While the Texoma restaurant lineup has long had a strong Tex-Mex presence, in the last few years the number of places offering more traditional Mexican and Central American cuisines have grown rapidly. While many of the dishes are unfamiliar to local diners, the opportunity to try different things and have new dining experiences is an adventure not to be missed.


Arroyo’s Mexican Restaurant & Taqueria in Sherman is the flagship operation of three restaurants. The Arroyo’s in Pottsboro has been in business for about a year, and the newest store, in Van Alstyne, opened in September. Deciding something good must be driving the expansion, I recently met a friend at the Sherman location for lunch. We arrived at about 1 p.m. and the parking lot was still almost full.


The menu is a little daunting, running six pages. In addition to the traditional sort of Tex-Mex items like tacos, enchiladas, tamales, burritos, quesadillas and fajitas, Arroyo’s features soups — two types of Menudo, beef and vegetables, and three varieties of seafood soups. Having tried the beef and vegetable (Caldo de Res) at another restaurant, the soup idea interested me, but the dishes were offered only in entree size bowls. I think restaurants should offer soup in smaller servings. With big bowls only, they are missing a bet.


There is a separate listing for grilled items (Parrilladas) and another for Mariscos (seafood) specialties, mostly shrimp dishes. The lunch menu alone has 16 entries, and after much indecision, I decided to try the chili rellenos, a favorite of mine, and leave the exploration of lesser known dishes for another time. Monday and Wednesday are $1 taco days, so I added a crispy beef fajita taco to my order. Across the table, my friend ordered three tacos, ground beef, fajitas, and pork and a tamale with chili.


Before we ordered, the waitress brought a basket of chips with three dips. The chips were very fresh, light and crisp, and the dips included two salsas, and a warm queso. The queso was on the thin side, but excellent, and I soon was dipping and munching while engaging in hand aerobatics to try and avoid dribbles of cheese on the table. It was well worth the effort.


I like crispy shell tacos. Arroyo’s crispy shell was filled with fajita beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomato, and did not last long. Then I turned to the main course. The chili relleno was huge, well stuffed with beef and cheese and topped with the chili and sour cream I had asked for. The plate came with rice and refried beans. I finished the plate while still taking occasional swipes at the cup of queso with a chip. Across the table, my friend pronounced his choices as quite good, and when I borrowed a bite of the tamale, I agreed.


For dessert we had a couple of sopapillas. They came with butter and honey, and were good, but nothing special. They lacked the size and puffiness that I expected. But sweet is sweet, and they finished off the meal well enough.


I continue to be surprised at the diversity and quality of Mexican cuisine available in the area, and would count my first visit to Arroyo’s as a pleasant success. The next time around I will have to dive into the seafood options.


Complaints, suggestions, ideas? Let me know at Sparkes@heralddemocrat.com.