How does Tex-Mex food differ from Mexican food? The yellowness of the cheese is an indicator of the Tex-Mexness of your food. 

This is perhaps one of the most obvious distinctions between cuisines. Mexican food favors white cheese, to the point that Mexicans associate yellow cheese with American-style fast food. Believe it or not, nachos are not considered Mexican anywhere in Mexico.

 Another big difference is that cumin is to Tex-Mex what coriander is to Mexican food. Cumin is an essential spice in most Tex-Mex recipes. Sweet corn is a faithful indicator of everything Tex-Mex, especially in salsa and guacamole.

A few other indicators would be the use of soft wheat tortillas for everything except flautas and tacos; tortilla chips, fresh vegetables and cheese in your salad, burritos (as the Tex-Mex version is known for a variety of ingredients and flavors that include beans, rice, veggies and meat). When your main course contains ground beef and it’s not inside a chile, then it’s definitely Tex-Mex. 

Maybe one of the last indicators would be the chile — green chiles, jalapeños and chipotles are the usual suspects in Tex-Mex cuisine. These chiles are versatile ingredients, but also some of the milder examples when it comes to spiciness. Now that we are all on the same page regarding the differences of Tex-Mex and Mexican food, let me tell you all about a wonderful little Tex-Mex restaurant called Mi Durango, as seen on KTLA channel 5 Burrous’ Bites.

Upon entering the restaurant, you will notice the bright colors all over the walls, with many different pieces of art depicting the scorpion (which is native to Texas), including their logo. The colorful setting was reminiscent of watching a sunset with all the red, orange and yellow, which set the tone for a relaxing and enjoyable lunch.

While perusing the menu, I noticed they had a nice breakfast menu served from 8 a.m. until noon, while menudo and posole are available Saturdays and Sundays, only. The breakfast menu consists of huevos rancheros, omelets, steak and eggs, chilaquiles (corn tortilla pieces that are fried, cooked in salsa, sprinkled with cheese and served with eggs) cinnamon French toast or pancakes and eggs, plus breakfast burritos, potato and chorizo skillets and breakfast quesadillas

On the menu were appetizers (wings, nachos and a few other items), burritos, soup (different variety daily), salads, tortas, burgers, B.L.T. and club sandwiches, plus a very nice variety of shrimp and fish items — shrimp enchiladas, shrimp and fish tacos and shrimp cocktail, to name a few.  

And of course, no menu is complete without a variety of entrees and combination plates including tacos, enchiladas, tamales, sopes, fajitas, taquitos and chile rellenos, all served with rice and beans, starting at $7.99. A few other out-of-the-ordinary entrees are ranchera a la plancha, $12.99 (grilled marinated steak, roasted chile and onions served with rice and beans); molcajete, $16.99 for one or $27.99 for two (stone bowl with steaming chicken, steak, cactus and chorizo with onions, jalapeños and cheese); and Healthy Choice, $10.99 (grilled chicken breast, steamed mixed vegetables, rice and beans). 

The menu has something for everyone, including a senior plate (taco, cheese enchilada, rice and beans) for $7.75 and a children’s menu for kids 10 years and younger only for $5.99. The menu has a nice variety of beverages starting with wine, imported and domestic bottled beers, fountain drinks including horchata and Jamaica, natural juices, hot tea and coffee. 

There were four of us enjoying lunch and we each ordered our own entrée, except for me, who had to have two different items. I started with the spinach and mushroom omelet — after reading the description, they had me at mushrooms and it just got better. It was fluffy eggs, crisp bacon and perfectly fried hashed browns, cooked crisp, just the way I like them. I also enjoyed the senior plate with rice, beans, cheese enchilada and a ground beef taco. How was I possibly going to be able to eat all that, after all the other food I had consumed? Thank goodness for takeout. A rich and savory red sauce enveloped the enchilada and the taco was delicious — crunchy and full of goodies.

Shawny had the chile relleno — a beautiful and tasty plate with a very pleasant, rich, green, chile con queso sauce cascading over the top. To say it was fabulous would be an understatement, as the small bite that Shawny gave me was all I needed. I let it melt in my mouth while savoring that incredible flavor. Isaac had the ranchera a la plancha with a horchata to drink  and let me tell you, as soon as you cut off a bit of the tender, juicy marinated steak, and tuck in some rice, you will have constructed the ultimate burrito.

My companion had the veggie macho burrito (egg whites, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, onion potato and cilantro wrapped in a wheat tortilla). It’s a huge, soft profoundly vegetable-laden burrito finished with a spray of fresh cilantro — macho, indeed.

You can enjoy all of this and more by stopping by Mi Durango Tex-Mex Restaurant at 42212 10th St. West in Lancaster. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Friday and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

Call for more information and to ask about catering, 661-726-9855. 

Bon appétit!

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