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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Holy Molé!

Thursday, September 23, 2010 @ 11:09 AM

033It’s hard to believe it’s Fall already; and as I look at this picture of me in a sundress standing in front of this week’s feature, it’s sometimes weird to think that we don’t live in Dallas anymore…and I’m actually going to get to experience a change in season once again.  It seems poignant, that in a few short months we moved across the country and started the rest of our lives…sort of a change of season for us, and I couldn’t be happier. 

But I’m still thinking about the summer, and nothing takes me there better than good Mexican food; and although there are a lot of Mexican restaurants where we are now (I know I was surprised too), there are not quite as many "authentic" options as there were in Big-D. I mean, come on…it DID USED TO BE Mexico. 😉

On that note, I’m not sure I will ever experience as authentic Mexican cuisine as I did at our next feature spot.  Avila’s Restaurant has been serving up authentic and home-made Mexican meals for 25 years and they don’t seem to be near a stopping point anytime soon; and although they have gone through some modern updates and changes to the decor, their recipes have not changed one bit…recipes passed down through generations since 1985…recipes developed by the matriarch Anita Avila.  Family gatherings were always important to Anita and her husband Octavio, and these same recipes she so lovingly prepared then were the same recipes she began to prepare in their restaurant when it opened in 1986 when the Avila family began "literally" inviting the public into their home to enjoy this freshly prepared food.  Although I said it has had a minor facelift and a portion added on, this is the same home that Anita and her children lived in.  Yes my friends…they turned their home into a restaurant, so if that don’t say “home cooking” I don’t know what does! 

I would have to say that this little gem would have remained hidden to us and we might have moved away without ever experiencing it (it’s one of those local places that is almost as if it is a secret kept under lock and key that only the well deserving locals seem to know about) had it not been for one of our favorite foodies, Guy Fieri. Guy stopped in there one day on Food Network’s "Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives" to sample this hidden treasure.  Check out a clip of what made us realize this place was not the same as all the “other” Mexican joints in town…

 

 

After re-watching this clip, I wish I would have ordered those gorditas on our visit, but I’ll get to that.  Avila’s had been on our list of places to visit for awhile, and when our move became a reality, we knew we would need to make that visit sooner rather than later.  So we invited our friends from church Scott and Ashley to tag along, as well as say goodbye to them as well (they were also moving away to North Carolina…hi guys!).  So the four of us ventured down to just north of downtown Dallas, an area that is pretty run down and I have to say we did not go often; and literally this restaurant is so tucked away (a secret like I said) you could easily miss it if you were not paying attention. I mean…IT’S A HOUSE so you’re not actually looking for it.  But although small in nature, it still welcomes you in as any house might.

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The minute we sat down we were promptly provided with baskets of chips, which it did not take me long to dig into.  In fact, I think our table went through at least 4 or 5 baskets of them before it seemed like we ordered. :)  I may have a small weakness for tortilla chips and these were delish.  Typically, I like thinner and saltier chips, but I must say that these were very authentic, yet still had the crunchiness and saltiness I crave. Also, their salsa was amazing and had a flavor that was extremely unique and kept you wanting more (I think they put pineapple in it).  It took us a little while to peruse the menu (thus the baskets of chips) and decide on what we should all order.  Having already stuffed myself, I settled on the pork tamales. Adam chose the create your own enchiladas so he could sample their famous molé sauce, while Scott and Ashley each got one of their combination plates (and I think there was a brisket taco in there somewhere ;-)).  Although it took us awhile to order, it did not take long to receive our food…which is always appreciated!

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Looks tasty huh?  But after stuffing my face full of chips, I was hardly hungry anymore, although I was still able to chow down on at least one of my tamales.  At the time, I was a bit disappointed with my choice, not because it didn’t taste good, but because it just wasn’t that different of a flavor from the millions of corn chips and salsa I had already mowed down on.  However, thinking about it now, it was a really darn good and fresh tamale. I just think I was oversaturated at that point and all of the flavors were not coming through. 

Adam’s plate on the other hand was a smorgasbord of flavors, particularly in the molé.  I am not sure where he saw it or tried it, but Adam’s world had recently changed with the discovery of molé and I’m not sure he’ll ever be the same. 😉 I have to admit that the nuances in flavor just in the molé alone brought something amazing to that dish, and their sour cream sauce that was on the other enchilada was not half bad either.  According to Adam…it was close to the top for best enchiladas he’d ever had…and he’s had a lot!

After we were all sufficiently stuffed to the gills, I walked around to take in some of the decor, including Guy’s calling card…

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Overall, our trip to Avila’s was a great experience, and it didn’t hurt that it was a great last meal with great friends and in a wonderful atmosphere.  I surely do hope I can make it there again someday, especially because those gorditas look divine!

SIGNATURE DISH: Although they don’t have a particular dish that they call their “signature,” their tamales certainly seem a feature they are proud of; and as seen in the video, a dish they add a little something extra too.  With a menu that only boasts the dishes they love and know they can cook well, it would appear that they are proud to call any of their dishes a signature.  They do not try to cook everything under the sun, just those dishes that have been in the family for years.

TASTE: At the time I was not blown away. However, I’m writing that off to the mistake of stuffing myself with chips…which were delicious by the way.  Thinking back, I did enjoy the extra flavor the masa of my tamale had. It brought a unique element I had never tried before. Also, Adam loved-loved-loved his dish, so much so he could not stop talking about that molé for days!  I think it safe to say we have a molé enthusiast on our hands! 😉

AMBIANCE: I truly loved the idea that this restaurant is literally in a house!  Although not huge, it was spacious enough to feel like you were in a regular restaurant yet it had that charm of a quaint little authentic spot only you have discovered.  And I felt that because this was literally the home Anita developed these dishes, it just felt extremely authentic and made with love. One caveat, however…parking is an issue. They only have 5 or so parking spots, plus a lot they share next door that has about 10 more. Granted, the inside only can seat about that many, but at busy time, it isn’t in the best of neighborhoods to park far away.

PRICE: For lunch, this place is a little pricy. You can expect to pay around $15 per person for whatever you get, which in my opinion is a bit high for Mexican. Sure this is not your ordinary Mexican and perhaps you’re paying for the extra flavor…but it could have been a little less. Still, it was not high enough to keep me away if I still lived close by…so that’s a push.

SERVICE: Our service was wonderful and the wait staff (we had 2) was very patient with us, even though it took us a little while to order.  They had no problem continually bringing us fresh chips and salsa, and once we did order, I mentioned that our food was out to us extremely quick. 

All around we really enjoyed ourselves, and I would go back in a heartbeat. Plus it is always good to share a meal with friends…especially when it is a good meal.  So I think that Scott and Ashley would agree with me in giving Avila’s Restaurant 4 ‘Little Piggies.’

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2 Responses to “Holy Molé!”

  1. Scott says:

    Such great food!
    Had such a great time with you guys!
    Hope you’re doing well 🙂

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