The curse of calling a place a “mom ’n’ pop” restaurant is that it brings the word “homey” to mind, and homey is anathema to snobs looking for the latest chic food kick, whether it’s palatable or not.
But for non-snobby foodies, homey means a place where you feel at home or feel as if you are in some imaginary home where people serve you for a change, rather than the other way around. Though our service at Casa Robles was a bit erratic last weekend — kind of like telling your 17-year-old to pick up his clothes for the umpteenth time — the place was warm and friendly. And the food was good. Maybe nothing that you can’t find on the North Side, but if you happen to be in Hurst, Casa Robles will not only fill you up but also please your tastebuds. For lunch not too long ago, a few guests and I sat in the smoking section, a single room with a thick carpet and, on the wall, a huge mural of a pastoral Mexican landscape. We started with Robles’ sampler appetizer platter: mini-flautas, beef fajita nachos, cheese quesadillas, guacamole, and queso. Nothing new here, but all of it was done well, particularly the tasty and plentiful beef on the nachos.
We followed up the apps with trocitos con chile rojo, costilla de puerco en salsa verde, and a plate of chiles rellenos. The trocitos, beef tips cooked in a red chile sauce that was zesty but not hot, were melt-in-your-mouth soft. The costillas were a large portion of pork spare ribs in a tart green tomatillo sauce. The meat was done just right: tender enough to slip easily from the bone but textured solidly enough to give you something to sink your teeth into. Equally well done were the traditional chiles rellenos — smoky green poblano peppers stuffed with Monterey jack, coated in a seasoned egg batter, deep fried, covered with a rich ranchero sauce and topped with a mixed-cheese melt. It was a caloric meltdown but a full cut above most chiles rellenos and worth the extra miles I’ll have to jog to ease my conscience. (Or maybe not.)
All of the entrées were served with refried beans and poblano-infused yellow-rice. Like everything from the tortillas to the soups, the sides are made fresh and spiced up to give them a nice little zing. (The menu also offers several shrimp and goat dishes, along with a fair selection of American items, from rib-eyes and T-bones to barbecued ribs and chicken.)
The place is owner Regino Robles’ first foray into the restaurant business. It’s been open for two years now and was packed at the time of our visit.
Appetizer sampler $8.95
Trocitos con chile rojo $7.95
Costilla de puerco
en salsa verde $8.25