Mena’s Tex Mex Grill.
Gradually, the classic kitsch of Tex-Mex decor is disappearing. The animated beer company clocks showing the country of 1,100 springs in ever-flowing motion, the landscapes of bluebonnets, and the black velvet paintings have given way to the cheerfully garish colors and authentically playful/creepy folk art of Mexico. Welcome to Mena’s in Carrollton. (Mario Leal’s Chiquita started prettifying Tex-Mex back in the ’70s. His restaurants, with their paper flowers and pink tablecloths, were a step up in style, as was his menu, which, by the way, still exists at Real Maya in Richardson, where you can be served Leal’s tacos al carbon by some of his original servers.)
Mena’s Tex Mex Grill is in a typical northern strip mall location, with a patio tucked between the restaurant and a six-lane street. But strategic plantings cut down on the street noise and fumes, so dining alfresco is a pleasant option for a change. Thin chips and two kinds of salsa (spicy Verde !) set you up nicely for a classic combination: tortillas softened in chili-seasoned oil and real Velveeta on the soft cheese taco. Mena’s menu boasts that the restaurant has served the same recipes for 25 years.