Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mas Enchiladas

The quest continues....

Enchiladas en Mole, La Guadalupana, 3109 Dunlavy

This is a very popular small, family run restaurant in the Montrose that gets lot’s of positive reviews. It’s not convenient to me so I’ve only been twice. My first visit, more than a year ago, I had the Mole Poblano con Pollo. According to local food explorer Jay Francis, La Guadalupana is one of the few restaurants locally that makes their moles from scratch instead of using a commercially prepared product. While that meal was good I wasn’t wowed by the restaurant and hadn’t been back until recently while checking out enchilada dishes. This time I had the Enchiladas en Mole and I liked this a better than the other dish. Shredded chicken (dark meat I think) was wrapped in tortillas, covered with a very chocolate-y mole, topped with shredded lettuce, onion, slices of avocado and grated Panela cheese. The rice and beans as well as the two table salsas were all good though nothing remarkable; both the salsas were mild.

Since I’ve only been to this restaurant twice I’m not going to attempt a fuller review other than to say I really like the bakery section. I understand the owner, Trancito Diaz, was a pastry chef at the Houston Country Club for years and there’s much more than just pan dulce here; the French pastries are very good. Many people online have commented on spicier dishes on the menu but everything I’ve had so far just registers as mild on my taste buds.

Enchiladas Michoacanas de Cordoniz, Taqueria 100% Michoacan, 10001 W. Bellfort, Suite A

Taqueria 100% Michoacan has gone out of business.
While searching for mentions of enchiladas I came across a review of this place written by ... me! I went to this place several times over a year ago, shortly after it opened. I remember being impressed by the place but had forgotten I had ever tried an enchilada dish here. I had the Enchiladas Michoacanas con pollo back then and was impressed; though I didn’t mention it in my review I think I remember now that the enchiladas were folded twice into the shape of a wedge, which makes them enchiladas dobladas. A roasted chicken drumstick was on the side. This time I decided to try the version with quail.

After several visits back then I had decided to move on and try other places here on the Southwest side but I remembered the taqueria and pass it from time to time. It’s a bit pricier than most taquerias and the menu is a little more adventurous, I’d say; perhaps an applicable word is ‘authentic,’ though I hate to use that word. Portions also are modest, at least on the dishes I’ve ordered which are the ones that look the most ‘authentic’ and unique to me. They do have a Tex-Mex section of the menu with Enchiladas Tex-Mex, a Texas Plate (Carne Guisada), and Enchiladas Suizas de Pollo o Fajita. There also are Enchiladas Tipicas on the Platillos Tipicos section of the menu but no description of what that means. I’m kind of surprised the place has survived as there is not much residential nearby; the strip center has remained largely empty, although there is a Michoacan oriented general merchandise store and Tortilleria Milpa Real has recently opened after having a sign up for about a year (Tortilleria Milpa Real has gone out of business).

Oh yes, about the food. This was very good. The wings and legs of the quail were dry and over-cooked but the breast meat was juicy and flavorful. I noted a textural difference in the enchiladas. I understand there are two ways to ‘enchilada’ a tortilla. One involves frying the tortilla in fat to soften it up and make it pliable, then enchilada-ing it, submersing it in chile sauce, then filling it and rolling or folding it. The other method involves dipping the tortilla in the chile sauce first and then frying it. I’ve not yet attempted these two methods at home but I’m guessing the latter method is used here, producing enchiladas that have a crispier, toastier, drier texture and taste that I liked. The textural and flavor contrasts provided made the dish more interesting.

This was topped, besides the chile sauce, with lechuga, translated lettuce, tomato, crema, queso, avocado and some strips of very vinegary jalapenos. Every dish I’ve had here with lechuga in the description has actually had shredded, raw cabbage, not lettuce. A little bit of raw cabbage goes a long way and I could have done with a little less of that; also, some of the tomato dice was from right around the stem and should have been thrown out; the vinegary jalapeno strips really stood out. I think the potatoes were enchiladaed also and were good.

On my first visit, with the Enchiladas con Pollo, the refritos were wonderful, made with frijoles rojos of some sort and seemingly with a little chile and cumin added. Every other time I’ve been there the refritos have been pintos with grated cheese; good but not outstanding. The table salsa is rather bland, the chips store-bought. The salsas brought to the table with the meal in squeeze bottles are more interesting but I didn’t see how they went with this meal and didn’t use any, just sampled a little on the plate.

While it’s not Five-Star dining I give this place a little extra credit for putting something other than the same-old, same-old sides on the plate; I wish others would do this also.

Enchiladas El Chon, Teotihuacan Mexican Café, 6579 W. Bellfort

This is another very popular restaurant that I’ve only been to twice, the first time four years ago right after this location opened. I wasn’t very impressed; the carnitas I had was pretty tough and I had a great deal of trouble understanding the waiter who spoke very fast - and he was speaking English! This time around I had much better luck with the servers, two very pretty, smiling young ladies took very good care of me. There are seven options available on the Enchilada section of the menu and I chose this one with shrimp and scallop, covered with a tomatillo/Monterrey Jack sauce.

There was a time, not more than a couple of years ago, when melted cheese was one of the major food groups for me and I would have been very glad to see this dish brought to the table but my tastes and eating habits have changed and I was a little perplexed. Everyone says Teotihuacan is ‘real Mexican,’ not Tex-Mex but I typically think of enchiladas smothered in melted cheese as Tex-Mex. The tortillas themselves were soggy to the point of being mushy, an unpleasant contrast to the more toothsome tortillas at Taqueria 100% Michoacan. At first I was pleased that the shrimp seemed to have been fresh, not frozen, small but with good texture, but as I made my way through the dish I became convinced they were frozen as a more rubbery texture asserted itself. The scallops were pea-sized. The shrimp also were apparently just boiled without any seasoning; I thought the dish would have been much improved if they had some seasoning or were grilled. I didn’t care for these enchiladas much at all.

The two salsas, however, were good, especially the creamy salsa verde with small bits of ripe avocado, but the red table salsa, slightly smokey and with more heat, was good also. The refritos were above average in taste and the Spanish Rice had a nice fresh tomato taste instead of the usual cooked tomato taste which I liked.

I’m a contrarian in many things in life and my taste buds seem programmed that way too. I haven’t ever had any of the grilled items that some people say are this restaurant’s strong points (nor eaten at the original on Airline which might be a bit better) but I’m not as taken by this place as I would have expected from all the positive reviews it gets. I do think, however, given the same sides I might have enjoyed this meal more if I'd chosen different enchiladas.

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