Times are good for local lovers of Tex-Mex and Mexican food, with no fewer than four new Mexican restaurants either on the way to Fort Worth or already here.
The first freestanding brick-and-mortar location of Salsa Limón should be open any day now, in the historic Topsy's Cafe building. Not far behind will be the nearby Trevino's Comida Mexicana on Montgomery Street. And opening soon in the old Zippy's spot on the north side of Fort Worth: Flamingo's Homestyle Mexican Food.
But right now, all eyes are on Enchiladas Olé, opened in February by first-time restaurateur Mary Perez. The Fort Worth mom of three has spent the past two years winning accolades for her enchilada sauces, carried at local grocers Central Market and Roy Pope Grocery.
You could call Enchiladas Olé a "jar to table" restaurant, since the restaurant is an outgrowth of the popularity of Perez's sauces. Aside from a handful of appetizers, the menu at her tiny, cheery restaurant is made up only of enchiladas -- five kinds, including vegetarian stuffed with zucchini and grilled poblanos. In an area jammed with taquerias and small Mexican restaurants, Enchiladas Olé has a neat little niche.
Perez also sets her restaurant apart from others by using chicken and brisket smoked on-site. She uses an electric smoker that burns pecan chips, so don't expect Central Texas-style barbecue.
It is, however, a welcome touch, and it does wonders for the chicken enchiladas ($6.99), served two per order, with rice, beans and a small salad, as are all the enchilada dinners. Blanketed atop the enchiladas, the verde sauce was out of sight -- light and bright with a zippy, citrusy flavor. Inside, shredded chicken was nicely smoky but with an extra, curry-fueled kick.
Good molé sauces aren't easy to come by in Fort Worth, but Perez's, found on the enmoladas ($6.99), is a keeper. Two enchiladas filled with chicken came topped with this lovely sauce, made with real Mexican chocolate and poblanos. Its texture was perfect, not overly heavy and not meek and runny. Likewise, its taste was a bull's-eye balance between sweet and heat.
Our favorite dish was the simplest -- the original enchiladas ($5.99). Often called "red enchiladas," these came filled with diced onions and cheddar cheese and topped with an outstanding ancho chile red sauce -- probably the best we've had in the area, not incredibly spicy but with peppery bite.
While rice and beans can sometimes come off as an afterthought, those at Enchilada Olé were unique. Refried beans were lighter than most and the rice was dynamite: soft, not sticky and robustly flavored.
Dessert came in the form of a rich piece of pineapple flan ($3), supplied by Bistro Desserts in North Richland Hills, but dressed up in-house with streaks of chocolate syrup and coconut flakes.
Our young server was chatty and exuberant; with food this good, he had reason to be.