Mexican Inn Cafe ~ Bedford, Texas
"Full menu" locations: Bedford, Burleson, Mansfield
"Limited menu" locations: Ft. Worth (4), Lake Worth
January 2014 update: The good news is that Mexican Inn is back in Northeast Tarrant! They built a new structure only a few hundred feet from their old one that had to be demolished due to the construction. The 121/183 road expansion continues, so it's still a bit of a challenge to get here, so I recommend for local travelers anyway, to take back roads to Bedford Rd. It's nice to see that this Mexican Inn is continuing with the full menu, and as such, I replicated the meal that I had below, since it's been well over two years since I last had it. The trademark greasy fritos styled chips, house salsa, frozen margarita, and chicken/shrimp dish were excellent, as last time. The rice was very disappointing this time, and was slightly mushy in texture. The beans lacked the sharp bacon flavor, and seemed a bit murky. Mrs. RJG tried the chile relleno and it was a big miss. As such, her rating is Sell, but I'm maintaining the Buy, as the basics here are good. We'll see on our next visit if this was an anomaly or the new normal.
January 2012 update (Ft. Worth - Lancaster Avenue location): OK, moving this one forward as we have some updates to share.
So we decided to try the next closest location which technically is on Lancaster Avenue just east of Beach. Though honestly, the one on Henderson or Camp Bowie is probably just as quick to drive to. None of these are around the corner, that's for sure.
And what did we learn, that most of you already know? The 4 Ft. Worth locations and one Lake Worth site have much smaller menus than the Bedford one did! If we want Chicken and Shrimp Ole, we're going to have to haul much further south to Burleson or Mansfield. We were told that the old Bedford location may open in the Precinct Line / 183 area in Hurst near the NE mall (probably close to the new In-N-Out Burger I would presume). All speculation at this point.
Anyway, the small menu is not a huge deal, as the chips (fried fritos), salsa, and margaritas are the same. So I tried the arroz con pollo, which is chicken and Mexican rice covered with a chili cheese sauce and a few slices of jalapenos thrown on top. Mrs. RJG and I still enjoyed our respective meal immensely. Mexican Inn is just flat out a good old fashioned Tex Mex place. And this location was very nice and clean on our visit.
It's been 6 years since our last visit to the Mexican Inn Cafe, a place that originally didn't make an impression one way or the other. And thus it continued to fall further down the stack in the database, and eventually was forgotten. But the RJG is trying to revisit places that were promising at one time and we just haven't bothered to go back. Such is the case with the Mexican Inn.
And in this case the promise was fulfilled. My original notes said something like "great chips, excellent margaritas, so-so tacos and enchiladas." And you know what? I'd still say something like that. BUT... there's more to the story this time. The RJG is no different than most of you I presume - it's all about finding the right dish. My greatest hesitation about writing off a restaurant is that I may have just missed the meal they do get right. And on this visit, already knowing that their Tex-Mex offerings are decent, but not great, I went for the Chicken and Shrimp Olé. Olé indeed! Now this is worth driving many miles for. The shrimp was buttery and delicious, while the tender white chicken breast is covered in a sublime chipotle barbecue sauce. The rice soaked up the shrimp butter, and was perfectly cooked. And the charro beans had a strong bacon flavor. Really.... wow, it was absolutely great. The kind of dish I could see craving. I have no idea if its consistent time in and time out, but I'm certain to find out. The Mrs. went for a more traditional Tex-Mex of a ranchero covered beef enchilada (she ordered chicken and got beef - eh, it happens - we didn't make a fuss) and a beef taco. The ranchero sauce had a nice kick, and she really enjoyed the dried ground beef. For me, the only drawback is the ground beef itself, which seems to be a bit bland to be honest. Which probably explains my original notes from 2005. And speaking of those notes: The frozen margarita (and the Mrs. had one on the rocks) was still excellent. And perhaps best of all - the chips themselves, which are entirely unique. They're fried corn strips that look like fritos basically - and taste delicious on their own even without sauce. I'll be honest here, the chips are seriously greasy. Crispy, but oily. I know plenty of folks that wouldn't eat these. But not the RJG! We don't run 4 miles a day for fun you know. Rather it's so we can enjoy food like this. And live to tell the tale. Oh, and finally the hot sauce is very good - a pureed tomato blend with a medium kick. Only downside is they don't have a "hotter one" for the RJG - oh, pobrecito :-(
Mexican Inn is a storied Ft. Worth legend that traces its roots to 1936. Like many places from the Depression era, the restaurant was founded by a colorful character, who also ran a gambling den upstairs - ensuring profits one way or the other. The original location was torn down only a few years ago. We've only been to the NE Tarrant representative in Bedford, but I suspect they're all well run. The closer you get to the heart of Ft. Worth, the more authentic it will get. The vibe that is. The Bedford location is Disneyland styled Old Mexico. I mean, what else could it be right?