Dallas is no stranger to Mexican food—I mean, there’s practically a tex-mex place on every corner. But, about a year ago Jalisco Norte opened on Oak Lawn next to the Zyn22 and I thought to myself, “oh a new tex-mex spot. Cool. I need to check it out.” And I filed it away in my mind but never got around to actually trying it.
BIG.MIS.TAKE. … and not just for missing out on amazing food, but for assuming it was “just another tex-mex place”. Last week I finally went to check out Jalisco Norte to taste Chef José Meza Arróyave’s new menu and I learned that nothing about this restaurant is like a typical tex-mex spot. You won’t find massive plates of greasy enchiladas or a combination plate that you need a separate table to eat—but don’t worry, there is still queso and guacamole! Instead, you will find a refreshing menu of agave-inspired cocktails and uniquely assembled dishes. Overall, the restaurant’s vibe heavily relies on all of Chef Meza’s experiences growing up and cooking in Mexico City. (In fact, there were the coolest masks covering the walls and each and every one of them was hand-picked by the owners in Mexico City.)
During our tasting, the chef said his goal for when people dine at Jalisco Norte is for his food to give them a sense of nostalgia—they wanted diners to know the dishes they grew up with. So he uses everything he has learned all over the world as a guide and uses local ingredients to compliment his expertise.
The tasting started off with three mini tostadas that were unlike any tostada I’d tasted before. There was a tuna tostada with avocado puree, the De Pata Tostada with pickled pork terrine and the fish ceviche tostada with fresh chile powder. All the flavors were fresh and paired together in a way that I would have never thought of – but it worked magic on my tastebuds.
But wait … let’s not forget about the cocktails! I started the evening with the Crafty Paloma and my friend had the Bring the Heat, which is their take on a spicy margarita. I’m a wimp when it comes to spice but she loved her cocktail so much that she convinced me to try it and I kind of wanted to steal it.
Next on the tasting menu came the Coast Chile which I was a little nervous about because of the aforementioned aversion to spicy stuff. But I’m not afraid to admit it – I inhaled this dish. The hatch chile was perfectly cooked and stuffed with lump crab and then topped with baby tomato chips and jalapeño dressing. So, so good!
The second and third tasting was the Osso Bucco and the Veracruz Branzino. The sauces on these two dishes were incredible. The Osso Bucco was packed with so much juice and flavor.. I could’ve eaten four tacos full. The Veracruz Branzino was served with a plantain sauce which I was skeptical about – but was the perfect companion for the fish. I would have probably dipped tortilla chips in that plantain sauce if the table wouldn’t have judged me for it.
Obviously I had to have a cocktail break (or two) with all this food! I tried the Ranch Water which was tequila, lime, Topo Chico and served in the Topo Chico bottle (love that). It was super refreshing and if you’re still sticking to your healthy New Year resolutions—it won’t ruin your diet.
And after that, I just HAD to try their take on the Frosé and it did not disappoint! This cocktail will definitely be added to my rotation of warm-weather patio drinks when the time comes. And how amazing does the fresh mint look?
Believe it or not, I still had room for more of Chef Meza’s delicious food and it was a good thing because the carne asada was perfectly cooked and worth every bite. It came with a molcajete sauce that was a bit too spicy for my taste but everyone else loved!
One of the highlights of the whole evening for me was the dessert.. but that’s really no surprise. The light and airy ‘Carlota de lemon’ has a cool story. The Chef explained that this dish is very common in Mexico and is essentially a Mexican ice box cake. It’s something many families would throw together because they had all the ingredients on hand and leave in the freezer for it to come together. It was light, sweet and I 100% wanted seconds.
The morale of the story is don’t be like me. Don’t wait to check out Jalisco Norte and don’t for a second think that it’s your average tex-mex spot. And don’t forget to save room for dessert! All the dishes that Chef Meza has put together with his contemporary approach are something you must try.
3858 Oak Lawn Ave #470 (Oak Lawn)