By Clare Myers
Here at The University News, we are quite fond of Tex-Mex food. In this respect (if in few others) I suspect we are like most of the general collegiate population in Texas. So last week, when we headed out for a quick bite to eat as a staff, it was unanimously agreed that margaritas were in order. To shake things up a bit, we decided to try a place where none of us had eaten before. Google and half-remembered suggestions from friends pointed us to Arturo’s Mexican Restaurant on Irving Boulevard. Tucked back from the road in a shopping plaza, it is an unassuming little place lined with booths on either side and a few rows of evenly spaced tables in between. Looking around at the forgettable, vaguely Mexican-looking art decorating the walls, I had the feeling that we had stumbled upon a hidden gem, one of those hole-in-the-wall joints where no one speaks English and the food is as satisfying as it is unidentifiable.
Unfortunately, I was wrong.
Once we sat down, the vibe at Arturo’s went from charmingly low-key to kitschy. Perhaps I had expected too much, but any hopes I had were quickly dashed.
Our waitress brought up a large bowl of tasteless chips and salsa and took our drink orders promptly. In fact, the staff was attentive throughout the meal. But the service was the only noticeably good part of the experience.
Our drinks came quickly, but the inadequately-sized margaritas ($4.95 for regular size) were weak and unappealing. Arturo’s offers a strawberry version ($5.50) but it was not much better.
My grilled chicken salad ($6.95) was both unattractive and bland. I was willing to make allowances, since, as a friend once told me, it is a bit presumptuous to expect a Tex-Mex place to make a good salad. But I was not the only one underwhelmed by my selection. All around the table, overworked journalists were unimpressed by their meals. One editor declared the enchiladas chile verde ($9.50) to be only so-so. A layout designer said she regretted her choice of beef enchiladas ($7.95 with rice and beans). The general consensus seemed to be that our dishes were nothing to write home about. It was not that the food or drinks were bad, really. It was just that none of it was particularly good.
And with a plethora of reliably good Tex-Mex options in Irving and Dallas from which to choose, there is no reason to eat at a restaurant that is merely “not bad.” (And there is really no excuse for drinking a margarita that is anything short of excellent.)
I have heard several positive reviews of Arturo’s, so perhaps I am judging too harshly. Perhaps my unimpressive meal was atypical and I should give it another try. But with so many other restaurants out there, I would rather take my chances somewhere else.