New upmarket taco operations, whether a truck or a brick-and-mortar concern, give me pause. Are the owners only in the business because they like tacos and see them as an easy entry into the food industry? You know, because a taco is anything you want it to be? Such is the case of the now defunct 333’s Gourmet Taco Shop. Charging up to $12 for a sloppy product on Kroger tortillas was never sustainable long-term. Or are they driven by something more? Flatlanders Taco Co., a lonchera wrapped in a mod Dia de los Muertos shell, is an example of the latter.
Inspired by their time living in Colorado and years of traveling and studying in Mexico, Texans Ashley and Tyler Hall returned home to offer tacos influenced by Tyler’s lifelong intimacy with Mexican food in the United States. “For me, I grew up eating tacos and tamales. Mexican food has always been a two or three night a week meal in my family,” he says. “My first homemade authentic meal, menudo, was while working as a dishwasher when I was 13. That was my introduction to a flavor profile that has always got me looking for the best homestyle Mexican cooking wherever I am. When I met my wife 7 years ago, the obsession doubled with her love for it as well. Now it’s almost every meal. Everywhere we travel, we try to find an off-the-beaten-path Mexican grocer, restaurant, stand or truck to get our fix, always taking note of our favorite and unique sauces, salsas and taco combinations.” The result, Tyler says, is an effort to create specialty tacos while staying within the bounds of tradition. And it’s promising. Continue reading
Salsa Limón’s rig.
With locations at La Gran Plaza mall and on Berry Street (across from the original Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, for which they get major props), a roving truck and a new restaurant (AKA Salsa Limón Museo), across from the Modern Art Museum, Salsa Limón has built itself a mini empire in Fort Worth. Dallas is next.
During a Salsa Limón stop in the Harwood District for last Saturday, Ramiro Ramirez, co-owner along with sister, Rosalia, confirmed to Taco Trail that Salsa Limón will have a presence at Jason Boso’s Truck Yard on Lower Greenville, a something Teresa Gubbins vaguely mentioned in a Culture Map story. “We’ll be there as often as possible,” he said of the food truck park whose concept includes rotating vendors. Ramirez also mentioned a desire to have a rig station at Southern Methodist University, his alma mater.
How would Salsa Limón’s offerings—tacos, tortas, quesadillas—especially the signature El Capitan, hold up against Torchy’s Tacos’ edible melees and Rusty Taco’s reliable fare? Continue reading
Because one taco festival a year isn’t enough, the North Texas Taco Festival and Four Corners Brewing Company are hosting Dallas-Fort Worth TacoCon (Cerveza), the area’s first celebration of the lonchera, or taco truck. The Friday, September 6, event will be held on the grounds of Four Corners Brewing Company at the foot of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, from 6 p.m.–10 p.m.
And it will truly be regional, with five trucks and trailers from Dallas and Fort Worth. They are: Chile Pepper Grill, Holy Frijole, Ssahm BBQ, Taco Heads, and Taco Party. Each lonchera will be selling their unique take on your favorite food. Four Corners will have its bar space open for beer by the pint, including a one-off special brewed for TacoCon (Cerveza). Of course, there will be live musical entertainment.
There will be plenty of free parking and no admission charge. All you have to do is show up hungry for tacos with beer.
RSVP at www.tacoconcerveza.eventbrite.com, and check out TacoCon (Cerveza)’s Facebook event page.
If you’ve picked up the February issue of D Magazine—and if you haven’t, you should—you’ve seen my feature, “The Top 20 Taquerias in Dallas.” Unfortunately, between press time and the newsstand date, two of the restaurants listed shut their doors for good, although both cited they have future projects in mind. Each cited lack of customer traffic. Taco Republic, which wowed me with the Thai Chihuahua and use of tortillas made from nixtamal, closed last month and was ranked number 7 on my list. Taco Republic didn’t make to its first anniversary. Owner Ron Guest placed the blame squarely on the fast-casual joint’s location. Taco Republic was a pain in the neck to get to. Café Maya, made it past the year mark before closing in January, but not by much. The loss of Café Maya hurt. When co-owner Sergio Pinto broke the bad news to me, it felt like someone had thrown hundreds of slap bracelet around my gut. It hurt. And not just because it meant I’d be missing the killer cochinita pibil. Café Maya was a family-owned joint that put it all out there. I hate seeing family restaurants shut down. We need more of them.
What follows are additional write-ups that could’ve been on the list for some reason. About the first: Had I visited the truck more than once before I filed my story, the mobile concern would’ve broken the top 10, as the best taco truck in the Dallas. The second, a Dallas institution owned by one of the standard-bearers of Mexican food and Tex-Mex in this city, was edged out by a late entry. Nevertheless, it’s worthy of an honorable mention, as are Birrieria Aguiñaga, Fito’s #3, La Tejanita and Taco Ocho (which I’ve reviewed in the past). Continue reading
DFW Truck for Tots — On Saturday December 8, 2012 from 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., 25 Dallas and Fort Worth food trucks are gathering at the corner of Elm Street and Gaston Avenue in Deep Ellum (2505 Elm Street, Dallas, TX) for a massive toy drive for the Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of Toys for Tots. More than 20 United States Marines will be on hand to take toy donations and guests are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for a needy child. Pictures with Santa will be available in addition to live music, bounce houses and more than 50 vendors for holiday shopping.
In partnership with local schools including W.E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy and Lincoln High School, students will be encouraged to collect toys and bring them to the event with their family. There will also be a performance by the Lincoln High School Tiger Marching Band. More than 25 confirmed food trucks will be on-site, including Rock & Roll Tacos, Rockstar Bakeshop, Easy Slider Truck, Ssahm BBQ, Gepetto’s Pizza, Three Lions, The Gastro Bomber and more.
Guests are encouraged to ride the DART Green Line and get off at the Deep Ellum Station, which is across the street from the event. Guests coming from North Dallas can ride any line into downtown and transfer to the Green Line without worrying about the hassle of parking. This event is brought to you by DFW Food Truck Group, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and other local sponsors. Continue reading
No city’s food truck scene is complete without taco trucks, and if they’re good, even better. Thankfully, Dallas’ taco trucks are exactly that and Taco Party, the latest rig to roll out, continues the trend. But it’s different.
Instead of the aggressive flavors common in north of the border tacos from our area’s other food trucks, Taco Party, owned and operated by cousins Rafael Rico and Eduardo Ramirez, offers the nuanced, dialed-down flavors of Mexico. There are exceptions, of course, namely the brisket with ancho sauce and the fish with a standard chipotle crema accompaniment.
The confit pork in green sauce (similar to a guisado verde) is an impressive mound of cubed meat laced with a tomatillo salsa that could’ve been a touch tighter. Tucked into the springy pork were pulpy strands of fat that completed a terrific taco with teasing heat in non-greasy yellow corn tortillas.
Last week, I decried the fact that no food truck, much less a taco truck, was serving breakfast tacos. Then, I went to the Grand Prairie Farmers Market’s Hatch Chile Festival, hungry. There weren’t any taco trucks stationed on the west end of the market, but Taste of Home, a rig specializing in Chicago-style sausages, was selling breakfast tacos, Hatch chilies optional.
The line for the tacos was five deep. The number of people waiting for their orders was twice that, while the wait for said orders was 30 minutes. One woman paced, barely containing her exasperation. Shortly thereafter, her name was called with the wrong order repeated to her. She darted out of view when she got the correct tacos. But the natives were getting restless. Other customers grumbled. One threatened to demand reimbursement. Another remarked, “These breakfast tacos better come with gold plate.” Continue reading
Operating out of Tarrant County, Scott Wooley’s So-Cal Tacos is a red rig affixed with a surfboard. Like its Dallas counterpart, Rock and Roll Tacos, it’s hard to miss. So-Cal Tacos is also the truck that initiated my quest for primo fish tacos, leading to notable selections across Dallas-Fort Worth and San Diego (more on that in the future).
The San Diego Classic, the signature dish, resembles a Gorton’s fish fillet of childhood but offers bright, acidic licks and a pleasant crunch imparted by panko breading and zippy garnishes of slaw and aioli. The breading is a departure from the standard fish taco enclosed in beer-batter. However, it works. And in three words: I dig it. Continue reading
A friend and I took off for a day of tacos in Fort Worth last month. By the end of the taco tour, we had visited three restaurants, one truck and one trailer. The trailer in question was Chile Pepper Grill in the Cowtown Chow Down food truck park.
What I noticed first about Chili Pepper Grill was the impressive menu. There was asada and tripe but also an alambre taco, meat with all the fixings. Choriqueso, a gooey hybrid of a taco, was another option. Huaraches, tortas, gorditas, quesadillas and burritos, each for six dollars, rounded out the available items.