One can smell the spicy aroma upon entering the three Best of Texoma Mexican food finalists: La Mesa Mexican Restaurant, of Sherman; Camino Viejo of Sherman; and Jalapeño Tree of both Sherman and Denison. Following that pleasant scent past tables until one is seated, one gets a chance to order up his own special, favorite sizzle.

All three restaurants serve up more Tex-Mex than original Mexican food. Rachel Payne, general manager of La Mesa, explained that it was her understanding that Tex-Mex uses different seasonings and meats than authentic Mexican food.

Lalo Zamora, of Camino Viejo, said that he believes that two styles are much the same.

“Mexican food has rice and beans and enchiladas, and so does Tex-Mex food,” he said. “There’s a little line down the middle of this, but it’s a fine line.”

And Billy Bambrey with the Jalapeño Tree restaurants said that “Mex-Mex is usually used for more traditional or interior-style Mexican foods. Tex-Mex tends to be a fusion of Texas and Mexican cuisines, and uses more beef and cheeses, and is often a little spicier.”

He said that the Jalapeño Tree restaurants offer “a little both styles, but lean toward Tex-Mex.”

“I would say that the lines get blurred across a variety of Mexican food restaurants across Texas,” Bambrey said.

He also added a third category of Mexican food — New-Mex, which he said is what is served more in New Mexico and uses more of the Hatch-type chilies unique to that area of the southwest.