Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill

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Ahh Thanksgiving Eve.  A great time prime the belly for more food.  The Carnivore and I decided to venture out after nearly a week of captivity from my knee surgery (he was an excellent caretaker!).  The cabin fever, however, was setting in and we needed to see something other than the tv.  And so we did!  This evening, due to the threat of traffic, we stayed nearby and visited Z’Tejas.img_0166

Both of us have visited Z’Tejas before and different locations as well.  We went to the Avery Ranch location.  Having been there before and eaten well, I figured this visit would be no different.  We arrived and were seated immediately (my slow walk was the only hold up).  Our server arrived shortly after to collect our drink orders and since Larry was a bit famished, we ordered the Tejas Trio which had something for both of us – guacamole and salsa for me and melty queso for him – all with chips of course.  In the meantime, as I perused the menu, searching for the items I had last eaten there albeit years ago, I discovered they no longer had the vegetarian tacos.  I do appreciate that they indicated vegetarian on the menu but with these gone, I was worried I would not have options.

When our server returned we shared these concerns and she immediately took them back to the chef to see what they could do for a vegan.  I waited anxiously as I feared the answer would be the dreaded “salad”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good salad.  I just want more than a salad as a meal.  To me, a salad is a side!  She returned and informed me that the Wild Mushroom Enchiladas could be modified to be vegan.  I coached her on what to write on her order pad as she seemed nervous – no cheese, no cream sauce, no sour cream and sub green chile sauce.  It seemed like all would work out in the end.

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The food arrived and looked picture perfect.  Then I noticed a little piece of what looked like cheese on the edge of the plate.  No matter, I said to my dining partner, probably just fell on.  Alas, no.  I cut into the first enchilada to uncover more cheese.  I tore the rest open to find it full of cheese.  Sadly I showed the server who immediately took it away, apologizing and promising me she wrote no cheese.  I assured her that I knew that and only about five minutes later the manager arrived with my correct meal.

In the end the food was delicious.  The green chile sauce added a nice heat and flavor to the earthy mushroom and creamy avocado mixture.  Another fun and unusual element was the introduction of a mango relish which added some bite and sweetness.  I also got my protein with the black beans so no need to worry about that.

Overall though I have to give Z’Tejas two rutabagas.  While the end result was lovely I had already eaten too many chips by the time the food came correctly.  And that said the guacamole was fairly void of flavor.  Z’Tejas would score more points if they would have kept the vegetarian taco option or had more options in general for vegans.  Perhaps they could consider it for the next menu update with a new vegan icon!

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To my vegan friend’s delight, man cannot live on meat and bourbon alone.  As it is necessary to consume the other food groups on occasion, I tend to choose the tastiest versions possible.  When it comes to dairy, the form I most often indulge in is cheese.   When we chose to critique Z Tejas Southwestern Grill on Thanksgiving Eve, I was excited to partake in the glorious creation that is queso!   Z Tejas does it right – quality melted cheese seasoned with a smoky chipotle salsa.  Couple the heavenly cheese with a salted, warm tortilla chip and you have an appetizer that I could easily make into a gluttonous meal.  Alas, I opted not to gorge myself, and merely enjoyed it as a precursor to a meal that I hoped would be remarkable.

I chose the street tacos because I have had them in the past and have found them to be flavorfully seasoned and just the right amount of food.  Not so much that I leave feeling as though I need to unbutton the top button of my jeans, but not so meager that I am forced to order an unnecessary dessert.  I am disappointed to say that this most recent meal left a lot to be desired.  The issue was that the meat on the tacos was devoid of any flavor whatsoever. I truly could not taste anything.  Even the tiny corn tortillas that surrounded the beef sirloin, cucumbers, avocado, Cotija cheese and salsa verde were all but flavorless.  I don’t know if there has been a change in the preparation or ingredients since I last enjoyed the tacos but I was surely disappointed in this most recent offering.

With regard to vegans and carnivores eating in harmony, this outing truly was a mixed bag.  The chef was willing to tailor a meal to fit the vegan among us, but the options were limited to say the least.  In fact, I think there was only one option that was offered.  Kellie will obviously review that portion of the meal so I won’t comment further.  I do feel that it is worth noting that, when the first attempt of a vegan dish came out with cheese on it, the server, Natasha, very graciously took it back to the kitchen for remaking.  She did this without any degree of difficulty, and that was much appreciated.  I noted that the second time the dish reached our table, it was delivered by an apologetic manager.  I found this to be a nice gesture and one that really did go a long way.

Overall, I give this experience two cow faces.  Will I go back?  Most likely, yes.  Perhaps during happy hour for a quality margarita and a hearty helping of chips and queso.  MMMMM QUESO!

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