Saturday, June 21, 2008

FOOD CZAR REVIEW #27: MANNYS TEX-MEX GRILL

I'm alone! On my own!! Batchin' it, as they say. My lovely wife the Rock Star is attending a convention in Kansas City, enjoying her first taste of genuine KC barbecue, so I'm having to make do for myself for an entire week. Mostly, it's just been more of the same: Working hard, eating cheap, and enjoying the occasional treat. Last night, I said, "Enough's enough!" I had a hankerin' for some honest to goodness, good Old School Tex-Mex. Luckily, I knew what to do about it. I've heard for a long time about this wonderful place located in Greater Downtown Frisco that I felt sure would meet my needs (a great expression, even more appropriate for a bakery. Think about it!). So, with only myself as company, I grabbed a magazine (I'm a compulsive reader, even when I'm not in the bathroom), and pointed El Automovil north, destination Manny's Tex-Mex Grill.

ATMOSPHERE

Mannys boasts an Old-School atmosphere along with it's Old-School food. A rambling, ramshackle house located down on Main Street (as Bob Seger would have it), just down the block
from Randys, probably the most underrated steakhouse in the Metroplex. Smallish parking lot (be prepared to park on the nearby street). Outdoor patio, with main and add-on dining rooms. Eclectic decor to say the least. In short, a very homey joint. I was seated promptly in the add-on section, and awaited Brenda, my lovely waitress.

FOOD

I hate it when I read uninformed critics talking about Basic or Standard Tex-Mex. The true aficionado knows there's no such animal and can probably detect the difference in a blind taste test. Here are some of the differences. Corporate Mex can be found in such establishments as Mi Cocina or Cantina Laredo and is more upscale and can feature some exotic ingredients. Cal/Ariz/New Mex features more fresh, green chilis and the rellenos are often made with ancho rather than poblano peppers. Interior or Mexican Mex boasts grilled meats and more seafood offerings. Finally, Classic Tex-Mex features tons of cheese, and one of the truly great inventions of the genre: chili gravy, which is poured over cheese and sometimes beef enchiladas and tamales. Great chili gravy is a dying art, and I greatly lament its passing. For the record, Mannys falls into the Classic Tex-Mex category. I began my repast with a cup of chili con queso and Mannys excellent, spicy chips and salsa. The queso was rather bland; luckily the salsa wasn't and I added some to the cheesy dip to make it more palatable. Every Classic joint worth its salsa has at least one combo platter featuring the classics plus rice and beans. When I'm visiting such a place, I love to start with this kind of platter so I can get a good read on the place, so to speak. Mannys Platter did not disappoint. Served on cold (crispy beef taco, guacamole tostada), and hot plates (cheese enchilada, soft cheese taco, and tamale), the platter delivered all I wanted and then some. The beef taco was tasty, as was the guacamole tostada (I consider the term "guac" to be exceedingly corporate and pretentious), although the tostada could have used more of the green stuff. Likewise, the chili gravy perched atop the cheese enchilada was quite good, but was barely enough to fill a thimble. More, please! The serving of cheese, however, was quite plentiful and helped make for one tasty meal, well paired with Dos Equis Lager. No dessert, and plenty left over for tomorrow's lunch.

SERVICE & WEBSITE

Brenda did a great job, even though she probably had too many tables (around half-a-dozen, at last count). Website is http://www.eatatmannys.com/.

OVERALL

For great classic, old-school Tex-Mex at reasonable prices, neighborhood hangout Mannys is a great choice. Hang there yourself soon, and remember:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR MEDIOCRE FOOD!!!

3 comments:

Margie said...

Chili gravy... yum. That's really the best. You had exactl what I would have had for a first visit. Too bad about the bland queso. I love a good queso dip. It's funny how much they vary. This place isn't associated with Manny's in Dallas, is it?

Donna said...

At first, I was like "whoa, Manny's opened a restaurant in Frisco and I missed this?"

I don't believe this location is associated with the Manny's in Dallas (as in the Manny's associated with the famed Mia's?)

Food Czar said...

Not directly. It seems to have been started by members of the same family as Mias, Mi Cocina and Mannys Uptown, but the only location directly related to this one is in Little Elm. Apparently, there was a review in the Morning News a couple of years ago that explained it all, but I haven't been able to find it.