Dude Food: Zaguan

2604 Oak Lawn Ave.

Dude Factor: 7, or Devendra Banhart, on a scale of 1 (Devendra Banhart, NSFW version) , to 10 (Devendra Banhart, circa 2008--way to go, dude, way to go).

Granted, Zaguan is definitely not the first place that comes to mind when most people think of "Dude Food." But considering its close proximity to Dallas Observer headquarters, it's an easy lunch destination, and we're all about easy.

Fresh fruit juices and South American pastries aside, there is plenty of dudely cuisine to be had, however. You can choose from two menus at Zaguan, one in the traditional written style, and another complete with pictures for those who prefer the point-and-grunt style of ordering.

Fried cheese, that most delectable of apps, can be found in at least two different forms on the menu: a grilled hunk of Venezuelan "El Paisa" cheese, or tequenos--little cheese sticks that more closely resemble their gringo-made cousins but are far better than what you'd find at your neighborhood Chili's.

We've tried the cachapa (shredded beef or chicken in a sweet corn turnover) but prefer the savory arepa--basically a Latin version of an awesome BBQ beef sandwich with a salty cheese added. (We took a picture of the last one we consumed, but it turned out kinda like every picture of Bigfoot--intriguing, but blurry.)

The breakfast arepa isn't bad, either, and they serve it all day. You can get plantain chips with all of them, and those are kind of awesome, too. We don't really understand how they get bananas to taste like that, but whatever--maybe the Pringles dude developed a special breed or something.

You can't really go wrong with the lunch specials (which are also fairly easy on the wallet), but all the little side dishes add up quickly--so don't let the little pictures entice you into too many foolhardy decisions. We did, and now we're out like 15 bucks. But at least we're full.

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