There's no denying the unique look of Tres Casas Mexican Grill. It's small, with siding like an old house and a flat roof. Inside, almost everything is within arm's reach. I think it's the smallest sit-down restaurant I've ever been to. (But it does have a large patio.)
Tres Casas belongs to Morayma and Gerardo Devora, and although it's billed as a "Mexican Grill," you'll mostly find traditional Tex-Mex: tacos, quesadillas, etc.
Like the restaurant, the menu is small -- a single page that serves as both the lunch and dinner menus (you'll save a couple of bucks at lunch).
Plates are served with the standard sides -- rice and refried beans -- which are, again, pretty standard.
Although the sides aren't memorable, the real character is in what takes up most of the plate. Tostadas ($7.75), which I rarely see on menus, were loaded with ground beef, lettuce, tomato and cheese topped with chilled sour cream. They were messy, but had a loud and satisfying crunch.
After an experiment with Taco Bell's new Cool Ranch taco failure, I was in desperate need of tacos of superior quality.
The tacos Americanos ($7.75) were crispy shells stuffed with the same beef and toppings as the tostadas. Unlike with the franchise taco, I had no shame in tilting my head to down a whole taco with actual flavor.
And the crunch continued with the flautas ($7.75), crispiness wrapped around tender shredded beef and chicken. I recommend you dip both in sour cream and guacamole, consume and repeat.
Unfortunately, the grilled Tampiqueña steak plate ($8.99), a modest attempt at a skirt steak and chicken enchilada, was silenced by the energetic crunchiness of all the tacos and tostadas.
But you can spice it up with Gerardo's dizzying salsa verde, made in-house. If you're a salsa freak, you'll freak over his incendiary, semisweet creation.
Two desserts are also made in-house: tres leches cake, which was more like a regular piece of cake and far too dry, and flan, which had a pleasant coffeelike aftertaste. And it was denser than traditional flan, also a plus.
The one dish that stood on its own, not surprisingly, was Tres Casas ($8.75), three tacos al pastor with seasoned pork chunks, served with cilantro and onions, topped with pineapple (50 cents). Covered in a sweet and spicy rub, the pork left a welcome greasiness on my mouth.
And despite their lack of the crunch that had me sold earlier, there was nothing small about the al pastor tacos' engaging texture and flavor.
I dare you to pair them with that stunningly spicy salsa verde.