Each week the Dude Food guys assess the 'masculinity' of Dallas area dives. The more fried meat and junk on the walls, the better the rating...
Jalapeno Tree (Yes, there should be a tilde over the "n" in "Jalapeno." No, I don't know how to type one.)
1530 N. Peachtree Rd., Mesquite
Dude Factor: 6, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, on a scale of 1 (John Ritter) to 10 (Humphrey Bogart)
At first glance, Jalapeno Tree seems like it is tailor-made for dudes. It's not the place to go if you're counting calories. In fact, you probably have no business going there at all if you plan to make it past age 65 or so. But if you need to move up from welterweight to heavyweight in a matter of days, you could do worse. If the greasy chips, fried everything and bottomless tortillas aren't enough for you, there are squeeze bottles of a butter-like substance on every table and free soft-serve for dessert.
But it also gives off the chain-y vibe of a place that's trying too hard to achieve dudeliness. A section of menu items assigns random celebrity guy names (Jack Nicholson, Tex Ritter, the three mentioned in the Dude Factor and a few others) to various Tex-Mex combo platters, with no obvious relation between the food and the dude. And the decoration scheme, at least on the porch where we were seated, looks like what Jimmy Buffett might have come up with if he were a really big soccer fan and chose to make a career of decorating sports bars instead of writing awful music. If only.
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The food, too, tasted like it was trying too hard; greasy, salty, spicy and heavily seasoned. But that's OK with me. I can appreciate a little effort. Better that than bland. I went with the "Don Pablo," a chicken breast served with shrimp and "Mexican Barbecue Sauce." It tasted OK, and was so filling that I had leftovers--a rarity for me. But maybe I just got tired of eating the chicken and rice after the shrimp were gone.
Service was spotty, too. My item was supposed to come with my choice of guacamole or a "Puff Taco." Afraid the taco would rip off a Police song and do a shameless tribute to Biggie Smalls in my stomach, I went with guac instead. But I had to remind our disinterested server twice before it arrived.
Unfortunately, I didn't save room for dessert, so I can't report on the soft-serve. My guess is that it tasted like soft-serve. But I felt so greasy by the time we left that I wasn't sure whether I'd eaten my food or wallowed in it.
At least the beer was cheap.