But happily, for those with no interest in the buffet, the menu of traditional, down-home Mexican dishes remains available. And as always, the good, plain food is cheap at twice the price. Where else are you going to spend only $2.50 for a plate of huevos con papas made from fresh eggs and served piping hot with the cubes of boiled potato crisped just right? This omelet-like dish is accompanied by home-style refried beans, fried potatoes and substantial, perfectly blistered flour tortillas -- to say nothing of a garnish of chorizo. The menu also includes any number of "plates" such as the chicken, beef or "meat" fajitas, and a wonderful chunk of diabetes-inducing tres leches dessert -- which is the genuine article. Coarse, yellow Mexican cake is immersed in half-and-half and sweet, condensed milk, then topped with a thick layer of whipped cream. Well, okay, "whipped topping" so white that it's blue and which doubtless owes more to a can than a cow. But if you order something like this in a place like Don Tako, you're not looking for a gourmet experience. You're looking for great goo, and the tres leches is certainly that.
The restaurant's decor remains as cheerfully chaotic as ever, with pinatas and kitschy pottery, serape curtains and plastic tablecloths the colors of watermelon rinds and overripe tangerines. And in a town that virtually rolls up the sidewalks at 10 p.m., Don Tako's hours remain as useful as ever -- Sunday through Thursday 7 a.m. till midnight; Friday and Saturday, 7 until 3 a.m. Steam table or no, I'm going back, and soon.
-- Joanne Harrison
Don Tako, 8334 Gulf Freeway, 641-4114.