When Peak and Elm Cocina, the Tex-Mex restaurant on the outskirts of Deep Ellum, opened earlier this year, owner Jesse Moreno Sr. made a shocking announcement. Despite the menu featuring enchiladas, fajitas and other classics, the restaurant would not be serving gratis chips and salsa.
As we pointed out as the restaurant first opened, chips and salsa were part of everyone's perceived right during a Tex-Mex meal. Other restaurants had tried and failed to get rid of the snack. We wondered how long Peak and Elm could hold out.
As a replacement, the restaurant offered a small bowl of sliced carrots, jicama, onion and jalapeño marinated in apple-cider vinegar. The vegetables were light, fresh and crisp, with an acidic tang -- the perfect thing to wake up your palate before a heavy Tex-Mex meal. But about two months ago, according to a waiter, the restaurant couldn't take the pressure any longer. "Customers expect chips and salsa when they come to a Tex-Mex type restaurant," he told me.
Now when you sit down at a table at Peak and Elm, chips and a small dish of tomato-based salsa arrive shortly after. The chips are made at nearby La Popular Tamale House, which also owns Peak and Elm. They're warm, not at all greasy and a good start to a Tex-Mex meal, provided you can exercise some restraint.
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Apparently if you want to open a Te-Mex restaurant, you better put chips and salsa on every table. You've been warned.