Wherever there are taquerias, there is art that distinguishes each shop from its competition, attracts clientele and marks the origins of business. This folk art takes the form of menus painted onto facades, anthropomorphic tacos and chiles, women hard at work at a metate, Monterrey landmark Cerro de la Silla, whatever the owners or workers can imagine. There need not be any association between what the taqueria serves and what adorns its edifice, as is the case of El Si Hay in Oak Cliff, a Dallas neighborhood famed for its tacos. The freestanding joint does not serve tacos al pastor from a trompo; yet, there on an exterior wall is a painting of a taquero at a trompo. Dallas Observer photographer Catherine Downes was kind enough to take shots of some of Oak Cliff’s remarkable taqueria art, including of El Si Hay. A collection of those wonderful photos, and the next installment in our Tacos Illustrated series is below.
Category Archives: Oak Cliff
It’s not difficult to find handmade or housemade tortillas in Dallas-Fort Worth. Tortillerias are plentiful, and any business offering them will make sure you know it. Taqueria Laredo along U.S. Highway 67 in south Oak Cliff is one such establishment. The words are painted large across a retaining wall on one side of a parking lot usually full of cars, pickup trucks mostly. The same wall bears a menu in the form of painted signposts. It’s a fanciful touch that has Taco Trail written all over it.
As its name suggests Laredo Restaurant serves Rio Grande Valley-style eats, namely barbacoa and flour tortillas with the radius of the wheel from a child’s bike. Those items, and by the looks of the food on tables, pozole,are the hits of the house, available only on specific days at a taqueria whose days of operations are Friday, Saturdays and Sundays. Laredo is a special place. Continue reading
In honor of tomorrow’s big announcement, we give a recipe originally published by our friends at Entree Dallas. It’s a winner of a taco, being the creation that earned Driftwood executive chef Omar Flores first place in the inaugural North Texas Taco Festival Taco Throwdown.
Speaking of which who thinks they can beat Omar in 2014? Continue reading
The 28 years El Globo has operated really say something about the quality of its tacos. The tacos here are adorned with cilantro and chopped onions on either flour or yellow corn tortillas. The corn tortilla tacos are served with two tortillas that have been lightly warmed on an oiled skillet, and come with three kinds of salsas: tomatillo and jalapeño, chile de arbol and tomato, and avocado with jalapeño.
The carne asada was tasty and was best complemented by the tomatillo and jalapeño salsa.
The barbacoa was moist, soft and appeared to have been cooked in its own fat. Frankly, you can’t go wrong with meat that increases its own tastiness. Continue reading
“Yeow! That’s hot,” screamed the young man working the fryer at Taco Wagon, which opened in June after a more than a year of renovation and taunting fans of the original Taco Wagon with its coming soon sign, the $5 pony rides in the old drive-in’s parking lot adding a new twist to the anticipation. His pain was a good sign. It meant the crispy taco I ordered would come with a freshly fried shell.
That taco dorado is the anchor of the Tex-Mex menu that includes breakfast tacos and guisos to be eaten under the corrugated metal roof patio with wrought-iron outdoor furniture adjacent to the 1950s building in a shape reminiscent of an old covered wagon, a reminder of the original occupant, the Chuck Wagon. A car under the drive-in shelter in the gravel parking and to-go are the other dining options. Continue reading
Some are here fresh out of church, fashion cowboy boots reflecting the overhead lights. Some just rolled in for lunch. They’re wearing pressed embellished western shirts, what could pass as First Holy Communion gowns, work clothes, mechanics coveralls, whatever was clean and didn’t require ironing. I’m one of the latter. All of them, including myself, are crowded near a clear patch of counter between the cash register where customers place orders and the steam trays, separated from the full luncheonette counter by glass.
The trays hold guisos, carnitas and barbacoa (both only on weekend), menudo, and several grilled meats in their own juices. These are squeezed into gorditas, get piled on bread for tortas, bought by the pound, poured into small cauldrons and made into tacos.
All of these dishes pack the every table—especially the vermillion menudo—in the dining space of La Guadalupana, a meat market and grocery store in Oak Cliff. Continue reading
The second annual Oak Cliff Film Festival kicks off Thursday, June 6, and it promises to outdo the inaugural edition. Not only will there be events hosted at the Texas Theatre, the Kessler Theather, Bishop Arts Theater and the Belmont Hotel, there will be myriad events of all shenanigan levels. Croquet will go down on the Turner House lawn and Oak Cliff’s Small Brew housemates will take one step closer to opening their Small Brew Pub with a pop-up at Jefferson Tower. The Capture the Flag Bike Ride rolls out from the Texas on Saturday evening. And like the film festival, the neighborhood’s taco options have changed and evolved. Here are my picks for those looking to get a taco fix in the Cliff.
Cool & Hot, 930A E. 8th St., 214-944-5330
This converted gas station and car wash makes their corn tortillas in house and serves the best breakfast tacos south of the Trinity. The mouth-puckering barbacoa on a diminutive flour tortilla alone is the ideal first stop on your daily film festival itinerary. The chorizo and egg taco packs a delightful soft slap of heat.
Taquería Tiquicheo, 110 S. Marsalis Ave., Ste. A, 214-941-4300
This small, cash-only joint serves fierce pollo deshebrada, chicken stewed and shredded. Tiquicheo’s version is prepared with tomatoes and chilies and nestled in house-made tortillas. Temper the heat with a Mexican Coke.
El Pueblo Restaurant, 525 E. Jefferson Blvd., 214-946-3070
This corner joint serves the best carnitas in Oak Cliff with a side of unhurried service.
El Tizoncito Taqueria, 3404 W. Illinois Ave., Ste. 100, 214-330-0839
This small Dallas chain’s original location sits at the corner of Westmoreland and Illinois, serving classic Mexico City tacos al pastor from a trompo, mischievously sloppy choriqueso that marries cheese and chorizo on a bed of three flour tortillas as well as a full menu of Mexican fare.
Los Torres Taqueria, 1322 W. Clarendon Dr., 214-946-3770
This mom-and-pop shop is something special. It’s the only Sinaloan restaurant in Dallas—so far—and it has never failed when it comes to incredible northern Mexican dishes like gamey goat birria de chivo, luscious cabeza (a mix of beef cheek and tongue) and barbacoa roja estilo Sinaloa, which has pork and beef in every exquisite bite. True to the state of origin, order your tacos in handmade flour tortillas. But if you insist, at least request the handmade corn tortillas. Continue reading
Dallas’ best potato and egg taco is found along Singleton Avenue, near the Trinity Groves. And I’m concerned it’s not long for this world. Until, a friend and I decided to try our luck with lunch at Taquería La Chilanga, the red, yellow, orange and white freestanding taquería at the foot of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, I’d not seen it open for business for months. I had thought it had already fallen victim to the restaurant concepts taking up the development led by uber-restaurateur Phil Romano and partners, at the eatery’s doorstep.
What we found wasn’t a gem but a solid operation making its own corn and flour tortillas by hand, a taquería that deserves constant business.
Lunch was every taco available—a total of seven—on tortillas de maiz hechas a mano split between two customers. We were the only customers. Continue reading
When I interviewed La Nueva Fresh & Hot Tortilleria owner Gloria Vazquez for my D Magazine Best Tacos in Dallas feature, I learned that not only has her family been making tortillas since the late 1960s in their home state of Zacatacas, Mexico, but that between she and her siblings the Vazquez clan owns and operates several Dallas-area tortilla factories.
In an email conversation, Vazquez said, “My father, Arcenio Vazquez Muñoz, opened the first Tortilleria in Rio Grande, Zacatecas, in 1968. Currently in Rio Grande there are six locations of which I am the owner of one, they are all still operating the same way they did when my father first opened them. There are [other] locations in the metroplex owned by my two brothers, which have been opened for nine years.” Aside from the Webb Chapel branch, there is a La Nueva Fresh & Hot in Lewisville but what of the other Vasquez family shops? Some of them do business under the name La Nueva Puntada.
Last weekend, my family and I stopped at the Duncanville location after a camping trip. We were filled with excitement and high expectation, and hungry. Like La Nueva Fresh & Hot, the La Nueva Puntada on Camp Wisdom Road isn’t a restaurant, which is contrary to what the website photo gallery led me to believe. Had junior not been drowsy and had our car not been stuffed with camping equipment, we would’ve eaten our tacos in the comfort of it. Instead we took the food home. That wasn’t the best decision. By the time we got home and opened our Styrofoam to-go containers, the tacos had cooled some.
Breakfast in Texas means tacos, and breakfast has been on my mind a lot lately. So, I’d thought I’d offer my current top 10 places for the proper way to begin a day—anywhere, not just in the Lone Star State.
Taqueria La Salsa Verde
Although its appearance shows otherwise, the taquera working this Richardson gas-station counter claims the taco de cabeza (above) is prepared al vapor. Whatever its preparation, the taco is still excellent. Which is really all that matters to me first thing in the morning. The choriqueso is the cabeza’s equal. 14225 Coit Road, 972-330-0403
The chorizo and cheese at this South Congress shack offers buckshot heat in a large tortilla, giving any road trip a fiery start. 4406 S. Congress Ave., Austin, 512-443-9308 Continue reading