Capturing on one menu the culinary traditions of our southern neighbor and its Texified relatives — brisket nachos, anyone? — is no small feat, and some restaurants pull it off better than others. Lucita’s Mexican Cocina, which opened in early 2018 on the East Side, pairs delectable and well-presented enchiladas, burritos, and tacos with authentic traditional Mexican dishes like aguachile, ceviche, and tortas.
On a recent visit, the air pulsed with effervescent, upbeat mariachi music. In the single dining area that is packed with 12 tables, the décor is bright but thoughtful. Spanish mission-style window frames, multicolored clay animals, and a few paintings add a pop to the otherwise drab gray walls. The restaurant’s Instagram page promises scratch-made, authentic Mexican-style cuisine, and many of the plates that were served that day delivered on that promise.
The first dish out was two tacos: pork rinds and al pastor, and they didn’t disappoint. The fried pork skin was similar in flavor and texture to the popular bagged snack. The chicharron retained its crunchy texture, and the drizzle of red tomatillo sauce added a welcome level of heat. The taco was delicious but not very filling. The al pastor had more heft. Bright red cuts of pork had the welcome flavors of citrus and guajillo chile.
The green chile chicken enchiladas were attentively presented. The refried beans were anything but mushy, and the Mexican rice similarly had a pleasant al dente bite. Holding the entree together were thick yet soft homemade corn tortillas. The bird was incredibly soft and retained a rich chicken-stew flavor. One supposed centerpiece, the green chile, was barely noticeable under the melted sharp cheddar. The overall effect was one of mild flavors that complemented one another rather than competed.
In a manner similar to ceviche, citric acid is used in aguachile to denature raw seafood (typically shrimp). Unlike ceviche, though, the morsels of seafood are left in a soup of lime juice. Lucita’s serves the dish in three sizes. I opted for the small bowl. Around a dozen plump and fresh shrimp came submerged under red lime juice. The reddish hue derived from the diced red onions that added a bit of bitterness that balanced the acidity. Four slices of avocado and bits of cilantro rounded out the entree, which was incredibly refreshing. Lucita’s aguachile is served with two thick masa shells that are the perfect platform for scooping out bits of shrimp.
The chile relleno — served with rice and refried beans — was large, lightly battered, and stuffed with a savory blend of ground beef and Monterrey Jack cheese. There was nothing earth-shattering about the large fried pepper, but it was cooked to perfection.
My advice: Save room for the flan. The custard was sweet and infused with vanilla. A light drizzle of caramel and a dollop of whipped cream rounded out the heavenly dessert. The flan’s texture was firm yet creamy — the perfect ending to a fully satisfying dining experience.
Lucita’s Mexican Cocina, 3912 E 1st St, FW. 817-720-5505. 10am-5pm Mon-Thu, 9am-5pm Sat.
Lucita’s Mexican Cocina
Green chile chicken enchiladas $11
Beef chile relleno $10.50
Pork rind and al pastor tacos $5