There’s a fairly unassuming strip mall on Buckner Boulevard — if you drive around that part of East Dallas, you know it. Years ago, that’s where we were introduced to the greatness of Good 2 Go Taco in the Green Spot.
But time passed, tacos left and someone decided to paint that whole, L-shaped shopping center a stark white.
But in this rather aesthetically unpleasing structure is a little neighborhood spot serving Tex-Mex, and brunch along with it.
El Vecino has a simple enough brunch menu, with some expected items — migas ($9.95), huevos rancheros ($9.95) and chilaquiles ($9.95) — but some unexpected things are available, and we’re always OK with that, as long as they’re executed well.
And overall, they’re executed in a just-OK sort of way.
If all burritos were griddled, we'd probably be OK with that. El Vecino's comes with cheese, egg and a choice of bacon, chorizo or potato and poblano peppers ($9.95). And don't focus on the possibly unappealing pool of refried beans: They're good enough to be instantly addicting.
The menu says the brunch burrito is a large flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, tomato, onion, jalapeño, cheddar cheese and your choice of bacon, chorizo or potato and poblano peppers ($9.95). It’s not filled with all of those things, and I’ve seen this on other menus recently: They say they’re filled with tomato, onion and jalapeño, but really there’s just a side of sad-looking pico de gallo.
One nice thing about this plate is that the burrito is griddled, so there’s a wonderful crispness. There’s not a lot going on in this chorizo-egg-and-cheese burrito, but the thing about burritos like this is, the cheese starts to take over (like a quesadilla) and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. The chorizo was just fine, especially when overpowered by other greasiness. Piling that pico in there just isn’t logistically ideal. And a side of sour cream drastically made each bite more complete. And it did need that additional flavor, as the eggs were underseasoned and quite bland.
The omelet de enchilada sounded interesting enough ($10.95). You choose your enchilada — cheese, chicken or beef — then said food item is wrapped in a three-egg omelet and topped with tomatillo sauce, chili con carne or chili con queso.
This is not a large cheese taco: Instead, you have here an omelet-wrapped enchilada ($10.95).
When getting the chili con queso, you basically get what appears to be a giant cheese taco — and there’s nothing wrong with that here because the queso is good. It’s nothing too terribly special, but it’s just good enough that if you order some for the table ($3.95/$5.95), you could end up putting it on your own meal, like each of us did this past weekend.
But back to the omelet-wrapped enchilada. This isn’t a thin layer of egg, say, like a pad thai might have around it; it’s a thick jacket around an enchilada, quickly making a bit of a soggy mess. Eat this at a normal rate (not at running-out-the-door speed) and you won’t enjoy how this feels in your mouth around bite four.
Both this and the quesadilla-burrito come with refried beans: These beans, looking as appealing as those at any other place serving Tex-Mex, are better than most, and they were our favorite part of these plates.
On the more basic side, we also went for the brunch bowl ($10.95). This at least comes out pretty enough, with plenty of color in black beans, avocado, tomato, diced sweet potatoes, cheddar cheese and scrambled eggs circling a small mound of spinach-poblano rice.
The brunch bowl is filled with scrambled eggs, black beans, avocado, tomato, sweet potato, cheddar cheese and spinach-poblano rice ($10.95).
I handed the salt and pepper to my friend who ordered this before the plate hit the table — bare eggs and avocado resulted in another situation of too little seasoning. Mixing it up, this is all just fine. It’s better once you add salt and pepper, but it kept needing more to be enjoyable. The sour cream helped, as did some queso. Broken chips upped this with another level of texture, but by then we had created a better-tasting bowl that was in no way healthy, but at least tastier than when it came out.
Brunch cocktails here are just $5. A house margarita, bloody mary, mimosa or the el Rominos margarita are available — that last one is like a Mambo Taxi, and we’ll gladly have that at brunch for a mere five bucks.
Give me one of those margaritas and queso, and I’m pretty happy here. The brunch doesn’t offer much to return to, but it’s fine enough — you won’t walk out feeling you wasted your time and money.
El Vecino, 718 N. Buckner Blvd., Suite 108 (East Dallas). 469-802-6060. Brunch served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.