A few blocks beyond establishments like Ellerbe Fine Foods, the Usual, Spiral Diner and the Bearded Lady in Fort Worth’s Near Southside neighborhood, is a counter-ordering taqueria. The business, Tina’s Cocina, which opened in September 2013, offers no-nonsense tacos. They won’t knock your socks off but they’ll do you right.
The deshebrada—spelled without the “h” at Tina’s, probably to help non-Spanish speakers with the pronunciation—is brisket stewed in tomatoes and pepper until it shreds delicately. While there isn’t much in the way of heat, the taco is a homey, warm job in sweet yellow corn tortillas. Barbacoa is another pleasing nosh. Whereas most taquerias and Mexican restaurants employ beef cheek for their barbacoa, the kitchen at Tina’s uses ribs cooked covered in yucca. Continue reading
I have scads of gripes about long lines. Mainly due to their cultish aspects. The way I see it, if I’m going to wait in a long line hours before a restaurant opens it will be at a place where a specific food was invented, like La Fogoncito, birthplace of the gringa taco (a taco al pastor with cheese in a flour tortilla). However, lines are a rarity at a good taqueria.
Breakfast tacos weren’t invented at Stripes gas stations with Laredo Taco Company outposts and there are long lines, but the lines move quickly. When I visited a Stripes/Laredo Taco Company in the Rio Grande Valley, I waited maybe a couple of minutes between getting in line and receiving my tacos. With large flour tortillas that are fresher than that. Your tortillas are made after you order. And don’t be surprised if the woman taking your order breaks some bad news: they’re out of what you want but will be have another batch in 10 to 15 minutes if you’re willing to wait. This kind of freshness can be difficult to find in quiet hole-in-the-wall taquerias in Dallas. Continue reading
This is a hole in a wall. Really. Wedged between a laundromat, a hair salon and a convenience store, Taco-Mex is an orange color-framed walk-up taco window. From the menu at the right are available $1.75 vinegar-spiked cactus strips embroiled in scrambled eggs, refried beans speckled with whole pintos and a network of melted cheese, peppy chorizo and egg as well as migas minus the Scoville slap of jalapeños. The $2 barbaoca is a greasy cowhead-lovers dream and would make admirable hangover salve.
The bacon and egg and ham and egg breakfast tacos by comparison are standard fare for the varied clientele of university students, young adults who have pioneered gentrification of surrounding East Austin, locals tapping their feet to the rhythm of the washers and dryers next door, and the fashionable lot who prefer not to shop at in.gredients, the hip grocer across the street. Ratchet up their satisfaction with the creamy salsa verde, a lung-puncher of a condiment. Continue reading
This is an update of sorts. The first time I visited Chichen Itza, I found the lowest Greenville taqueria/panaderia to be an awful place serving terrible tacos. That was 2011, and Greenville Avenue was just beginning its slow creep to revitalization. Now the neighborhood is on the upswing: Coffee shops, beer bars, restaurants, a bike shop, heck, even a trendy grocery store and food truck park. It was the latter, the Truck Yard, that drew me one weekday afternoon. Unfortunately, the taco truck I had traveled to see was a no-show. Chichen Itza was the only other taco option nearby. So Chichen Itza, it was. Continue reading
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
I got the call a couple hours before opening time. Luis Villalva, who had previously worked at Revolver Taco Lounge in Fort Worth and most recently worked with Taco Party (he was the guy in the soccer jersey manning the trompo at TacoCon), was finally ready to serve tacos at his own place, El Come [Koh-meh] Taco on Fitzhugh Avenue. “José, it’s Luis. We open El Come Taco at 5 p.m. Come eat some tacos,” was the voicemail message. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it for first service. But I made it for lunch the next day—the day I had waited for since Villalva clued me into his plan at TacoCon. And it was worth it.
El Come Taco translates to He Eats Taco, and, for the time being, tacos are all you can eat when you visit the taqueria. Villalva did tell me huaraches, quesadillas and other antojitos would join the slate eventually. Nevertheless, the tacos are enough. They’re also surprising. Not just because there are off-menu options but because Villalva and staff have brought a little of their former Mexico City operation, Transito, to East Dallas. Continue reading
La Mexicana’s overall taco quality is difficult to evaluate. It is one of Denton’s few authentic Mexican sit-down restaurants, which means its menu is more expansive than the other taquerias we’ve visited in the city.
Its tacos are served lightly oiled tortillas and topped with cilantro and chopped onion, and of the six tacos I ordered four hit the mark. Continue reading
Filed under Denton, DFW, Reviews
A blanket of warm air wafted over me the moment I stepped into Denton’s Taqueria Guanajuato. The heavenly aroma of 10 warm cuts of meat sitting on a skillet quickly enveloped me as the door closed behind me.
This small taqueria offers the basics: carne asada, lengua, barbacoa, chicken, campechanos, chicharron, al pastor and beef fajita. It also has a few choices that I’m not used to seeing as the main course on tacos: chorizo and nopales.
One of Taqueria Guanajuato’s big advantages is that it offers tacos in both small and large tortillas. Obviously the larger tortillas cost a few cents more, but you get a more filling meal. The small tortilla option allows for variety in taste.
I admit I was eating on a bit of a tight budget, but I think I made the right call with the tacos I ordered. Continue reading
I headed to Dallas for the weekend with two things in mind: seeing my family and taking a trip to El Globo Taqueria in the heart of North Oak Cliff.
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
The whistle of the A-Train blew seconds before the lady behind the counter called to us: “Quieren cebolla y cilantro?” Do you want onion and cilantro? My brother and I both responded with a childish “Si” and returned to our table, each with a plate of three corn tortilla tacos.
La Estrella Mini-Mart serves up the taco basics: barbacoa, chicken, carne asada, lengua and al pastor.
At $1.25 for a single two-bite taco, La Estrella’s tacos may seem pricey. But what the tacos lack in size, they more than make up for in quality.
La Estrella’s meats are seasoned just enough to allow for the natural flavor of beef, pork and chicken to poke through to the taste buds.
For my first round (because I did go back for another round of tacos), I ordered one chicken, one carne asada and one al pastor.
The carne asada, the standard of any taqueria, is tender, lightly seasoned and contains almost none of the annoying bits of chewy fat that sometimes get in the way of fully enjoying a carne asada taco.
The chicken meat is cut into even little squares that seem to blend into the cilantro and onion and, when covered with the house salsa verde and lime juice, the taco undergoes a refreshing transformation.
My favorite was undoubtedly the tacos al pastor. The succulent pork almost melted in my mouth. With or without salsa, the tacos al pastor significantly stand out because of how well the taste of pork is delivered via the corn tortilla, onions and cilantro. Even when covered in either the green or red salsa, none of the taste is lost.
Needless to say, the texture of the tacos is not exaggerated in any way and the simplicity only adds to the taste by not raising expectations.
Unless you grew up eating in dark but colorful taquerias, you may find it difficult to appreciate the cozy atmosphere at La Estrella. Seating inside is limited, with only three small tables and beat-up chairs.
The best taquerias aren’t always pretty. What the best taquerias do is serve the superlative tacos above all else.
Seeing as how this is my first review of a Denton taqueria, it is too soon to give the “Best of Denton” title to La Estrella. But this colorful convenience store/taqueria certainly set the bar substantially high for future reviews.
La Estrella Mini Market
602 E. McKinney St.
Denton, TX 76205