Z'Tejas is bringing out their Spring menu, and I was more than happy to sample the dishes. My parents have lived in Texas for 16 years already, and it's sad to say that they aren't really acquainted with Tex-Mex or Southwestern cuisine. My parents have sharp tongues so I can't wait them to try Z'Tejas. I find the dishes pretty fail-proof especially to the palates of beginners to Southwestern food.
I just had Pappadeaux's crab and spinach dip the day before the tasting, so I wasn't very enthusiastic about having crab and spinach dip for my very next meal. However, I found that Z'Tejas's crab and spinach dip is much more generous with the lump crab, and they're not afraid to show the amount of it piled on the dip. The dip itself also has a zing to it (probably the spices and bacon) that makes the dip addictive. The fry bread actually goes really well with the dip!
Chips and Fry Bread
Crab Spinach Skillet with red and green peppers and toasted bacon gratin
Next, came the flat iron steak, which the general manager said was the most tender part of beef second to the tenderloin. I'm not sure if the steak should be paired with the nopalitos salad as the steak cooled quickly on the salad. I prefer good steak to be whole rather than sliced into thin strips and warm instead of cold.
Iron Steak Nopalitos Salad with red tomatoes, cilantro, roasted peppers, onions, cotija cheese, and jicama in shallot vinaigrette
My family has an aversion to chicken breast. Mom and dad compare chicken breast to wood. I read a Melissa Clark article in the New York Times about finding ways of cooking chicken breast without drying out the meat and how almost every chef prefaced their remedies with "I hate chicken breast" or "Why would you want to eat chicken breast?" I don 't quite dislike chicken breast as much as my parents, but I don't adore it because it's rarely prepared well. When I saw the the tequila chicken pasta on the menu, I thought that it would rank at the bottom of the Spring menu, but it turned out to be quite delicious. The chicken wasn't too dry, and it worked well with the lightly creamy pasta.
1800 Silver Tequila Chicken on angel hair pasta with tomato sauce, roasted poblano peppers, onions, corn, and cotija cheese
The seared scallop with cantelope salad is the highlight of the Spring menu. The sweetness of the scallops is enhanced by the refreshing cantelope, corn and avocado salad. The scallops aren't very well browned on the top and bottom. That could really bring this dish up a notch. I noted how fresh the scallops tasted and learned that Z'Tejas flies in fresh seafood. I also learned that everything is made from scratch except ketchup and mayo, which the general manager says sets Z'Tejas apart from other chains. I wonder if they make their own tortillas. My friend, Greg, is big on made-from-scratch tortillas.
Seared Scallops with basil pesto, roasted corn polenta, sweet cantelope, corn and avocado salad
The pan seared tilapia was well-seared, but it could use more spice or flavor. It was a bit on the bland side. But the fish was very fresh.
Pan Seared Tilapia with grilled shrimp, spinach, zucchini and chipotle sauce
I wasn't sure if I would like the Navajo taco because it looked like just a bunch of stuff piled onto a plate, but this was a surprising hit. The fried spinach was fun to eat and the chicken was sweet and flavorful. The ingredients came together well.
Z' Classic Navajo Taco with mole verde chicken on a Navajo fry bread with crunch fried spinach, green chile rice, black beans, roasted peppers, salsa fresca, chipotle and sour cream
To my fellow graduate students, I propose that we hit their happy hour soon! I can't wait to try the catfish beignets and I'm curious about the cast-iron skillet dumplings!