Reprinted with the permission of the Alpine Avalanche Newspaper – http://www.alpineavalanche.com
It all started back in 1842 when a young Belgian boy named Anton Diedrick witnessed a murder.
He was drugged and shanghaied by the murderers, and when he awoke, he found that he’d been imprisoned on a ship. After three years on the high seas, Anton was allowed off the boat when it landed in Galveston. No sooner had he gotten off this boat, he was “recruited” to fight with the Americans in the war against Mexico.
When enlisted and the recruiting officer asked his name and he didn’t respond because he knew no English, the officer said that he looked “Dutch all over” and so his name became Diedrick Dutchallover, later shortened to Dutchover. After the war, Dutchover came out West to work on the Butterfield Stageline which carried mail from San Antonio to El Paso.
Fast forward to 1980 and five generations later, and Anton’s descendants opened Poco Mexico Café. All of the recipes used at the café are family recipes. When Maria Dutchover was ready to retire in 2010, her son Manny, Anton’s sixth generation descendant, moved back home to Fort Davis to help carry on the family business. Even though Maria is retired, she is often found in the kitchen.
Many of the other Dutchovers work there, and you’ll be hard-pressed to eat lunch when there’s not a Dutchover sitting at a table near you. Among the most popular dishes at Poco Mexico are the chile rellenos, hamburgers and the green enchiladas. My personal Numero Uno Favorite is the Scott’s Tacos plate… beef tacos smothered by a creamy green chile sauce and melted cheese that I’ve been unable to replicate at home. Scott’s Tacos are below.
While Poco Mexico is usually open only for lunch, the Dutchovers have been hosting the Fort Davis Lions Club for dinner twice a month for many years. They serve us everything from smothered hamburger steak with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes to succulent chicken fajitas to the every-popular crispy, cheesy chile rellenos. Maria always bakes a delicious cake, pie or cobbler to finish our dinner. We meet for dinner first, and then hold our Lions Club meeting after dinner.
The food is authentic and fresh, and always hits the spot. The last time I had lunch there, we had a group of Lions meeting for our special events committee. Our Club President, Mike Murphy, ordered the “combo chicken fajitas.” Our waitress asked him several times to repeat his order, asking if he also wanted beef. He repeatedly said, “No, I’d like the combo chicken.” Finally, she said, “Combo is beef and chicken!” We all laughed and he ended up with a beautiful plate of chicken fajitas that made me wish I’d ordered what he was having, so I ended up with the chicken fajitas on my next visit. I have yet to try any dish that didn’t leave me completely satisfied.
Open from 11-2 every day except Saturday, Poco (as we locals call it) is on Highway 17, just barely outside of Fort Davis if you’re heading towards Balmorhea.
(Pictured below is a plate with red and green enchiladas, a plate with crispy tacos and a relleno, and another plate with tacos and a relleno. YUM😁)
Poco Mexico Café’s Chile Rellenos
(Manny told me he doesn’t use a recipe, he just makes the rellenos)
12 Anaheim chilies
1 block mild cheddar cheese cut into thick slices to stuff in the peppers
Vegetable oil for frying
3 cups flour
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1-1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
Roast fresh chiles over open flame on high heat until the skin of the peppers blackens, pops and start to separate. Put the peppers in wet paper towels to steam a little for easier peeling (I broil mine in the oven at 450 degrees for eight minute intervals, turning often for even roasting).
Peel the chilies. Insert a slice of cheese into each. After cheese is in each chile, mix all batter ingredients until smooth. Lightly roll the chilies but a thin layer of plain flour before battering each chile. The commercial fryer at Poco Mexico is set at 280 degrees and the rellenos are ready when they float to the top. When pan frying, cook them for a total of five minutes, turning after the first two minutes. They are ready to serve when golden brown. Serve with rice and beans.