Category Archives: Reviews

Chicago Taco Trails: 106th Street

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Chicago: Taco capital. Home to Rick Bayless, the chef who helped changed Americans’ minds about Mexican cuisine and turned south of the border foodways into a fine-dining force, and a sizable, diverse Mexican immigrant population, offers aficionados of Mexican food, plenty of options. Chicago is also home to Titus Ruscitti, author of the Chicago Taco Tour blog, the tacologist behind the @tweetsoftacos Twitter account, and contributor to Serious Eats, LTHforum.com, Thrillist and Travel Wisconsin. We at the Taco Trail are honored that Titus, or Taco T, as he’ll be known here, is also Taco Trail’s newest contributor.

Without further ado:

Today we head to a part of Chicago rarely seen to those not from here. Actually, the same goes for many who do reside in the city. The East Side of Chicago sits in it’s own little part of the cities landscape. Most people see it driving over 106th Street while taking the Chicago skyway in or out of the city. What you also see when taking that route is the last of the industrial areas which goes by “Da Region”  amongst locals. You can check out a taco report I did on the old-school Mexican-American restaurants of northwest Indiana. But today we’re going to stay on the Chicago side and check out the trail along 106th Street, which is basically the last line between the city and the state of Indiana. Continue reading

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Filed under Chicago, Illinois, Reviews, Taco Tours

Tina’s Cocina

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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

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Filed under Fort Worth, Reviews, Texas

Stripes/Laredo Taco Company

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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

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Filed under Brownsville, Reviews, Rio Grande Valley, Tex-Mex, Texas

Taco-Mex

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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

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Filed under Austin, breakfast tacos, Reviews, Texas

Chichen Itza

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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

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Filed under Texas, Reviews, Dallas, East Dallas

Taqueria Laredo

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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.

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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

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Filed under Dallas, DFW, North Texas, Oak Cliff, Reviews, Texas

First Bite: El Come Taco

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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

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Filed under Dallas, DFW, East Dallas, first bite, Reviews, Texas

La Mexicana

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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

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Filed under Denton, DFW, Reviews

Taqueria Guanajuato

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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

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Filed under Denton, DFW, North Texas, Reviews

El Globo Taqueria

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TacoWeekBannerI 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

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Filed under Oak Cliff, Reviews, Taco Week