The Latin Tongue: Dominguez Family Restaurant

Our next Latin eating adventure would take us to the Dominguez Family Restaurant. Following the last review of Manana, this would be a perfect opportunity to point out the difficulty in comparing "Mexican" food as some would attempt to. We have always been very vocal about the idea of us having any expertise on what is "authentic" as being presumptuous and simply false. (read more about this in our intro article here.) I say this because the Dominguez restaurant is truly authentic for the fact that the whole family hails from Cuernevaca, just south of Mexico City. Imagine if we were to walk in and tried to pretend like we know more about Mexican food than they do. With this in mind, know that at the Dominguez family restaurant, they have all of the familiar items you might expect to see on a "Mexican" menu but they have a decidedly different take than much of what you might find from other regions of Mexico or even, among different families. How are we to know what is more authentic, more right, more real. Forget it, let's just stick with what is tasty and perhaps we can all get along.


Most might recognize some of the uniqueness right away. The place loves to "smother" things in sauces, from the rellenos and enchiladas to the tamales. Does this mean that we would rake them over the coals for putting sauce on a tamale or drowing our rellenos. Not in the least. Quite the opposite, as it is part of everyone's unique perspective that has allowed us to continue this project for so long. Part of enjoying food is: 1) going in without expectations and 2) being open to whatever take the creators of the menu have as long as it is tasty. 3) being grateful that these folks are even willing to work their tails off to share their food with us.


Having made the above comments, it is time to talk food. As per our methods, we always ask one of the workers or the owner for their favorites. In this case, our server highly recommended the enchiladas, fajitas and fish tacos. We went ahead and ordered the fish tacos as well as one shrimp taco and a tamal, of course. We also took her advice on the enchiladas and ordered the enchilada plate featuring all three of their primary sauces and then tacked on an extra mole enchilada as well. We thought we were doing fine, until we noticed that you could order rellenos individually...for $3. We had to try them and upon closing the menu, our eyes fell upon something called a "puffy taco." Oh why not.


While we were waiting for the food, we could not help but comment on the atmosphere, something that we try to keep out of this conversation about food...but doggone it, the place was nice inside. Really nice due to "adobe" style wall texturing, murals and some nice plants in the window sills. I suppose that we could also mention the homemade chips, deep fried style. Sometimes these really crunchy and greasy chips just hit the spot!


The food came out and we started in on the rellenos. Chile rellenos are usually best when hot and we were curious about these. To date, we have had nothing like them and are not afraid of the new. I must admit that we really loved these rellenos. Often, with this dish, it is about the chile, the breading or even the filling, but at the Dominguez family restaurant, it is about the sauce. Due to the fact that there is so much sauce, the batter and chile seem to play a supporting role. The rancheras (red) sauce was very tasty and my favorite. It just seemed so fresh and homemade, more tomato than chile. It was slightly spicy and had an almost toasty flavor. The verde was also good, very smooth, sour and just slightly spicy if at all. As for the filling, we went with cheese. I would highly recommend avoiding the meat fillings in rellenos as they seem to take over and can often add unnecessary grease, especially the ground beef.


Next, we inspected our tamale. We had the same topping options as for the other dishes: rancheras, verde or cheese. For some reason we chose the cheese, I suppose because we wanted to try a little of everything. It was fairly typical "con queso" sauce, made with processed american style melty cheese, which, although extremely tasty, just doesn't do it for me anymore. When I was 8 or 9, yes, but now it just seems sort of wrong. The tamal underneath, though, was all right, possibly even great. Once you got past the topping, this was a very good tamal, the kind that stays together, has an excellent "corny" flavor and just the right amount of tasty filling. They are like the homemade ones I have had the pleasure of stumbling upon traveling down south. I would get one again, but skip the topping, no matter which kinds they offer. 


Fish tacosFish tacosAhhhh, the tacos. They have many styles here, whether American or Mexican, wheat flour or corn tortillas they aim to please all. The limitations may come in the meat options, no tripe, barbacoa, chivo, pastor, or the like. You get the basics of beef, ground or steak, and chicken, shredded or grilled plus the bonus fish or shrimp options. The fish and shrimp tacos we ordered had flour tortillas and were marinated in a super aromatic chipotle sauce. The smell was captivating. As for the flavor, they were rich, fishy and spicy. These were not the basic fried fish sort of fish taco, but instead, a pounded or chopped fish that was given a good grill treatment. I thought they were great, and like a nice and tasty fish taco, I wanted a beer. The shrimp tacos were also good, but perhaps with not as much flavor as the fish tacos. If you want a milder flavored but still delicious taco, go for the shrimp.


The enchiladas ordered were: rancheras with beef, one cheese and one verde filled with shredded chicken and one with mole sauce and grilled chicken. The mole enchilada we ordered on the side was wrapped in a corn tortilla, the rest were wheat flour. Overall, the enchiladas were quite good. The rancheras, verde and queso sauces were as described above. Again, I would skip the cheese sauce and the ground beef. The chicken in both cases was great, especially the grilled chicken. It was how I remember good roadside grilled chicken down south. Plus, when you add a really well done mole sauce, this enchilada stole the spotlight. This mole was the dark, rich and sweet kind that gives mole such a good name. I thought that it was not too raisin-y, had a really nice anise and clove flavor with plenty of deep, chocolatey goodness. 


Puffy?Puffy?Finally, there sat the puffy taco. With that name, you really don't know what to expect. I sort of thought that it would be some deep fried thick puffy tostada like thing. Instead, it was a cute little taco bowl filled with meat, cheese, lettuce and onion. The real treat was that we got to try the asada, and again, it showed the excellence of a good grill. It was a simple, very tender and peppery steak that did not seem to be the least bit greasy. I see the puffy tacos being a great treat for kids as they are really fun, and heck, I enjoyed it too.


In the end, we always try to leave you with our recommendations. In other words, what would we order upon returning. It goes without saying that we would definitely have the rellenos and fish tacos again. The mole too was excellent, but the question is, do you order the mole enchiladas or get the grilled chicken smothered in mole sauce. The cashier told us to be sure and try a torta next time, which with grilled chicken or steak would probably be great. I will definitely return for a tamal minus the sauce and think that I would like to try the fajitas. They offer a fajita dish served as tostadas that sounds great...and hopefully I will save some room for a little fried ice cream! Enjoy and thank you family Dominguez.


Here are the details:

Dominguez family restaurant (website)

3313 E 50th St




Hours: Sun-thurs 11-9, Fri and Sat 11-10


Lunch specials include combos, burritos and fajitas for $6-8

Enchiladas $9, Mole $11

Tacos $2

Fish/shrimp tacos $4

Tamal $2

Chile rellenos $3 each

Puffy taco $2

Fajita tostadas $8.5

Tortas $7

Gulf style tilapia with monterrey jack cheese $13.5

Deep fried ice cream $3.5

Surprise: Coziness, homemade quality of the food, location: just blocks away from Lake Nokomis

Payment: Cash or credit

Language: Very clear menu and staff.


Lawrence Black is a writer and editor at Simple, Good and Tasty.  He can be reached at Look for him at your local Latin eatery. He is usually found looking overwhelmed and sweating.