Dallas-Fort Worth usually doesn’t like Houston Tex-Mex, and vice versa.
But Lupe Tortilla is proving a powerful exception.
From Ninfa’s to Mi Cocina, DFW or Houston chains have expanded from one market to the other and gone slouching back home in defeat.
Gloria’s is trying. But the only established exception is Pappasito’s, part of a larger family-owned company with an impressive record.
Lupe Tortilla is not Pappasito’s or its derivative cousin, Uncle Julio’s.
And that’s why Lupe Tortilla will be a big success.
The first DFW location is open in Las Colinas. It’s scheduled to come to the Alliance neighborhood of north Fort Worth next year.
Lupe Tortilla serves up the usual fajitas-and-margaritas standards. That 1990s concept is still hanging on.
But Lupe also adds better options such as filet mignon, jalapeno sausage, lobster tail or crab-stuffed shrimp ($19.95 for chicken fajitas, up to $33.95 for filet)
Lupe also serves much more than fajitas.
Houston diners swear by the three-pepper-cheese steak with Jack cheese, jalapeno, serrano and habanero ($24.95-$31.95).
The namesake tortillas are fresh and housemade: 10-inch floury wonders that rank among the area’s best, and thick corn tortillas.
Unlike at some other restaurants, the combination plates are more than a sloppy afterthought.
A pick-four combination plate ($15.95) was easily big enough for two to share.
It featured a large Hatch green chile chicken enchilada that helped kick off Hatch season.
The spicy red cheese enchilada and beef tamal came with ancho chile con carne. A puffy beef taco tasted more like something made on Indian fry bread than on a puffy tortilla. but still was a good side item.
The thin chips will be familiar from other Houston-based restaurants.
But instead of smoky chipotle, Lupe has a serrano salsa and also a bottled spicy chipotle sauce. There’s also a charro bean soup/dip with cilantro, onion and jalapeno.
Naturally, there are tacos al carbon ($16.95 chicken, $20.95 beef), more popular in Houston then DFW. They’re notable as a cheaper alternative to fajitas.
The best deal of all is at weekday lunch. It’s served until 4 p.m., with prices starting at $9.95 and an $11.95 combination plate (no splitting plates at lunch).
Lupe Tortilla also opens at 8 a.m. daily for breakfast, serving basic huevos or chilaquiles platters but also items such as egg-and-BLT tacos, avocado-and-egg tacos, omelets or eggs Benedict on pupusas with salmon, spinach or carnitas.