I hope my recent lunch at this 25-year-old Tex-Mex restaurant will not be my last. I’ve been eating at Avila’s since it opened, and I’m always comforted by the smell of freshly chopped jalapeños, onions, and cilantro that greets me at the door. I rarely stray from the chiles rellenos stuffed with cheese. The Avila family recipe calls for a poblano pepper, unencumbered by an eggy batter, to be stuffed with Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded chicken or brisket, and baked, not fried. However, I was in the mood for enchiladas and on this visit went for the Anita, a platter that consists of one soft cheese taco, one cheese enchilada, and one beef taco. The soft cheese taco was covered with a runny yellow queso that, save for the pickled jalapeños I tossed across the top, was void of flavor. Even the enchilada, lightly coated with a meaty chili sauce, was bland—well, unless you love paprika. What good is an enchilada if you don’t bite into a center filled with gooey cheese and crunchy onions? The sad corn tortilla was flat on both ends and puffed up in the center by about a teaspoon of cheddar cheese. Guacamole was a scoop of mashed avocado we dressed up with spoonfuls of salsa, salt, and lemon. The underlying lettuce was brown. The ground beef in the preformed hard taco shell left the strong aftertaste of rancid burned garlic. I spit out the second bite and looked across the table to find a smile on my friend’s face. She was plowing through a plate of chiles rellenos.
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