We're all big fans of Mexican food around here. If you give my kids a choice of restaurants, 9 out of 10 times they'll choose 3Margaritas. Which I always pronounced "Three Margaritas" until my local friend told me it's actually "Tres Margaritas" so now we don't make that mistake any longer. As I was saying, we love Mexican food, and go out for it as often as our budget allows. So on our road trip last weekend, we spotted La Espanola II cafe in Dalhart, Texas, and being lunchtime and all, we considered stopping. We saw a trucker crossing the highway on foot to La Espanola II, and we were laughing that it MUST be a good place if someone will risk their life crossing the highway for lunch. That was the decisive factor, so we turned Minnie-the-van around and pulled in the very crowded parking lot. A good sign indeed.
This place was a dive folks. It was tiny and it was packed with lots of locals who all knew each other and kept coming over to for a quick hello, and "did you get any rain out at your place, Frank?" One lady came up to the couple seated nearby and gave 'em each a big hug and said, "Sugar, I'm Mary Francis Oates Burnby, and I've been knowing you since I was 5", or something like that. It was sweet and John and I were nostalgic for our days of small town livin'. We were most definitely the outsiders at Las Espanola II.
The waitress finally came with our Mason jars of iced tea and a big basket of tortilla chips and some salsa and took our order. And that's about the time things started going south for me. The chips were swimming in grease. Ugh, ugh, and ugh. The paper liner at the bottom of the basket had about 3/4 cup of oil in it and I just couldn't eat another one after I saw that. And the salsa. Ugh, again. I'm 99% certain it was Pace picante sauce which had been doctored up with a little extra onion. I haven't bought Pace in the last 10 years...why would I when there are soooooo many gourmet varieties out there? Let's just say I live for salsa. I'm a salsa snob. La Espanola II was off to a bad start.
And then we waited, and waited, and WAITED for our food. I still think we experienced some discrimination in Dalhart, TX because all the locals who came in after us got served before we did. John should've worn his Wranglers and cowboy boots, because I'm pretty sure the Patagonia and Tevas (and probably his ponytail) made us stick out like sore thumbs! We screamed NOT FROM AROUND HERE!
Finally our food arrived, and I was so looking forward to my chicken enchiladas. John too. We both took a bite and then another, and still couldn't figure out what exactly was so, um, unique about these enchiladas. Neither of us had tasted anything quite like this before. After two bites, I opened up my tortilla and would you believe it was stuffed with fried chicken tenders??? Only in Texas. Or in the South, cause you know they fry everything down there--which gives Tex-Mex a whole new meaning for me. Good lord, it was gross. Hands down the worst enchilada dinner I've ever been served. I struggled to even finish it.
Earlier we had marveled at how inexpensive their lunch menu was. We never find lunch specials for $5 where we live. And now we know why. We paid our bill and left, then stopped a few miles down the road for gas and an ice cream treat. I was so looking forward to some Blue Bell. After all, we were in TEXAS, and you know how proud they are of their Blue Bell. Again, disapointment. There was every variety of Blue BUNNY you could imagine, but no Blue Bell in sight. I'll be forever grateful to that bunny though for getting the taste of La Espanola out of my system!
Moral of the story: If you ever find yourself passing through Dalhart, TX and are tempted to try the local mexican dive, keep on driving. There's a DQ down the street that looks rather inviting.