This could start a fight.
You think you've found the perfect Tex-Mex enchilada? So do million of Texans
But, this Holy Grail, the perfect enchilada does not exist. Not in one spot. Fortunately for us, the real deal can be found in family-owned restaurants scattered across Texas. A few reasonable imitations can be found outside Texas, rarely.
You won't believe this, but the best reporting I've ever read about the enchilada tour was written this week by Joe Drape in, of all places, the New York Times. It took him ten years (about par for a non-native) but Drape understands the power and value in the eight dollar plate of cheese, chili, tortilla, onions, beans and rice.
Here's a sample of Drape's understanding of our ambrosia:
Among food snobs, the Mexican vs. Tex-Mex argument has been raging for decades. It is a wrongheaded debate, according to Robb Walsh, who wrote “The Tex-Mex Cookbook: A History in Photos and Recipes” (Broadway, 2004).
“Tex-Mex isn’t Mexican food,” said Mr. Walsh. “It is an American regional cuisine. So why do we have to apologize to Mexico for it?”
Mr. Walsh said the late food writer Waverley Root got it right when he described Tex-Mex as “native foreign food.”
Good stuff, huh?
Drape goes on to describe the best way to size up off-the-path family restaurants. We call them institutions and shrines. He also touts places to eat in San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. Or, as he calls it, the tamale triangle.
Despite this heaping of glory, Drape does have his short-comings. He failed to explore whether enchiladas go better with Texas beer, Dos XX, or iced tea.
After we clean up, we'll discuss BBQ and the relative values of mustard-based sauce versus tomato. Prepare your arteries.