Seven Tex-Mex hangouts to fill the void en su corazón

Chips and salsa from El Taxqueño Taquería (Photo by Kathy Tran)

When the original Gloria’s closed in 2011, our neighborhood lost a homey hangout. Sure, the new Gloria’s, in a renovated vintage fire house a few blocks away, is nice.

But it wasn’t the same.

Then two years later, the owners of Tejano Restaurant, with its lime-green margaritas and gaudy paint, reworked the outdated restaurant into El Corazon de Tejas. And the new old Gloria’s was born.

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Corazon became the locals’ hangout for strong margaritas and cravable Tex-Mex. Sadly, that old building likely will be torn down for a CVS store. Now we are in search of the new, new old Gloria’s, or the new old Corazon.

These are our picks to fill the chile-covered void en su corazón. We know you’ll let us hear about your favorites too.

Gloria’s

Yes, they have valet parking, and the staff wears headsets to communicate throughout the vast space. But the margaritas are brilliant, and the complimentary black beans practically count as a meal. Plus, this outpost of Dallas’ favorite Salvadoran/Tex-Mex place has one of the best patios in Dallas.

El Ranchito

This Dallas Tex-Mex classic is housed in a 1947 Dilbeck building on West Jefferson that originally was built for Red Bryan’s Smokehouse. Owned and operated by the Sanchez family, El Ranchito has top-notch mariachis and table-top parrillas. There’s no other place like El Ranchito, which also focuses on entertainment, including Elvis nights in January and August as well as musical performances throughout the year.

La Calle Doce

La Calle is the Sanchez family’s other Oak Cliff enterprise, which started in a small house and now has a big party room and rear patio dining room. We dream about the fish soup.

Gonzalez

While hip new businesses spring up in the 300 block of West Jefferson, Gonzalez remains. We hope they never update the decor, which includes covetable neon signs from the ’90s, papel picado and party lights strung from the ceiling. Gonzalez offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, and their pillowy flour tortillas are like no others.

Herrera’s Cafe

The old Herrera’s in North Dallas defined Tex-Mex for generations of Dallasites. It’s gone now, but the owners of the original Herrera’s Cafe moved it to Sylvan Avenue a few years ago. How can we complain about losing anything when the actual Herrera’s is right there in West Dallas? That’s just being ungrateful. There’s also another Herrera’s on Wright at Illinois, which has the same complimentary pinto beans and the same chili gravy plus the bonus of BYOB.

El Fenix

Firebird Restaurant Group acquired El Fenix in 2008, and now there are outposts seemingly everywhere. But the Oak Cliff location of El Fenix, a Dallas institution for 100 years, opened on Colorado Boulevard in 1948. You would be sad if it closed; have you eaten there lately?

Mi Sazon

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This mom-and-pop restaurant near Kiest Park serves huge Tex-Mex portions plus authentic Mexican dishes like menudo and chicken soup. They have a full bar plus a selection of licuados.

Really there are too many great Tex-Mex, Mex and taco places in Oak Cliff to mention. We’d give nods to El Joran, El Padrino, El Tacaso, El Pueblo and La Oaxaqueña among many others. So let us know. What’s your go-to hangout in Oak Cliff?

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  • Michael Connally

    Tachito’s on Illinois, off Westmoreland, by the DART station fills the bill for authentic Oak Cliff Tex-Mex since the 1970s.

  • I’ve been a taqueria fan for years. I remember Herrera’s and Jefferson Avenue from the list here. I wrote a model essay for my Developmental English/Writing textbook about Taqueria Rincon Tapatio, located on East Jefferson between Beckley and Zang (at least in the late 90’s). I referred to Taqueria Chano’s on W. Jefferson near Polk in this model essay too.