El Gabacho ~ Arlington, Texas
Mrs. RJG and I had a free Saturday, with absolutely no obligations for lunch, dinner, or anything else for that matter. So on days like this, the RJG likes to travel outside of our usual cow pasture here in Northeast Tarrant, and try something new. We've been pretty negligent with Arlington, and so I decided to point our cattle car straight south and see what happens. We both had a hankering for some Mexican food with a beer or margarita, and so with my handy dandy Urbanspoon App at my disposal, we went digging. After a couple of minutes of research, El Gabacho looked like the perfect place to try. And it was.
The first thing you'll notice upon arrival is that it takes a couple of minutes to get your bearings. Even though the restaurant is visible from the street, and there is outdoor patio seating, the actual entrance is inside a nice mini-mall called the Brownstone Village. Once inside the restaurant, you'll be immersed in the world of the Old West - at least according to Hollywood. According to Mrs. RJG, El Gabacho means "gringo", but apparently it is also a nickname for John Wayne, who's mug adorns the restaurant in just about every nook and cranny.
To get started, I had a frozen margarita which was perfect. It's amazing to me how few restaurants can get the balance of slushy ice, tequila, and other ingredients to work. And pack a buzz while at it. Mrs. RJG had a Boulevard (Kansas City) on tap. I tasted it, and it was one of their lighter offerings, but I wasn't able to ascertain which variety they had, and our waiter wasn't sure. Hey, when you order a Bud, it's Budweiser, and when you order a craft beer like Boulevard, it could be dozens of different varieties.
The chips and salsa were also a hit. The chips were better than average homemade corn. The red salsa comes out heated (I always like that) and has a nice garlic like flavor. A bit different from any other salsa I've tried. I would call the heat level medium hot. We asked for a hotter salsa, and they said they don't always have one, but they did on this day. Out came this thick blended green and red chile sauce. Ah, it was delicious and definitely packed more heat. It's of the add-up variety, so it took awhile to kick in.
Two items leaped off the menu for us: Enchiladas Verdes and the Tex Mex Tacos. Each with rice and refried beans. Mrs. RJG got the former, which of course I tried as well. Right away, I could tell it was going to be delicious, given that the chicken looked heavily seasoned with red chile before it was even rolled into the tortilla. The chicken, cheese, and spicy/sweet green tomatillo sauce was excellent. We both agreed it was just a tad dry, so we probably will opt for more sauce on the next visit. By deduction, I of course tried the Tex Mex Tacos, which are not exactly what you might think with a moniker such as that. These are not ground beef crunchy tacos, but rather charbroiled white meat chicken stuffed into homemade fried corn shells - and loaded with cheese, lettuce and tomato slices. The chicken by itself was delicious enough, but with the fried corn shell it ended up being sublime. Add some of that spicy salsa on top for the perfect symphony. We both agreed that the rice was excellent and flavorful, as were the creamy refried beans. Perfect texture, excellent taste.
Obviously we were quite impressed with our one visit to El Gabacho. For certain we will try for an annual visit... or more, if we can get to Arlington often enough. Moo.