The cuisine: Traditional Tex-Mex and not-so-traditional Thursday chicken-and-dumplings. The restaurant also touts its handful of "heart-smart" Mexican selections.
The backstory: Every neighborhood needs a low-key, low-cost, just-like-Abuela-used-to-make-it restaurant. For the West Vickery area, that was Fernandez Cafe, owned and operated by Betty Ruiz for 17 years. Ruiz closed the cafe about a year ago, but now it's back, with former server Olga Garcia running the show this time. Longtime patrons will be pleased, for other than a spiffy paint job, little has changed about the restaurant.
The food: Breakfast is our favorite meal for eating-out-Mexican, and Fernandez Cafe offers breakfast all day, so we decided to explore the eggs-and-more side of the menu.
We liked that the corn tortilla strips in the migas ($5.50) had some tooth to them. The huevos rancheros ($5.50) were topped with a mild salsa. Mexican oatmeal in mama bear, papa bear and baby bear sizes ($1.75, $2.75 and $3.75) is nicely redolent of cinnamon and vanilla, though perhaps a tad too sweet. Breakfast burritos ($2.25 and $3.50) are a popular to-go item. Patrons looking for a healthful breakfast might try the low-cal breakfast burrito, made with egg whites, Mexican cheese, tomatoes and whole beans.
That burrito is just one of a number of dishes created in response to the request of a trio of cardiologists for some heart-healthy options on the menu of their Tex-Mex hangout, explains Fernandez manager Caesar Arellano. The Barlow bowl, the Kendall bowl and the Rick bowl are named after the doctors. The most popular, the Rick bowl ($5.50 and $6.50 sizes), features whole beans, rice and cilantro chicken topped with lettuce and tomatoes.
Another Fernandez menu notable is the "ladies special" plate ($4.50). On a second visit to Fernandez Cafe, the single cheese enchilada accompanied by beans and rice was just the right size for our oh-so-dainty appetite. (Stop laughing; it really was.)
The atmosphere: Before Garcia reopened the restaurant, she did some remodeling, removing a wall to open up the place and hiring an artist from Granbury to paint a mural on one wall. New chairs are in bright colors. Though still far from slick, the overall effect is pleasing.
The details: Hours are 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. No smoking, wheelchair-accessible, no alcohol served but BYOB is fine. Major credit cards and Press Pass accepted.