El Bolero may be the best-kept secret in town.
That is, if anything on Crockett Row can be considered a secret.
The snapper Veracruz, salmon poblano and chile relleno are some of the best seen on a local plate.
The lobster fajitas (half-price at lunch Fridays) and grilled shrimp platters or tacos are far better than most.
Yet Fort Worth folks keep drifting into El Bolero, looking for a Tex-Mex combination plate and missing Bolero’s best.
“Our flavors are more like old Mexico, but a lot of people want to stay with what’s familiar,” company executive Blake Swisher said on a recent visit.
The same can be said for Mesero or to a lesser extent Meso Maya: Fort Worth folks are missing a lot of good entrees on their way to the enchilada dinner.
“Our fish is really good,” Swisher said. He also bragged on the calamari.
If you really want a traditional dinner, the chicken enchiladas in green sauce or mole sauce fit that order. They come with a side of garlic rice or excellent charro beans.
El Bolero also shines with standout housemade tiny corn tortillas, chips and salsas. (Ask for the hotter salsas.)
The same tortillas are used for street tacos and, on the weekend, for one of the most precisely assembled breakfast tacos around.
El Bolero’s brunch menu also includes items such as a flavorful chilaquiles platter, or churros French toast.
It’s an unusual restaurant with colorful Mexico-style decor (including a shoeshine stand, where a “bolero” works polishing boots).
It also has unusual cocktails like the “Oilman,” a midnight-dark margarita made with tequila, agave and Cointreau Noir, all with activated charcoal.
El Bolero followed an unusual path to Crockett Row. One of the first chefs, no longer with the company, helped launch the Dallas restaurant after the 2014 closing of Hacienda San Miguel on Crockett Row.
So some of the concepts have made the circuit from Crockett Row to Dallas and (happily) back again.
(Yes, Crockett Row’s overbearing parking rules are ugly and have hurt has hindered business. Park free in the garage, but remember to get your ticket validated immediately. Or skip that and just park at a meter — it’s cheap — and pay using the smartphone app.)