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El Tampiqueña - a fajita by any other name

April 11, 2011 | Chad Conine | Around Town
El Tampiqueña - a fajita by any other name
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Last night, my friend Toph asked me if I cook. He reasoned if I was writing a food blog, then I could cook.

My answer: "No. Not really. But I can order like a champ."

Sometimes I'm simple and quick "I'll have a Whataburger with cheese. Mustard and Mayo. No lettuce, please."  Sometimes, like when I recently dined at my folks' country club, I can be much more sophisticated "I'd like the ribeye, but I'd like it prepared steak frites style."

Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book "Outliers" that a person needs 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field. I believe I'm getting close to that number in the ordering department. One of the layers of skill is to be able to listen to your dinner companions and learn from their orders. On a recent Sunday trip to El Charro Tapatio, one of my companions seemed well versed in Mexican culture. He ordered a dish that sounded awesome. But I could not pronounce the name of the dish. So I simply said, "I'll have what he ordered."

It was delicious. And so I went back soon afterward and ordered the same thing.

El Tampiqueña.

And then I was eating at Ruthy's in Lorena on Saturday and found El Tampiqueña again. It was delicious again.

What is El Tampiqueña? It's deconstructed fajitas served with a cheese enchilada. Now, I know what you're thinking. All fajitas require some construction. That's part of the appeal. But this is deconstructed to the degree that the skirt steak is served whole on the plate. So if you wish, you can cut it up and make your own fajita. Or you can simply enjoy it as a steak, thus eating a deconstructed fajita.

The most important thing is that you can impress your friends by ordering El Tampiqueña in your best regional dialect.

And when someone asks if you can cook, you can say "No, but I sure can order."