Extra Mustard and Hold the Mayans
If you believe all the Mayan calendar hype, then you may suspect that we don’t have much more time on this planet. I don’t understand why people are putting so much stock into the Mayan’s prophecy — they have a terrible track record at predicting the end of civilizations (see: The Mayans) — but I’m preparing for the worst just in case. Luckily, I still have pallets of bottled water and several crates of canned beans left over from my Y2K stash. My only remaining preparation for the apocalypse is to dive headlong into a Caligula-quality food bender. Cholesterol, waistline, and self-respect be damned.
If indeed the world is coming to an end, I’m going to take as much Mexican/Tex-Mex delight with me as I can. The first stop on my to-go-box-to-hell tour was Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana (3405 W. 7thSt.), for some upscale Mexican fare. While Lanny’s isn’t for the tight of fist, I say if there’s no tomorrow then let’s spend like it. (I’m hoping canned beans and sass will be the new world currency for any survivors.) Despite its ambitious menu and concept, it’s not hard to feel comfortable in Lanny’s relaxed, homey setting.
My guest and I started with the duck confit tamales ($9), which were moist and fluffy, though the taste of the meat was a little obscured by the thick dough. The accompanying mole poblano was beautifully rich and smoky. The entrée of braised pork shank ($32) reached the exact level of decadence required for a last meal. It was served on the bone, though it didn’t stay on it very long. The tender meat abandoned it at the slightest touch of the fork and fell into the delicious orange, mildly sweet/tart mole Amarillo.
I wanted to check Mariposa’s Latin Kitchen (5724 Locke Ave.) before the end of days. I might have been better served to skip it altogether and spend one of my last remaining meals somewhere I’d eaten before and enjoyed. The tiny, boxy brick dining room set in a strip mall just off Camp Bowie Boulevard was nearly empty on my recent afternoon visit.
With “Latin Kitchen” in the name, I was expecting a more ambitious menu. But I wouldn’t have minded the joint’s simple Mex/Tex-Mex fare had it been better seasoned. Most of what my guest and I ordered begged for more salt and spice. The guacamole appetizer ($4.95) was fresh and creamy but desperately needed salt. Same story for both the pork tamales and also a jalapeño-and-cheddar version ($4.25 each). Both were drowned in cheese, which produced a one-note flavor. The pork was tender, moist, and flavorful, but its taste couldn’t penetrate the layer of cheese. The highlight of the meal was the roasted chicken enchiladas, covered in a mild poblano sauce. It too had a layer of cheese and could have used a little more spice. But the slow-roasted chicken was excellent and could have stood on its own.
Toward the end of my crawl, I stumbled on a strip mall in Southwest Fort Worth and into the sparsely decorated dining room of Las Michoacanas (3401 Altamesa Blvd.). The place was empty save for two eager-to-please women working the counter. On their recommendation, my guest and I sampled the tacos al vapor ($1.99), which were like a steamed cross between a tamale and a taco, stuffed with beef and topped with parmesan cheese, of all things. They were decent, but the tacos de carne deshebrada en chipotle cascabel and tacos de pastor ($1.25) both outshone their modest strip-mall setting. The chicken fajita tacos were just OK. Everything was served with pickled veggies, chopped cabbage, cilantro, onions, and a standard-issue salsa verde. It was a decent if not spectacular meal. My only complaint was that everything was served lukewarm.
There’s something very liberating about eating like you’re about to die. Then again, I’ll take any excuse to party. And if the Mayans’ predictions of doom are spot-on, well … to quote R.E.M., “It’s the end of the world as we know it/And I feel fine.”
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