Sunday, October 26, 2008

FOOD CZAR REVIEW #36: PEPE'S AND MITO'S MEXICAN CAFE

When you go down on Deep Ellum,
Put your money in your socks,
Cause them Women on Deep Ellum,
Sho' will throw you on the rocks.

The above lines are from a song entitled "Deep Ellum Blues". In case you didn't know it, Deep Ellum was a hotbed of blues activity in the 1920's, with Blind Lemon Jefferson literally wandering the streets, and Ledbelly, Robert Johnson, and Bessie Smith playing the clubs. Robert Johnson made his epochal blues recordings just blocks from here in downtown Dallas in the 1930's; Cream's cover of his "Cross Roads Blues" is considered one of the seminal recordings in rock and blues history. If you desire more information on this pivotal place, you must purchase Deep Ellum and Central Track: Where the Black and White Worlds of Dallas Converged, by Alan B Govenar and Jay F Brakefield. Deep Ellum (the name an approximation of the African-American-pronounced "Deep Elm") reached its zenith in the 1980's and 90's, when nightspots such as Video Bar, Art Bar, and Club Dada ruled the scene. Since then, high rents and crime rates have put a damper on the action, but you can still get a good meal in this now-uncrowded scene. A sweet lady named Margie, who toils on behalf of the blog Eating in Dallas, decided to host a Rat-Pack-like Summit Meeting of Dallas food bloggers not long ago, so my lovely wife the Rock Star and I joined several others in making the trip south to this lovely and still (if you look carefully) vibrant historical district, specifically meeting for brunch one Saturday at Pepe's and Mito's Mexican Cafe.

ATMOSPHERE

Hole-In-The-Wall is not just the name for a great blues-and-burger place on Harry Hines, nor is it just the name for the hideout of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You can accurately describe Pepe's and Mito's this way. Historical marker out front. Metered parking on the street and a small adjoining lot (Be sure to feed the meter!). Dim, bar-like lighting indoors. Surprising numbers of tables and chairs crowd into its three dining areas. This father-and-son place has been in business for ages, and does a brisk business during the week due to nearby Baylor Hospital, but weekends are rarely crowded. We entered, and were seated in the bar area with host Marge and husband Hubbard (Eating in Dallas), and were soon joined by Classy & Sassy and Foodie Princess (Dallas Eats), and later by Donna and her Better Half (Donna Cooks), ready and willing for a leisurely brunch.

FOOD

Handmade and homemade with fresh ingredients, this repast started with bracing, lime-infused margaritas, cold and well-made. Hubbard played the genial host and ordered deep-fried, savory beef and chicken taquitos as appetizers. Both versions, like Elvis, left the building quickly. Salsa and chips were full of bite but not obnoxious and complemented our meals perfectly. Everyone ordered different entrees, and I'm not completely privy to their taste, but I must comment on the few I was able to sample. The Rock Stars Fajita Quesadillas were grilled-cheese heaven, with fresh chicken and tortillas, and thoroughly delightful. My own entree, Brunch Tacos with chorizo, rice and beans and papas (fried potatoes), was a great cure for morning hangovers. (Donna felt the same way, as she ordered and devoured them herself.) I'm usually completely satisfied with my own order, but Margie made the mistake of letting me try some of her Beef Fajita Tacos, seasoned with poblano wine sauce. Luckily, she had already eaten her fill, otherwise there would have been a confrontation. Brunch, as I said, was leisurely, and we filled up two plus hours with delightful companionship and conversation. We all declined dessert, boxed up what was ours, and in due course took our leave.

SERVICE & WEBSITE

Well-paced and none, respectively. I've come to expect that Mom-and-Pop Tex-Mex joints will not always have a website. They have not needed it all these years, so why start now? Call 214 741-1901 with any questions or concerns.

OVERALL

Pepe's and Mito's will satisfy su familia for special occasions as well as the run-of-the-mill lunch. Discover this bluesy slice of historic Dallas soon, and remember:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!

4 comments:

Classy&Sassy said...

Great post! FP and I enjoyed meeting you and your sweet, lovely wife on Saturday. We'll be posting on our brunch later today as well.

Food Czar said...

Thanks, C&S. We enjoyed meeting both of you as well, and hope that you will join us for future blogger gatherings. All of us have so much in common and so much to talk about, I feel we've just barely scratched the surface!!

Margie said...

Great review Chris! We've been eating there for years. So, I knew they'd be happy to have us as a group. We had a terrific time, too. I can't wait to do it again. But, you guys are right, the holidays will probably be too hectic to really plan something until after the first of the year. I'm sure it'll be fun when we do meet again and hopefully a few more friends will drop in!

Food Czar said...

Oh, I think they will show up, Margie. In fact, Classy and Sassy has already demanded that The Brad buy a round of margaritas for everyone as punishment for his absence last Saturday!!