My friend Cassi bought the same small food processor that I did and asked what she should do with it. I love it for salad dressings. This is a simple and very tasty dressing that I found in a book by Matt Martinez Jr, “Mex Tex”. Here’s the recipe as it is written in the book. I cut it in half because there are only two of us at my house.
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro (loosely packed)
1 tablespoon crushed and chopped garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whirl it in the food processor or a blender for 30 seconds. Pour into a jar and chill.
My half measure of the ingredients above makes about this much. The full measure makes 1 1/2 cups, according to the recipe. 1 1/2 cups is more than I need.
Of course, if you don’t like cilantro this won’t be for you. But, if you do, you’ll be amazed at how delicious it is! Today’s salad is fresh greens from my neighbor’s garden, radish, heirloom tomato and green onion. A few slices of cantaloupe and we’re good to go with some grilled chicken.
I’m so sad to hear that Matt is in hospice care that I don’t know if I can even write about it. Hubbard and I have been Lakewood area residents for about 15 years now. Hubbard was born in the area. When we first moved here, Matt was there in the spot that is now the Starbucks, at the end of the strip by the Lakewood Theater. Not just the restaurant, but Matt was there. We saw him every time we dined at Matt’s Rancho Martinez and we dined there often. When Hubbard was in law school, after he finished studying, he’d go out for a drink and often meet up with Matt after Matt had finished closing up the restaurant. Matt always recognized a regular customer.
Now, sadly, I found out last night that Matt might not be with us much longer. Think of what he did in the local Tex Mex scene. Mattito’s and Y.O. Ranch were highly influenced by him. He’s opened up places around the Metroplex, appeared in cooking demos and been the general man-about-town. Now, we may lose him.
I’m extremely sad about that. What a wonderful personality he was and what wonderful food he provided. If you don’t have his most recent cookbook, get it. There is a photo of him in the back dressed as an angel.
After seeing the Dallas Morning News Best Tex-Mex article in the Guide, Hubbard realized there was only one restaurant on the list in Dallas that he had not visited. Our lunch choice was clear. Desperados has been in the same spot on Greenville Avenue for over 30 years. We have lived within a 15 minute drive of Desperados for the last 20 years. Don’t ask me why we never ate there. Maybe it’s the hokey name. Let’s just say we were remiss for skipping it.
They have a cute little patio with a shaded area and a view of the parking lot. We sat inside. As you walk in the door, on the right, there’s a narrow room with three booths. We called it the “grown-up” room. The ceiling is high in this area and it’s nicely decorated. Doesn’t really lend itself to highchairs. Perfect for us. In general, the restaurant is very kid friendly.
We were barely seated before the chips and salsa arrived. Always a good sign. We started with a couple of “La Margaritas”. I’ve never had a margarita in a parfait glass before. But, it sure beat a rootbeer float. Hubbard mentioned that the color of the drink was a good indication that it actually contained some tequila. Very tasty. In fact, it’s one of those margaritas that you shouldn’t drink if you’re particularly thirsty or it will be gone in a heartbeat. We munched on some Queso Bandito while we waited for our meal. The queso itself was a little bland, almost needing salt. Thankfully, the taco meat and pico de gallo on top made it into something interesting. I don’t think I’d order the queso without the “Bandito”.
I chose the chile relleno. I’ve done this for years. The first time I visit a Mexican restaurant I’m very likely to try the relleno. I never order beef because it’s almost always ground beef. Desperados only offers a beef relleno. Theirs is shredded beef. Big difference. The relleno consist of the shredded brisket, raisins and toasted almond slivers, topped with ranchero sauce and melted jack cheese. Very good.
Hub had their signature Desperado Tacos. The menu claims this is the most ordered dish on the menu since 1976. They fry flour tortillas into taco shells and stuff them with, in this case, beef fajita meat, pico and a slice of avocado on top of the filling. Hubbard loved them. He said, “If this is what you were craving, Desperados would be the only place to come”. The unusual fried flour tortilla taco shell held together perfectly, unlike a lot of corn tortilla shells. The meat was tender and flavorful.
Desperados also serves breakfast on the weekend from 11:00 to 3:00. I bet we’ll be going back for that soon. Overall, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the food. The service was efficient and friendly. Funny how a little gem can be right there in front of you for twenty years before you go and check it out. Thanks for the heads up, DMNews!
Cuquita’s was recently mentioned as one of the best Tex-Mex places in Dallas on the Guidelive Eats blog. Hubbard said, “Every time we ate at Capital Pub I kept thinking maybe we should be going across the street to Cuquita’s because people were just pouring in and out of that place”. He was right.
We did more talking than eating last night and woke up starving. Once we remembered that Cuquita’s was open early, that was all it took to steer us away from actually cooking this morning. Nothing like a good Mexican breakfast. We started with the queso flameado. This was a pretty big bowl full of melted white cheese with chorizo mixed in. I’m not talking about chili con queso. There was no dipping involved with this stuff. They serve it with tortillas, two forks and a steak knife. The knife is used to cut your bite away from the rest of the cheese because it pulls into infinitely long strings if you don’t cut it. Hubbard said they should have served it with scissors instead. It is very tasty, wrapped in their homemade corn tortillas with a little salsa for good measure. The chorizo is mild and doesn’t come with spoonfuls of red grease, like some I’ve had. The queso would be best to share among four or more people. No matter how much we ate of it, the bowl never appeared to be any less full.
Hubbard ordered the chiliquiles con chorizo y papas. The menu didn’t mention the potatoes. But, they were glad to add them to the dish. If you aren’t familiar, chiliquiles consists of scrambled eggs, cheese and tortillas. Add chorizo and potatoes to the mix and you’ve got a pretty substantial plate of eggs. Breakfast items are served with refried beans. I had the huevos con chorizo y papas. Both our plates were piled high with eggs and beans and neither of us could actually finish our servings. The egg dishes were perfectly executed. Not too spicy or greasy. Just flavorful and satisfying.
When it’s time for a Mexican breakfast this is where we’ll be going for a while. They serve breakfast all day long. The price was right, too. All that for less than $20. The dining area is much cuter than it looked like it would be from the outside. Everyone was very friendly and the crowd was a pretty good ethnic mix, which I always consider to be a sign of an all-around winning restaurant. I’m excited about going back for dinner or lunch.
And now, a little siesta might be in order…
I love this book. When I first started cooking I kept wondering where the Mexican food books were. I found Diane Kennedy. But, what I was really looking for was Tex-Mex. Just like the Tex-Mex we had at our local eatery, Matt’s Rancho Martinez. We started frequenting Matt’s from the time he opened his place in Lakewood. It’s not quite the same without old Matt around coming by to see how everyone is doing. But, it’s still good and often what I think of when I want Mexican food.
He had a couple of books before this one. This one is undoubtedly the best. The photos are great and the recipes cover all my favorites and more. His chili rellenos are by far the best I’ve ever eaten and the recipe is right here. All his salsas, margaritas, enchilada sauces and more. I really recommend this book. I roll out this one when I want to impress visitors from out of state who never sit down to Mexican food at their table at home. I’ve seen the book at Borders and on Amazon.
If you don’t already have a good Tex-Mex cookbook, this is the only one you’ll need.