By Clare Myers
In general, I follow two guidelines when choosing restaurants to review: accessibility in location and accessibility in price. I made a small exception this week to try Pappasito’s Cantina, a Tex-Mex restaurant just off Northwest Highway that is a popular choice for birthdays and celebrations, but is a little pricier than my usual choice.
I went with a group of friends on a Friday night and the place was crowded and noisy, but that may have been due to the mariachi band that insisted on (loudly) serenading us for longer than we would have liked. Part of our party arrived later than the others, but our competent waiter took it in stride, making sure our orders were in as soon as we were ready.
As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of tortilla chips and salsa, I’d rate Pappasito’s as noticeably above average. The chips were salty and strong enough to hold the thick salsa, which had just the right amount of kick. The attentive wait staff kept the table stocked with refills until our entrees came out.
I chose the Chicken Tinga Enchiladas ($15.95 for two), one with salsa verde and one with red sauce. Our food was served promptly, but my request to leave out the cheesy topping was not taken into account. When I notified the waiter of the mistake, he graciously apologized and quickly brought me out a new plate with the correct order.
The enchiladas, while tasty, were typical fare for a sit-down Tex-Mex restaurant. The salsa verde sauce was just as flavorful as the barbecue-accented red sauce, but it was also much lighter and so proved a better complement to the juicy chicken.
Although my dish was not significantly above average, friends raved about their orders. The Grilled Salmon and Mango Salad ($16.95) was described as yummy, with mango and avocado balanced by toasted pepitas and red onions. The Rosa Combination ($13.95), a fried poblano pepper with jalapeño jack cheese and chile con carne sauce, was said to be fresh, spicy and delicious. One friend tried the Pulled Pork Enchiladas ($14.95 for two) and had a similar reaction to mine.
Pappasito’s did score some major points in my book for making their tortillas on a machine just outside the kitchen so that patrons can see the piping hot, fresh tortillas that are about to make their way onto their own plates.
Despite the distinct cool factor of the tortilla machine, I came away with mixed feelings about Pappasito’s. Great company made for a pleasant meal, but I could easily see how an overbearing mariachi band or a mixed-up order could derail a night with a less easygoing crowd. The bottom line: it is a solid choice for a group dinner or celebration, but on any given weeknight, pass on Pappasito’s, pick up a burrito from San Diego Taco and save yourself some cash and a mariachi-induced headache.
Nearest DART station: Bachman Station
Distance from UD: 2.6 miles
How to get there from UD: Take the Orange Line towards DFW Airport station for two stops (Irving Convention Center). Get on bus 528 towards Bachman Station. Ride for 9 stops (10 minutes), get off at Northwest @ Technology, and walk about 0.2 mi on Lombardy Lane.