Tio Carlos Mexican-Latin Grill’s homey flavors

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Tio Carlos off ers brisket tacos (left) and chiles rellenos (right). Chips, salsa and bean dip (center) are complimentary. Photo by Mary Spencer.

Tio Carlos Mexican-Latin Grill is about eight minutes from campus and offers beloved Mexican foods including tacos, burritos and quesadillas.The inside is separated into two dining rooms by a wall that halves the restaurant. Television sets on the walls were displaying a gymnastics meet.

All that could be heard was quiet music and the murmuring conversation from the few other patrons.

The restaurant was lined with booth seating, which seemed to cater to families who patronize the restaurant, and tables were clustered in the center. Attached to the dining room was an outdoor, canopied balcony, around which stood several palm-trees.

Tio Carlos has two locations, one in Irving and one in Colleyville. According to the restaurant’s website, Carlos, for whom the pair of restaurants are named, came to America from El Salvador as a young man. His first job in the culinary business was as a dishwasher. Following years of diligent work, Carlos eventually was able to become a restaurant entrepreneur himself.

At Tio Carlos, the food tastes authentic and homemade and is quite heavy. Salsa roja, chips and bean dip were brought to the table as an appetizer. The bean dip was similar to refried beans, but was darker and had a warmer, spicier flavor. The wait for the main courses was short.

The main dishes were each served with bean soup and arroz rojo. Amanda Jesse ordered the brisket tacos, which cost $13. The dish came with three tacos wrapped in corn tortillas. Also on the plate were Molcajete sauce, lettuce and thick slices of avocado to hat the three tacos. The tacos had generous portions of barbecued meat, and were covered with melted cheese. They were a bit greasy, but were filling and flavorful.

I ordered a beef relleno which was $14. The relleno had the option to be filled with shrimp, cheese, beef, chicken or brisket. The large, roasted poblano pepper was open, brimmed with ground beef and was topped with ranchero sauce. Melted Monterey Jack cheese coated the open face of the pepper. Slices of steamed jalapeño were mixed in with the beef and added an extra kick of spice to the dish.

Tio Carlos’ rich dishes are more Hispanic comfort food than fresh, light fare. It may not be ideal for the radically health conscious nor anyone who may be seeking the newest hot-spot in Dallas. However, for anyone seeking high-quality, from-scratch Mexican food, Tio Carlos is an ideal choice.

The restaurant did not have the ostentatious displays or bustling clamor common to many chain restaurants and trendy joints. Rather, the interior of Tio Carlos was dim, and shelves along the sides of the entryway were sparsely decorated with tchotchke, including a painted mug, a small porcelain owl figurine and a brightly painted statue of a cowboy resting in a sombrero.

These unique items, which were of the sort one is accustomed to find in a personal home, bolstered Tio Carlos’s image as a family restaurant. The meal was satisfying and reasonably priced for the size of the dishes given, and the peaceful atmosphere lended itself well to the quiet of a Sunday afternoon.

 

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