Joe T. Garcia's has the most beautiful outdoor dining location I have ever seen. Combined with excellent service and great food, this combination makes Joe T's one of the best restaurants in Dallas/Fort Worth!
In the 76 years since Joe T. Garcia's opened, they have developed a winning formula that can't be beat. The entire restaurant, kitchen and wait staff work with the precision of a Swiss watch. It has the capacity to hold over 1,000 people, yet inexplicably, it still feels like the quaint little restaurant that once only had room for 16 people.
They have what may very well be the most beautiful gardens and landscaping in DFW. It is through their use of landscaping and many buildings with small to medium size rooms that makes for such a quaint dining experience.
I have lost count of how many times I have eaten at "Joe T's" as it is locally known. Considering that I started visiting with my parents when I was a young child, I would estimate that I have been here at least 100 times. The magic of Joe T's is that even after 100 visits I am still in awe and impressed with each new visit. I rarely have to wait and when there is a line it moves fast! This is in part to the two kitchens and over 600 employees! No, that is not a typo. I didn't mean 60, I meant 600 with two zeroes. Not only does this translate to being seated quickly, but it also means great service and food that comes out fast. More on that later.
If atmosphere were a football game, Joe T. Garcia's would be the Super Bowl Champions hands down! There simply is no other place I have ever seen that even comes close! Joe T's owns an entire city block and most of that includes their courtyard made up of beautiful patios, fountains and gardens. Through clever landscaping, the outdoor area seems to have many separate eating areas with winding sidewalks that transport you through them. If you enjoy eating outdoors as I do, then Joe T's cannot be beat!
With it being the warmest summer on record, it was 107 degrees on this particular visit. We opted to sit inside and were seated in one of the many beautiful indoor dining rooms. Although the parking lot had at least 75 cars we did not have to wait for a seat. We were led through the "tunnel" in the original part of the restaurant, through the gardens, and back inside in one of the several newer buildings.
If you have never been to Joe T. Garcia's but it sounds familiar, it may be because of their salsa. You have likely seen it on grocery store shelves at some point. Needless to say, their salsa is pretty famous and they give you an entire bowl. Although it is not obvious on the surface, with a little digging you will find that everything at Joe T's is about efficiency and speed. You never feel rushed, but it is the little things that add up, like not having to ask for extra salsa, that make the entire experience so pleasant.
The only minor inconsistency I have found is that on some visits the salsa has been very hot, while on others it was almost mild. The consistency is not chunky but not overly runny. There were very few jalapeno seeds which I personally appreciated. Having purchased their salsa from grocery stores, I also appreciate that it tastes the same when you visit in person. The chips appear to be homemade and were warm when they arrived. They could have used a little more salt, but that was an easy fix with the shaker on the table.
The menu at Joe T. Garcia's is not what you would expect to find. It has only two choices. You can get the "Traditional" or the "Fajitas." If you order the Traditional it comes with two cheese enchiladas covered in Ranchero sauce, two beef tacos , beans, rice and two nacho's. You may be wondering why only two nachos? Simple, they are each the size of small saucers! Just remember to ask them to leave the jalapenos off (as I did) if you are not a fan of the green stuff. Each nacho is covered in a thick layer of gooey, sharp cheese!
I opted for the Fajitas instead of the Traditional dinner. I was given a choice of chicken, steak or a combination. I chose the steak knowing that my wife would share some of her enchiladas with me! At least, that's what I thought would happen.
Tip: The Fajitas do not come with nachos. However, you can ordered an extra side of them so you don't feel left out when everyone else gets theirs.
My meal came with beans and rice and I was provided with an entire bowl for each of the following: cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and Pico de Gallo. I also received about a half dozen flour tortillas and the steak was mixed with sautéed onions and green bell peppers. The beef was flavorful but to my surprise was a little dry.
I decided to try the enchiladas which, as I recalled, are the best cheese enchiladas I have ever had. They are a little firm to the bite and not mushy. The ranchero sauce is not very spicy, yet it is packed with a robust flavor. Apparently the enchiladas were not having an off night the way the fajitas did. When I asked my wife for a bit she gave me a nervous look and then glanced at her plate where all that was left was some ranchero sauce, beans and rice. I was crushed! Then I remembered that I had ordered the cheese enchiladas for my kids! Quickly, before it was too late I got my bite! Okay! I admit it, I took two bites!! I couldn't help it, honestly, they are just that amazing!
Joe T. Garcia's is well known for their very strong margaritas. They are the right mix of sweet and sour and they will sneak up on you! My wife ordered a strawberry margarita which as expected has a strawberry flavor but not so much that it loses it's margarita flavor.
Over the decades, Joe T's has fine tuned their formula for efficiency. One trick is that they wait staff does not bring out the food. They come to your table accompanied by food servers that I casually refer to as the "Food Ninjas." They swoop in like a well choreographed team of experts and place empty plates in front of you. Then another server who is holding a tray, fresh from the oven, swoops in and puts the enchiladas on your plate. As he moves away another person begins placing large saucers of rice and beans on the table. Meanwhile, your waiter or waitress is checking to see if you need anything else such as a drink refill or more chips. Before you realize what happened, your table went from nearly empty to being completely full of plates and saucers of yummy goodness!
While the staff is methodical and fast, they never make you feel rushed. Instead, you feel like a guest invited into a close friends house. To me, this is the pinnacle of excellent service.
It is worth noting that Joe T. Garcia's is located in the Ft. Worth Stockyards which is very close to some high crime neighborhoods. However, Joe.T's almost always has a Ft. Worth Police officer out front watching over the parking lot. I feel safe leaving my car in this lot. However, on crowded nights I have seen some people park on the street a few blocks away. I would not recommend doing this. So go early and get a spot in a parking lot, or drive around until one opens up.