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Enchiladas at Los Dos Amigos

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With all the Tex-Mex talk surrounding El Real in recent weeks, I got to thinking of some of my old-guard Houston favorites. It's easy to fixate on the shiny new toy down the street, but many Houston establishments have been quietly but steadily churning out fantastic examples of the genre for decades.

Quite possibly my all-time favorite is Los Dos Amigos. This charming little hole in the wall has been a favorite for years, and one of my usual "welcome to Houston" spots for visiting dignitaries. When my older brother was visiting from New York, his first visit in years, I took him to Los Dos for breakfast one morning. He went back twice in the next week. It's that good.

Last time I was there, I opted for three enchiladas topped with a fried egg. Contrary to Robb Walsh's recommendation, I usually opt for chicken enchiladas in lieu of cheese. The chicken is always juicy and tender, with a nice roasted flavor that manages to be robust yet light enough to help avoid the over-saturation I sometimes feel when getting this dish with cheese enchiladas. This time, I got one each of cheese, chicken, and ground beef, just to shake things up. The chicken was as good as always, the cheese just a bit heavy (in a good way). The beef was ignorable.

The beans at Los Dos, commonly held as a Tex-Mex litmus test, are satiny-smooth and bear that unmistakable sheen and flavor of heavy larding. If you ask, you can also get a side of Los Dos's fabulous flour tortillas, for dredging through the beans and the ruptured egg yolk.

One of the other charms of Los Dos is its very lack of overt popularity. I've never had to wait for a table there, or shout to be heard by my dining companions. It's a wonderful place to relax over a meal, and the waitresses always encourage my kids' meager Spanish skills, encouraging them when they get something right, and cheerfully glossing over it when they don't. In short, it's pretty much exactly the kind of place I want to go to when I want Tex-Mex. Unless, of course, I really need a drink. Los Dos is bone dry.

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