If you expand the above picture of a four-block area of north Fort Worth in the vicinity of the 2300 block of Main St, you’ll notice come rectangles. Red includes the restaurant known to one and all as Joe T. Garcia’s. The yellow blocks include the parking areas owned by Joe T.’s. Note that the restaurant takes up half a city block. Note the swimming pool toward the center of the patio area, and the enormous “Fiesta Gardens” on the left (north) side of the restaurant. I’ve seen this place over capacity on a Friday night, with a line some 50 deep to get in.
Last night, my wife Chris and I chose patio dining at Joe T’s, about 4 feet to the south of the pool. According to NOAA weather, Meacham Field in Ft. Worth registered 54 degrees as we sat down, and about 52 degrees as we got up. While the nip in the air whetted the appetites, medium-sized chivas fed with cedar blocks were spread about the patio, and kept the temperatures pleasant.
Joe T’s only accepts cash. No plastic, and only occasionally will they accept checks.
Joe T’s does not pass out menus for supper. There is no menu, because you have exactly two choices at supper, both of which are versions of The Dinner. You may order The Dinner with enchiladas (cheese only) or with fajitas (beef or chicken). The fajitas were added by popular demand during the 1980’s, I believe, but trust me—go with the original Dinner of enchiladas, served since the restaurant opened in the Garcia household in 1935. All meals are served family style and in courses. Of course there’s a huge basket of homemade tortilla chips and fresh salsa as you sit down, but within a couple of minutes of your drink order comes the first course of the Dinner: the tostadas. Simple affairs, really: a platter with two large tostada chips per diner, sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese and green chiles, and broiled until the edges start to brown. As you’re eating those, the platters continue to come out: the Spanish rice, the fresh guacamole, the pair of spiced pork tacos with lots of lettuce, the homemade corn tortillas (don’t make the mistake of choosing flour) and.. oh. The beans. Oh my, the refried beans. Is it crack cocaine they put in them? No—just spices and lots of lard. So. Very. Good. Finally the waiter brings out your large dinner plates and a pan with your enchiladas, and serves them on your plate before you. At 6’5”, 260+, I can usually finish my share. Usually.
The food is excellent, because that’s what they’ve made for better than 70 years. The food is served fast, because that’s all they’re making, tonight. The service is excellent, because the servers know the drill, and know how to make the customers happy.
I like restaurants with no menus.
Oh, you can get a steak or baked potato or even fish at IHOP, ordering off of their 8 page menu. You can get a remarkable variety off of a Bennigan’s 12-page menu. Is it good? Maybe sometimes, by accident.
But as I was telling LawDog and BigCasino over lunch one day at Joe T’s—I dig the simple expectation of quality.