Many Mexican restaurants in Fort Worth have long offered American-food alternatives, for those who decided, for whatever reason, they feel like chicken-fried steak instead of tacos. Likewise, a handful of local American restaurants have always offered Tex-Mex dishes — Paris Coffee Shop and Dixie House Cafe among them.
For the two types of cuisines to share equal space on a menu, however, is somewhat of a rarity, at least in the north Fort Worth suburb of Keller, where newly opened Roy’s Mexican & American Cuisine has seemingly come up with a novel dining concept.
Run by Roy Villarreal, who for two decades worked at Dixie House Cafe, the restaurant takes over the space occupied by El Paseo, a local Tex-Mex chain (the other locations are safe and sound).
You’ll barely notice any on-the-surface differences, as little has changed within the airy, circular dining room, where tall ceilings, festive color schemes and piped-in Mexican music come together to form an attractive and upbeat atmosphere; several El Paseo employees remain, too.
The menu, however, is now evenly divided between Tex-Mex and American dishes, about a dozen each. Think of it as a greatest-hits collection of both cuisines: burgers, pork chops and pot roast on the American side, fajitas, enchiladas, tacos on the Tex-Mex side. Fans of the restaurant’s former occupant, a server told us, can also order their favorite El Paseo dish, and the kitchen will oblige.
Another reason El Paseo fans can breathe a sigh of relief: The restaurant’s paprika-dusted corn chips live on here, chaperoned by terrific hot sauce, a chunky, intermittently spicy salsa made with onions, tomatoes and jalapeños.
A fine accompaniment to the chips and dip was an order of guacamole ($3), whose rich and fresh flavor was fairly standard but likable anyway.
The beef La Mexicana Plate ($14.50), another holdover from El Paseo, was also in strong form. Bite-size portions of sirloin steak came immersed under a bed of melted Monterey Jack cheese, tomatoes, sauteed onions and sliced jalapeños.
Meant to be scooped into flour tortillas, it was better when dipped into the creamy, old-school refried beans, then dragged through the traditional Mexican rice; the factory-made tortillas were boring anyway.
From the American side of the menu came chicken-fried steak ($12.49), a large portion that engulfed most of the plate, dwarfing the poor little plop of mashed potatoes and small ramekin of rich mac and cheese.
With fork-tender meat and an herb-flecked crust that sheathed it, this CFS was an excellent specimen. Peppery cream gravy, poured on top, was less of a pool and more of a tidal wave. Good advice for those who don’t like soggy crust: Tell them to put the gravy on the side.
The biggest surprise may have been the bacon cheeseburger ($9.99). Correction: The biggest surprise was when the bacon cheeseburger arrived cooked a perfect medium, not only a sign of a cook with a good wrist but evidence of the care American food is given here.
This was a great burger, from the nicely cooked and seasoned patty to the crunchy, fresh lettuce, tomato and onions. The white buns were toasted enough to keep the insides from tumbling out, and a lick of mayo was a welcome reprieve from the usual mustard. I wouldn’t ask the limp, skin-on fries out on a second date, though.
Coming soon, a server promised, will be a full menu of housemade desserts — cakes and pies included. For now, housemade flan ($4.99) is your best option. Silky and rich and bathed in a caramel sauce, it tasted freshly made.
That was the thread that tied these dishes together: No matter the side of the menu, it was all of simple but good quality. Roy is onto something here.
Roy’s Mexican & American Cuisine
1110 Keller Parkway
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bar open until midnight Thursday-Saturday.