Thursday, May 15, 2008

More Restaurants: Small and Good.




I love the small, owner-operated eatery. I don't care if it's pizza, Chinese, Mexican, barbecue or burgers. If I see a truck pulled over on the side of the road smoking ribs, I'm tempted to stop and often do. There are no fancy surroundings, artwork, or owner's BMW's included in the cost of these meals.

I had been thinking about asking readers to send in their favorite no-chain, locally owned, taco truck or corner restaurant. Then Jake offered a suggestion that Meli's is his favorite Mexican corner restaurant. My favorite has been the taco truck on 8th at the now abandoned Carnival. I seem to remember Rambler suggesting that there is some good food outside the Fiesta, a little ways south.

Please send me your favorites. I will post them in a list format and visit them.

One of my favorite little places is Boogie burger on Lancaster. Love that place.

Submission requirements:
1. Owner must be directly involved in the food preparation or service.
2. The building in which food service takes place must be a truck, strip shopping center, old gas station, or abandoned Burger King.
3. Menu must be limited in cuisine. No combo Chinese-Italian-Mexican cafeteria style joints.
4. At least one child of owner should be sitting at a table doing homework or playing a Gameboy.
5. One television is allowed in establishment, no flatscreens, and television should be showing soap operas or soccer, preferably not in English.
6. Most importantly, food must be fresh, taste good, and the cost should be reasonable.
(7. Not a requirement, but is preferred that the nationality of the owner match the kind of cuisine).

Editors Note: Old DQ's, Pizza Inn's, Fried Chicken franchises, and the like are all in the letter and spirit of the requirements. The requirements are not meant for literal interpretation (obviously) but are meant to convey the idea of sole proprietorship, originality and love of the end product, which is good food, and then happy customers.

9 comments:

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I hereby nominate "Cancun Mexico", on the South side of the 7400 block of Camp Bowie (just west of the Weatherford Traffic circle).
1. The owner is the cashier. They're opening another Cancun in Benbrook, but the owner remains at Camp Bowie.
2. The building is an old Mr. Bojangles Fried Chicken franchise. The carpet with Mr. Bojangles logos was only recently replaced.
3. Mexican seafood is the specialty. Concessions are made to Tex-Mex.
4. The kids of the owner are too old to sit at tables doing homework. I think they're wait-staff.
5. The TV was recently removed, probably in an effort to get away from the image you're advocating here. Prior to its removal the TV played Mexican soaps and soccer matches 24/7.
6. Yep. Especially for the money.
7. Yep.

Rambler said...

You know, I drive past FlashPoint Boogie Burger several times a week and have eaten there once. And loved it. Go figure.

I think you should include old Dairy Queens to qualify.

This will take some thinking. I'll get back to you. I will tell you there's a new home-cooking buffet in the old (and unlamented) Bamboo Garden on McCart at Altamesa. They have a sign on the door to the effect that WE DON'T SERVE CHINESE FOOD HERE. It was really good and really reasonable. Good stuffed peppers and chopped steaks with mushroom gravy. Overcooked vegetables (just like grandma used to overcook), The salad bar was good - not extensive but fresh and varied. Big chunks of real bacon won, not to mention, clogged my heart.

You know, it wasn't great, but it was good. And cheap. I think lunch was 6.50 and that included a drink. It's not a chain, and I think the staff probably included several family members.

Closer to your qualifying criteria would be Taquaria Ernesto on South Hemphill at Bolt. I think I've commented on them before, though. Most of the line staff do speak English however. Not all, but most.

Francis Shivone said...

Thanks gents -- great comments and suggestions. I will be visiting.

Anonymous said...

thai tina
on henderson in the old newstand building--was probably once a Pizza Inn
tina from thailand is the chef at thai tina
her husband, Jay from America waits tables and hosts and cashiers
there are no televisions but there is interesting decor that tina did herself (she put mosaic tile all over the walls by herself and created some art (reminiscent of Escher says my 11 year old son who loves the chicken satay and tina)
her daughter is not playing gameboy but her photo is on the to go menu dressed in traditional thai attire (styled by tina, photo by jay)
read a review at fort worth hole in the wall

Francis Shivone said...

Old DQ's, Pizza Inn's, Fried Chicken franchises and the like are all in the spirit of the requirements. The requirements are not literal (obviously) but meant to convey the idea of sole proprietorship, originality and love of the end product, ie, good food, and happy customers.

Thanks for the comment.

Rambler said...

Update: I was along East Lancaster today and Flashpoint Boogie Burger appears to have closed. Please tell me they moved.

Anonymous said...

Cousin's Barbecue on McCart, you get football on the tube. Usually college. The walls are covered in SHS and TCU photos, clippings, etc. Twenty-five years, family operated and beats Angelo's any day. The brisket is the best.

Speaking of brisket - Panaderia La Fe on Hemphill has excellent brisket burritos. Get them with chiles. It used to be a requirement to speak Spanish, but I think the owner has mellowed over the years.

A daughter, or grand, took my order in English and the owner just glared at me, the last time. She used to gripe and waive a cleaver around. It's a bakery, so everything goes in a bag. You'll have to get a drink next door, or take the tasty treats home.

Some years ago, a gentleman used to come by my house in Fairmount every few months. He sold the best tamales in the whole world! There was also an older man who drove through in the summer with watermelons.

Francis Shivone said...

Great suggestions, all of which I will try. I have seen La Fe but have never stopped. I will now. Thanks.

zebtron said...

Seconding La Fe as possibly the best burrito in town. The tortillas they use use are like none I've had before--thicker and softer than most with an incredible texture. The fajita and barbacoa burritos are excellent.
South Hemphill is loaded with great mexican food. El Pollo Palenque, Juanito's, Ernesto's, El Mil are all regular stops for me.