TODAY’S LUNCH REPORT

You know sometimes when you walk into a strange restaurant and get the feeling you should turn around and walk right back out? Started to do that at Margarita’s (Fitzhugh near Capitol) today after swatting away a few flies, but glad I toughed it out.

Actually the flies were just a summertime hazard because the door was open so much. As soon as I sat at my formica top table I realized I wasn’t in Dallas, but Laredo, Brownsville, or northern Mexico. The very friendly waitress told me the special was barbacoa, which isn’t barbecue but something I generally associate with elements of the head of a cow and although many swear by it, I don’t.

So I went for the house speciality, guiso de res, or beef stew, with rice and beans and homemade corn tortillas, $6.95. It was excellent, and the caldo de res on another table looked pretty good, too, chock full of potatoes and corn on the cob.

I heard maybe 10 words of English. The table to my right was filled with sun-baked workers on lunch break, and to my left a quartet of women aged 20 to 70. Also a couple of families and a couple of construction foremen.

It’s one of the great things about a big city, and this one these days. You can step out of wherever you are into another world, for the price of lunch. Margarita’s isn’t for everyone, but if you’re in the mood for a mexico puro fix, it works out fine.

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