Dude Food: Ojeda's

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...

4617 Maple Ave.

Dude Factor: 8, or Lucky Day, on a scale of 1 (The Singing Bush) to 10 (El Guapo)

Thanks to its quick service, reliable dishes, dirt-cheap prices and proximity to CIty Of Ate HQ, Ojeda's has become one of my favorite lunch spots.

The place is unabashedly Tex-Mex, without even a hint of "Fresh-Mex," "Mod-Mex" or any other such stabs at upscale Mexican and/or healthy food. Sometimes a dude's just gotta have a chili relleno or some enchiladas smothered in greasy chili.

A couple of amigos and I learned on a recent visit, though, that certain dishes at the restaurant should come with a warning label: Caution--Risk Of Taco Blowout.

Taco blowout is what happens when you bite into a taco and the filling slides out the opposite end; reference the scene in The Three Amigos when Dusty Bottoms (Chevy Chase) has trouble with his food in the Santo Poco village and asks, "Do you have anything besides Mexican food?" This is an ambiguous term, though, as it can also apply to post-meal unpleasantness.

But the food is worth the risk of taco blowout, scorched tongue from the near-boiling hot temperature on arrival and the comatose state that the food and bottomless chips and spicy, garlicky salsa will induce.

I ordered the chili relleno, which arrived almost before the waitress made sure I understood that it would be prepared with an Anaheim pepper rather than the poblano pepper most restaurants use. That would be fine, I assured her, but she sweetly offered to let me change my order at no charge if I wasn't satisfied. From the first bite, though, I knew I wouldn't be able to stop myself from eating in time to leave a convincing amount of the entree behind. It was just as compelling as any poblano chili relleno, though skinnier and lacking the smoky flavor.

The flash-frying was a wonder to behold, still crispy even under a slathering of ranchera sauce. Spicy ranchera, fried masa batter, spicy pepper, seasoned ground beef--I'm pretty sure chili rellenos are what chosen dudes will eat in Heaven every Cinco De Mayo, and Ojeda's version is a fine example indeed.

Amigo Patrick chose the brisket tacos, which came with guac, pico and strips of grilled onion and poblano (proof that the variation on the chili relleno is not for lack of poblano peppers). The juicy brisket didn't want to stay on the corn tortillas, though, resulting in the aforementioned case of taco blowout, though he managed to enjoy it regardless. Brocephus Noah got one of the combo platters--No. 3,294, if memory serves--which came with a beef enchilada, beef taco and cheese taco. He was happy with the meaty offerings, but declared the cheese taco "Not so bueno."

A sopapilla--crispy, flaky and gritty with cinnamon-spiked sugar--was easily worth the $1.25, even if it brought my bill up to a whopping $11 and change.

Unlike the poor villagers of Santo Poco, Ojeda's serves something besides purely Mexican food: Tex-Mex. Thank God.

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Jesse Hughey
Contact: Jesse Hughey