Chow, Baby: Wednesday, March 27, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Adios to Etoufee

Jonesing for Tex-Mex, Chow, Baby tore itself away from its ancestral home (New Orleans, for the benefit of those who missed last week’s episode) and drove straight through to Watauga, for once not even stopping for gumbo-to-go at the Boudin Shop in Breaux Bridge. Because only one thing will quench Chow, Baby’s most powerful Tex-Mex cravings: the El Tampico platter ($8.55) at Mi Rae’s. This comprises a sour cream spinach enchilada, a sour cream chicken enchilada, a cheese enchilada, and a puffed taco filled with, among other things, sour cream. The enchiladas are overstuffed with (as the case may be) sautéed spinach, shredded chicken breast, and sharp grated cheese; the puffed taco is just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.

Proprietor Rae Vasquez has the continental charm of a Miami Beach club owner; Chow, Baby pictures him greeting celebrities and kissing ladies’ hands rather than manning the register in a Denton Highway strip mall, adding queso to a to-go order because he likes the patron’s smile. (The rich, creamy cheese dip was marvelous, by the way.) His friendly elegance de-cloys the Tex-Mex kitsch — lots of purple piñata coyotes howling at ceramic parrots — and makes the chimichangas, carne asada, broiled shrimp, tacos, combo plates, and $4.95 lunch specials even more special.

Oceano of Luck

In business for six months now, El Oceano has apparently beaten the curse of 3412 E. Belknap. There must have been a couple of thousand Mexican restaurants in that building over the last decade, almost all very good, almost all out of business as soon as they opened. Chow, Baby is weary of falling in love (as with Los Caporales last year) only to be abandoned weeks later, with the same old mocking “For Sale” sign stabbed in the grass like a dagger in Chow, Baby’s heart.

But, ever the fool for love, Chow, Baby turned into the familiar parking lot, entered the familiar building, and (surprise) fell in love. First with the lightly spiffed-up space, painted in two shades of calming ocean blue; next with the merry owner, Jose Cuñiga, who opened this place with his wife because all their kids were grown and she had no one to cook for. Well, the Cuñigas can cook for Chow, Baby any time. The wonderfully named coctel vuelve a la vida ($9.55) is a ceviche of shrimp, oysters, octopus, and fish in a marinade that tasted wonderfully like gazpacho. Fries, salad, and perfect fried shrimp, crispy outside and tender inside, graced an $8.95 platter. Chow, Baby will soon return for whole deep-fried catfish, shrimp sautéed in butter and garlic, and maybe a non-seafood dish like chicken in poblano sauce. If the place is still in business, that is.

You can contact Chow, Baby at chowbaby@fwweekly.com


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