The cuisine: Slow-food style meets fast-food format. The menu for this Arlington Mexican restaurant goes well beyond the Tex-Mex same-old, same-old.
The back story: Owner Art Juarez has been in the restaurant business for years, but this is his first venture on his own. Cumino's -- the name comes from the ground-seeds spice cumin -- is as lovingly executed as only a long-dreamed-of business can be.
The food: Cumino's has a breakfast menu and a lunch menu, and we sampled both. From the breakfast menu, we selected machacado (eggs scrambled with shredded beef, onion, tomato and jalapeño). The dappled mixture did not stint on the beef. In fact, Cumino's does not stint on anything. The machacado plate was a hearty breakfast for $5.75 and included a bowl of wonderful, soupy charro beans that had still more beef; moist potatoes fried with peppers and tomatoes; and a platter of corn tortillas whose pale color supported Juarez's claim that everything is made on the premises (none of that artificial deep yellow that you see in factory-produced corn tortillas).
We received sides of both green and red salsas to accompany the machacado. From the lunch side of the menu we tried the carnitas plate ($6.75), which was another heaping serving of meat, this time pork cooked slowly till it was soft enough to shred, though there were a couple of big hunks left as if to prove that, yes, we made this in our kitchen and it's not perfect. The carnitas and barbacoa can be purchased by the pound for $10.75. What we like best about Cumino's is that, in addition to Tex-Mex standards like cheese enchiladas and beef tacos, you can order home-cooking-style dishes like tortas (sandwiches on bolillo bread), caldo (beef and vegetable soup) and gorditas (filled balls of goodness that are the Mexican equivalent of the peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich). In the home-cooking vein, we tried picadillo tacos (ground beef cooked with potatoes) and bean and cheese tacos ($1.85 each). Both were respectable, but we preferred the picadillo version simply because you won't find it on many menus. The only disappointment of our Cumino's dining venture was Elisa's black bean nachos ($5.50), billed as Cumino's signature dish, which seemed rather ordinary to us. Perhaps it simply needed more cheese. Juarez says that Cumino's makes its beef fajitas from Nolan Ryan naturally raised beef.
The atmosphere: Let's start with this: Once upon a time the building that houses Cumino's was a Taco Bell. Given that, the place has been buffed and shined and tastefully painted till it's as appealing as a former fast-food chain restaurant can be. Food is ordered at the counter and then eager-to-please servers bring it to your table.
The details: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. No alcohol served currently, but Juarez says he is working toward offering beer.