Los Molcajetes, 960 US 287 Frontage Rd, Mansfield. 817-473-1882. 9am-9pm Sun. 11am-9:30pm Mon-Thu, 11am-10pm Fri, 9am-10pm Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Los Molcajetes Mexican Restaurant in Mansfield awkwardly faces the Highway 287 frontage road, so there’s no easy entrance if you’re driving southbound. It’s as though the place is playing hard to get (or at least hard to get to). The eatery’s coy disposition doesn’t seem to deter anyone –– the parking lot is almost always full.
When you walk in, you won’t find kitschy Elvis pictures or Dios de los Muertos memorabilia, only adobe orange-and-turquoise-painted walls, some neon beer signs, and very basic brown furniture.
My recent meal started off auspiciously with a basket of chips and two salsas. The fresh, savory, mild, blood-red salsa heavy on the cilantro came out in a plastic molcajete (the restaurant’s namesake traditional bowl, used in Mexican cuisine along with a pestle for grinding spices). A second, smaller ramekin of a spicy, darker, cumin-kissed version was equally as tasty, but my guests and I couldn’t wolf it down quite as fast because of the heat level.
The queso was definitely tailored to the norteamericano palate. The giant boat of easy-melt cheese had very little flavor despite the dainty chunks of peppers and onions. Fortunately, the tortilla soup was a scrumptious garden of al dente veggies along with nice-sized chunks of chicken in a broth that was more soothing than fiery. The excellent, fragrant house-made flour tortillas with some butter are worth requesting as an addition.
But don’t fill up too much on the chips and tortillas. The portions – even on the lunch menu – are substantial. The plate-sized cheese chicken chile relleno was so overstuffed with gooey cheese that some bites looked like a pizza commercial, with the oozy, stretchy strings of cheese clinging to both the plate and the fork. The crust on the relleno was a tad soggy. Otherwise, the whole package was delicious.
Tamales may be seasonal at other restaurants, but here, tamales are served all year ’round. The light, fluffy masa batter on the three huskless pork tamales was perfectly steamed. Additionally, the extremely generous meat-to-masa ratio was unusual. Two tamales would have been more than enough for a meal, but the regular portion comes with three, and pork is the only option.
The mushroom-and-onion enchiladas proved to be a surprisingly satisfying meatless dish. Thick slices of fresh sautéed white button mushrooms and fajita-style thickly sliced onions came wrapped in corn tortillas and smothered in traditional enchilada sauce. Some of the onions could have benefitted from a little more time on the skillet, but the overall combo was enjoyable and created the illusion of a healthy vegetarian meal.
The ample amount of chicken in the al a carte chicken taco poured out of its flour tortilla. The bird was simmered in a light sauce with chunks of tomato. At less than $3, the single taco was almost a meal in itself.
All entrées are served with thick, silky refried beans and fairly standard red Mexican rice. The one complaint – and this was a product of how we ordered – was that all the entrées were covered in brown ranchero or enchilada sauce, both pretty much the same color as the beans. The sauce was good eats even if the plate wasn’t pretty.
The table made short work of Los Molcajetes’s specialty dessert. Two sweet burrito-like fried tortillas stuffed with creamy cheesecake, the Xango was served with vanilla ice cream and plate accents of cajeta and chocolate syrup. It was like a delicious churro on steroids.
Los Molcajetes has two other locations, one in Roanoke and far north Fort Worth. At the mini-chain’s Mansfield location, the food is comforting, tasty, and plentiful. On weekends, you can get a bowl of menudo or some chilaquiles along with breakfast tacos.
Single pulled chicken taco $2.95
Chile relleno $8.25
Pork tamales $8.25