To say there is one single Mexican cuisine is to assert limits on Mexican food. As hokey as it sounds, Mexican gastronomy is better described as a set of cuisines. That’s how vastly different are the regional dishes of a country of 761,600 square miles — close to three times the size of Texas.
It can be difficult to whittle down gastronomic traditions of one state, one valley, or one city into a few paragraphs. It’s a bit easier to focus on specific dishes: a taco, a sandwich, a mole. Below are regional Mexican dishes that can be found in Dallas, and where to enjoy them.
Hidalgo: Barbacoa de borrego estilo Ixmiquilpan at Barbacoa Agave & Seafood Restaurant
The east-central state of Hidalgo is renowned for its barbacoa de borrego (lamb barbacoa). Traditionally cooked in a pit and wrapped in maguey leaves, barbacoa can be enjoyed with consomme, as tacos, or in other preparations. The meat is gamey, and a tad smoky, with touches of fat that make for beautiful eating at Barbacoa Agave & Seafood Restaurant in Dallas’ Pleasant Grove neighborhood, where it’s served by the pound in a chafing dish alongside fresh corn tortillas.
7522 9515 CF Hawn Fwy., 214-391-2296
Mexico City: Torta Cubana at Tortas La Hechizera
Practically ubiquitous on Mexico City streets, the torta Cubana sandwich is a behemoth, with variations of sliced ham, milanesa, roasted pork shoulder, headcheese, queso fresco, American cheese, hot dog franks, avocado wedges, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos. This sandwich of dreams is available at Tortas La Hechizera, all atop a locally made roll.
119 W. Jefferson Blvd., 214-946-2313
Monterrey: Cabrito al pastor at Cabritos Los Cavazos Restaurant & Cantina
As many immigrants in Dallas are from Monterrey, Mexico, the capital of border state Nuevo León, it comes as a surprise that cabrito al pastor, a regional specialty of Monterrey and northern Mexico, is difficult to find here. That’s where Cabritos Los Cavazos comes in. Its signature butterflied and spit-roasted kid goat is prepared over wood coals, and patrons can watch the whole process from behind glass. Choose from several cuts, including lower back, leg, or kidney, with attached adjacent meat known as riñonada, and savor the subtle gaminess of the meat.
10240 N. Walton Walker Blvd., 972-707-7020
Oaxaca: Mole Oaxaqueño at Mi Lindo Oaxaca
There aren’t a lot of Oaxacan restaurants in Dallas, but of the few, the original Mi Lindo Oaxaca continues to be the best. Its mole Oaxaqueño begins with hand-shelled cacao and builds from there. The result is a dusky-colored dish with a bitter chocolate base that eases into a refined sweetness before balancing with heat. It’s served over a pair of chicken drumsticks, restrained only by the platter’s edge.
607 N Willomet Ave., 214-238-2645