The "Secret" Menu at Los Tios

Los Tios' No. 14 combination plate: not on the menu.
Los Tios' No. 14 combination plate: not on the menu.
Photo by Joanna O'Leary.

A funny thing happened when I was preparing to visit Los Tios to conduct research on their skinny margarita.

Since I have nothing to do all day but peruse menus online, I spent [too] much of one morning scanning the food options at Los Tios in the hopes of preventing order paralysis (an affliction I frequently suffer from at restaurants). I had heard much about their "world-famous" combination plates and was deep in thought as to the merits of the No. 7 (beef taco, puffy queso, chalupa) versus the No. 5 (two beef tacos and a puffy queso).

"I know what will resolve this issue," I thought to myself. "Some good porn."

Food porn, that is, and specifically in the form of photos on Los Tios' facebook page. In the process, however, of perusing for shots of the No. 5 and No. 7 platters, I ran into something far more enticing:

A combination plate made up of a cheese enchilada, a taco al carbon, chicken quesadillas and pico de gallo.

Labeled "Off The Menu Special Combination Plate No. 14," this item, as it turns out, is the Tex-Mex equivalent of Harry Potter's Platform 9 3/4. It's ready and available, but only those in the know can access it. Here's why and how.

The combination plates on the current official Los Tios menu ostensibly go up to No. 8, though years ago there were as many as 14. The regulars rebelled against the truncated menu and continued to order these off-the-menu combination plates, and Los Tios -- in humble deference to its patrons -- continued to serve them. But only if you asked.

Today, the most popular "secret," request-only combination plates are the No. 14 and the No. 12 (nachos, puffy queso, cheese enchilada and Mexican rice). Clandestine cooking must taste better because I enjoyed the No. 14 so much that I plan to order the No. 12 next time.

One last note: My efforts at uncovering the components of the No. 13 plate have thus far been unsuccessful. Longtime fans are so far keeping mum, but never fear; I'll find my Deep Throat.

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