Flamingo’s Takes Flight

This newish Northside eatery transcends narrow labels to achieve unique culinary heights.
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Posted June 12, 2013 by JIMMY FOWLER in Eats
Steak, shrimp, and chicken fajitas are waiting at Flamingo’s. Lee ChastainSteak, shrimp, and chicken fajitas are waiting at Flamingo’s. Lee Chastain

The recently opened Flamingo’s, located on the North Side just south of the Stockyards, specializes in recipes from the area of Acapulco and the state of Guerrero on Mexico’s Pacific coast. The surprise isn’t that the menu is so heavy on seafood — in addition to being a vaycay mecca, Acapulco is also a thriving port city — but that the owners have made so few Tex-Mex concessions to attract less-adventurous palates. From its fresh-veggie garnishes to its coastal twists on south-of-the-border favorites, Flamingo’s proudly stakes a claim for regional differences in Mexican cooking.

We began by sampling two appetizers: the queso fundido mixto and the pescadillas. This queso was much more decadent than most restaurants’ versions of that traditional meal starter. A thick, piping-hot sheet of velvety white cheese mixed with fresh tomato pieces, onions, and chiles, the queso was generously sprinkled with large crumbles of highly seasoned chorizo. It was a dynamite combo that actually got better once the queso had cooled slightly, reaching a smooth, warm, pâté-like consistency that made it an ideal filling for the incredible housemade corn tortillas, which were as soft as the flour version. The chorizo was lean but full of earthy flavors that were subtle and suggestive of sage.

From the menu description, we assumed the pescadillas would be what most Tex-Mex restaurants call flautas — rolled-up, deep-fried corn tortillas stuffed with shredded meat. Yes, the pescadillas were deep-fried and delicately crisp, but they were folded over like small tacos rather than being rolled and were filled with hearty pieces of white fish laced with fiery chiles. With little flair for the gastronomically dramatic, these non-greasy seafood pockets were strong with simple, natural flavors.

The filet de pollo relleno entrée — a baked, breaded chicken breast stuffed with ham and white cheese — turned out to be lighter (thankfully) than it sounded. The breast itself was small-ish and tender and the breading light and crumbly. The thin salty pork slices and gooey cheese hidden inside sang harmony with the poultry instead of overpowering it in a messy comfort-food coup. A generous helping of fluffy, sticky rice and thick, incredibly fresh avocado slices made the meal satisfying but not burdensome.

That wonderful rice returned big-time for a seafood dish, camarones a la Veracruzana. Mixed in with the hearty grains of rice were big tail-on shrimps that had been brushed with olive oil and garlic and grilled. Also featuring crisp slices of bell pepper, juicy red tomato, and delicate white onion, the dish was reminiscent of a shrimp paella and just as delicious.

The chicken tamales costeños were advertised as a Pacific Coast variation on the beloved Mexican staple, and they were marvelous. Steamed in sturdy dark green banana leaves until they were nearly as soft as cheese, these tamales had a just-right balance of flavorful shredded chicken breast inside and satiny cornmeal-based masa outside. Like most of the dishes at Flamingo’s, they demonstrated that with the right ratio of quality ingredients, regional Mexican cuisine doesn’t need a lot of over-the-top creativity to look and taste great.

 

Flamingo’s

1549 N Main St, FW. 817-378-0025.

11am-10pm, Sun-Thu, 11am-11pm Fri-Sat.

All major credit cards accepted.

Queso fundido mixto ………………… $7.55

Pescadillas ……………………………… $8.95

Filet de pollo relleno …………………. $9.95

Chicken tamales costenos ………… $8.95

Camarones a la Veracruzana …. $13.95

 


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