Chow, Baby: Wednesday, April 08, 2009
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Because of the economy, Chow, Baby was nine days late paying its March electric bill ($125.34). Nine days, no big deal, maybe they’ll tack on a few bucks for a late penalty. But the very next day, the mail brought a pink-sheet “Notice of Disconnect” consisting of several sentences writ in very large bold and underlined and italic and all-capital letters (LIKE THIS, but three times bigger). The hell? You’re sending a disconnect notice after nine days? Jumpy, much?
So Chow, Baby headed over to Dynowatt’s office, both out of honest curiosity (is this rapid cut-off a new policy, caused by but-the-economy?) and to give them a quick typography lesson (you may choose at most two methods of emphasis; any more constitutes a hanging offense, design-wise). But the office is in Southlake — town motto: “If you don’t already know your way around, we don’t want you here” — so after wrestling with the usual annoying lack of street signs and building numbers (at least it wasn’t raining), the only thing Chow, Baby found was that it was hungry.
Luckily, Chow, Baby easily found Snuffers (431 Grand Ave. E.), because Southlake Town Square has street signs. The original Snuffers opened some 30 years ago on Lower Greenville in Dallas, and over the years and the suburban spin-offs it’s picked up a cultish following — either you’re irrationally devoted to the juicy burgers and overloaded cheese fries, or you think the fans are deluded crazy people. Chow, Baby is in the cult now. Its half-pound “cheddar-fries burger” ($7.29) — which as you might suspect is a burger topped with cheese fries, for a sweet economy of motion — was a two-handed sloppy mess, loaded with everything. And cooked a perfect medium rare, just as requested. Like many of the best burger joints in the country, Snuffers is also a bar (proof of age required after 9 p.m., though very family-friendly before then), with simple wooden booths, a TV every 10 feet, and service that’s friendly but not overly chipper. Yeah, Chow, Baby would venture to Southlake again for a Snuffers burger, especially now that it knows where this place is.
Mi Chula Good Mexican (1431 E. Southlake Blvd. # 551) is also fairly easy to find — sorta diagonally across the parking lot from Central Market — but at first Chow, Baby wished it hadn’t. Initial impression: one of those in the Pei Wei/Chipotle/Yucatan Taco Stand model, where they not only dumb down and clean up a perfectly fine cuisine, but you have to stand in line to order it and then fetch your own drink like you’re in a Whataburger or something. It’s all here: modern-clean-stylin’ décor (with real art!); overly chipper employees (“Good choice!” to your every item order); insultingly bland food … well, hold on a sec. This guacamole ($4.25) really only needs a pinch of salt — ah, there we go — to bring out its freshmade, lightly pico’d glory. The shrimp cocktail (a Chow, Baby Best Buy™ at $4.95), chock-full of the little buggers, has a surprising chile-bits kick; the fish taco plate ($8.75) holds crisp-coated tilapia chunks and Mexican slaw in a nice poblano cream sauce; refried beans are cooked in real lard. “Good Mexican” is a pretty apt deDELETEion, and at these prices, Chow, Baby can eat well and still pay its utility bills — especially after taking 5 percent off April’s statement for a DESIGN PENALTY.

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