Addison loves to tout the number of restaurants in its city limits. You know dining is serious business when there's a dedicated dining guide on the city's website, with 180-plus establishments on the list. Restaurateurs who consider Addison for their first foray into DFW's dining scene might find it difficult to stand out.
The owners of T. Blanco's Mexican Cantina, which opened last month on Addison Road, don't seem particularly worried. Looking to expand the original T. Blanco's in Longview, owner and patriarch Thomas White, his sons, Hunter and Mason, and partner Carson Sample, started scouting for a second location early last year.
"We searched all over, went and looked in Tyler," Sample says. Not finding what they wanted, they looked westward to DFW, and last fall, the group told Dallas CultureMap that they had settled on the former home of Sambuca and, most recently, Buttons in Addison. "We'd looked at a couple of places, but once the Sambuca building came up, we went from there," Mason White says.
In renovating the new space, T. Blanco's went with a contemporary look with a Mexican flair, including photos taken by Thomas White during his visits to Mexico. A cozy bar area greets visitors upon arrival, while the main dining room rocks a modern industrial look, lit by floor-to-ceiling windows.
No Tex-Mex restaurant worth its salt-rimmed glass skimps on margaritas, and with 12 versions on the menu, plus several frozen alternatives, T. Blanco's doesn't disappoint. Neither does the tequila list: blancos, reposados, and añejos are well represented, and flights are available to broaden one's agave-based horizons. We noted several colorful cocktails passing around us at the bar but couldn't resist trying a frozen Crown and Coke, which we learned is a staple at the Longview location. It tastes just as you'd imagine, like a Coke Slurpee from 7-Eleven, if 7-Eleven's version came spiked with whiskey.
Under the guidance of chef Jimmy Villarreal, T. Blanco's menu builds on the Tex-Mex standards by adding their own modern twists, all based on their own scratch recipes. For example, stuffed jalapeños ($11.95) are a usual standby, but get a shrimp, crabmeat and crawfish stuffing before being wrapped with bacon. We also particularly enjoyed the fried stuffed avocado ($12.95); ours came with a spicy shredded chicken and Jack cheese filling that paired well with the light panko breading and creamy avocado. A margarita chicken salad takes the house-made margarita mix from the bar and turns it into a vinaigrette for the mixed greens and grilled chicken breast.
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On the entree front, partake of an enchilada or burrito if you must, but the real gems are further down the menu. The pork tamales ($11.95) are stuffed with shredded pork that's been smoked for 12 hours, and the red chili masa was a unique twist. We were also surprised to find the chicken mole ($10.95) served with dark thigh meat instead of a usual chicken breast. The poultry was moist, flavorful and complemented nicely by the dark red mole sauce and a side of creamy elotes. The standard steak and shrimp ($24.95) came with a 10-oz. rib-eye that was cooked to a perfect medium along with large, tender shrimp, all basted with an avocado-butter-wine sauce.
With more than 20 Mexican and Tex-Mex dining choices in the city limits, T. Blanco's joins an already-crowded Addison restaurant scene, but it does more than just the Tex-Mex basics in their efforts to stand apart, which is exactly what chef Villarreal is going for.
"I want to serve good Mexican food, but I want it to be a little different than everyone else," Villarreal says.
T. Blanco's Mexican Cantina, 15207 Addison Road, Addison