Friday, June 17, 2016
Esparza's ~ Grapevine, Texas
Let's slip in another update here. We tend to frequent Esparza's roughly 3 to 4 times a year. This is one of the few Mexican restaurants left in DFW where I strictly stay with Tex-Mex. I've tried their more "interior" dishes, and remain nonplussed. So, as bolded by me below, Puffed Taco dinner it is. And Mrs. RJG continues to love the vegetarian Chile Relleno.
Updated 2011 Prelude: We mentioned earlier in this blog that Miguelito's in Hurst was one of our go-to places from 2004-2005. But our very first regular Mexican food fix in NE Tarrant was Esparza's. An old Dallas neighborhood buddy first recommended the place to us, and it was an instant hit at the RJG household. From 2003 to 2004, I'd say we went here more than any other Mexican restaurant. But, as with Miguelito's, the Mrs. began to sour on the place for a variety of reasons. That left Mr. RJG going solo, or with neighborhood friends, on a very infrequent basis. But now the Mrs. wanted to go for another try at the behest of moi. And how can one refuse my behesting?
Food: Now it's interesting in reading the various other reviews out there about Esparza's. The consensus is, if I'm allowed to interpret, that Esparza's has a great bar scene, with excellent margaritas - and mediocre food. The RJG disagrees with this assessment, at least the food part that is. What Esparza's excels at is good old fashioned Tex-Mex. You start dabbling in the fancy, and you're in uncharted waters as far as we're concerned. And that's exactly what we did on our last visit - try other dishes. I went with the "spicy" green enchiladas. One has to wonder why on Earth the word spicy even crossed their minds. Mine was a very bland dish, with little taste at all. The rice and beans didn't exactly propel the platter to enormous heights either. Meanwhile the wife tried the chile relleno. Guess what? It was great! She loved their unique take on the classic dish - with loads of unique vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms, onions, raisins and nuts), cheese and ranchero sauce. And the charro beans were delicious with plenty of that yummy bacon flavor. So Mrs. RJG found her dish! Which means we may be going back again on a regular basis. So what will I get? Oh, I know better now - Tex-Mex! I love their puffed tacos, with a wonderfully seasoned ground beef. And doused with their trademark excellent hot sauce, that comes out with the warm crispy chips. The salsa itself is a pureed delight, with a nice kick to it (sadly missing in their green sauce).
Drink: For a place that calls itself the "Margarita Capital of Texas", they do a fine job backing that claim up! Though they do seem to charge a premium for that bit of branding, and perhaps not the best value, but very good all the same. And yes, they do tend to pack a punch, so be careful.
Location: Esparza's is definitely one of Northeast Tarrant's Mexican food institutions. Founded in 1985, Esparza's is situated in an awesome former-home setting (from the late 1800's!), tucked away in the back streets of old town Grapevine. The open patio guarantees a lively party scene - and the full sports bar in the back seals the deal. You'll find Esparza's on Worth street, which is one block east of Main (the downtown strip as it were). Easy to get too, and now that they opened up the driveway from Franklin, parking isn't the challenge it once was when having to navigate the one way entrance. We do highly recommend you enter from Franklin.
Notes: According to some friends, Esparza's obtained their start from the legendary Ojeda's in Dallas, and that some of their recipes, including the benchmark table salsa, were lifted from them. Certainly the salsa is similar! Speaking of which, they now jar the concoction, so you can now enjoy it at home. Also, since our first posting, they have opened a second location in Coppell.
Rating: 4.0. Consistently excellent. There's better Mexican food in Northeast Tarrant and in DFW, but Esparza's is definitely worthy of a visit. And it you're a social butterfly, then Esparza's is closer to the top of that bracket.