The taco de colita de pavo at Flores Meat Market in El Paso.
¡Saludos! Welcome. You likely arrived here via Texas Monthly’s The 120 Tacos You Must Eat Before You Die issue. Thanks. I began working on that editorial package more than a year ago, when Pat Sharpe, the magazine’s food critic, and I initiated a conversation about what form a taco issue would take. Eventually we designed an evaluation sheet (printed in the magazine for your use); set about organizing a team (small but mighty); a schedule (grueling); and what I would contribute (a joyful lot). It was a dream come true for me.
I kicked off my exploration of Texas’ taco landscape in 2010, shortly after moving to the state. Initially I focused on Dallas. Then I widen my scope to suburbs like Richardson and Addison. Fort Worth was next. Along the way, I ate tacos across Austin, where I have family and friends. Eventually I set my sights on San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.
Texas and its tacos are beautiful, I thought. Continue reading
Photo: Four Corners Brewing
For a couple of years now, I’ve partnered with Four Corners Brewing Co., maker of my go-to IPA, El Chingón, for taco events. I can’t seem to stop. Sharing tacos comes with my job description. The last one was Taco Night, a trompo taco-and-beer fiesta featuring Dallas’ best practitioners of tacos al pastor and tacos de trompo. Next up I’m helping out with Four Corners’ third-annual Dia de los Puercos on Sunday, November 1.
Inspired by the tradition of Día de los Muertos, it’s a day where we invite people to come celebrate “el día de hoy”…the “here and now”…with friends and family. For us, that simply includes fun people, great music, pork-centric eats and some tasty brews. Continue reading
Twister Tacos in Odessa is housed in a former fast-food joint building.
Taquerias can find homes anywhere the local health department will allow them to set up shop. In the case of Twister Tacos in Odessa, Texas, it’s an old Mexican fast-food spot with a new paint job. The ruined concrete on the front patio remains where it fell, perhaps during a previous incarnation. I imagine it as a result of an AT-AT with a driver in need of his eyes examined.
The eyes are deceiving at Twister Tacos. The 11-year-old taqueria, whose current owner took over for her sister in January, advertises tacos al pastor straight from the trompo, but no trompo is visible on the premises. When I asked about the contraption, the owner’s daughter, who was running the cash register, stalled answering and when she did answer, her speech trailed off into mumbling.
The look of the pork filling deepened my doubt of the al pastor’s provenance. It looked more like pork chop resting in house-made chewy, flavor-neutral corn tortillas.
There is a winner here, though. Continue reading
More taco talk, this time with mezcal.
Because I can’t stop when it comes to tacos, later this month I’m involved in a panel that will discuss the history and future of tacos in Dallas. The panel will be moderated by Lesley Téllez, award-wining food writer, former Dallasite, and author of Eat Mexico: Recipes From Mexico City’s Streets, Markets and Fondas. Tickets are on sale now and include all-you-can-eat tacos. More information is below.
From the cash-only hole-in-the-wall joint to the fancy taqueria, Dallas is obsessed with tacos. But how did they get here? How have they gone from crunchy shell to gourmet fillings? And why? What’s next for the street snack? The panel discussion Dallas Tacography: The Tortilla’s Tale in Big D at El Come Taco on Tuesday, July 14, will tackle those questions and more. With all-you-can-eat tacos.
Moderating Dallas Tacography will be Lesley Téllez, award-winning food writer and former Dallasite, and author of the new cookbook Eat Mexico: Recipes From Mexico City’s Streets, Markets and Fondas, released in June by Kyle Books. The book is a culinary love letter to one of the biggest cities in the world, with more than 100 recipes and beautiful on-location photography.
Joining Lesley in talking Dallas tacos will be a lineup of top-notch area food writers, restaurateurs and bloggers: Continue reading
As I mentioned in my review of Mi Lindo Oaxaca, Honorio Garcia and family prepare their food from scratch. In the case of the restaurant’s mole and tejate, that means the toasting and shelling of cacao beans, by hand. Because if you’re going to make mole, you need to make chocolate too. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to watch that chocolate being made in Mi Lindo Oaxaca‘s kitchen. It’s a marvel. The video is below.
Everything is better with a taco, especially the young but formidable Oak Cliff Film Festival, which calls the Texas Theatre home. Within tortilla-flinging distance (and all over the neighborhood) of the historic movie house are scads of notable taquerias and restaurants. Once again, we offer our recommendations.
Los Torres Taqueria, 1322 W. Clarendon Dr., 214-946-3770
This mom-and-pop shop is something special. It’s the only Dallas restaurant specializing in Sinaloan-style meat preparations, and where you go when you want excellent tacos. The Torres family has never failed when it comes to serving northern Mexican dishes like cinnamon-spiked 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.
La Tacoqueta, 2324 W. Clarendon Dr., Ste. 100, 214-943-9991
On a strip of Clarendon dominated by auto shops and faded concrete, cheekily named La Tacoqueta is a sepia, wood and tile haven offering hit-the-spot tacos of carne asada, chicken and al pastor.Alas, there is no spit. The breakfast tacos come with handmade tortillas but others don’t. The service is always on point and the salsa is always fiery.
Fito’s Tacos de Trompo #2, 3113 W. Davis St.
This joint is hard to miss. Just look for the painting of Monterrey’s geographic landmark, the Serro de la Silla mountain, and the restaurant’s name is big red letters. Order the signature menu item, tacos de trompo—the northern Mexican cousin of tacos al pastor seasoned with paprika, not a chile, achiote and citrus adobo, and roasted on the vertical spit called, you guessed it, a trompo. But bring cash. Fito’s doesn’t accept plastic.
From east to west and points north, tacos were first and foremost on everyone’s minds this week. The New York Times even got a piece of the action with its Taco Issue. One of the articles printed in that section ruffled a few feathers by claiming the Big Apple was just as great a taco capital as Los Angeles. Bill Esparza fired back with a pat on the head: “it’s cute that you keep trying over there.” Gustavo Arellano tempered things with a shoulder squeeze, reminding us that New York’s place in stateside Mexican food history had been secured with Buffalo Bill and Juvencio Maldonado. The latter secured a patent for a tortilla-frying device in 1950 (why is such a significant milestone so easily forgotten?).
We took the opportunity to ramp up activity with interviews, a review, a recipe, a National Taco Day roadmap curated with the help of friends across the United States and Canada. Local publications repackaged old content. For a taste of other Taco Internet goings-on, make the jump. Continue reading
Taco locator smartphone applications aren’t new. I have yet to find one that works. TacoQuest might be that one. The new app by Kitchener, Ontario-based DinDin Kitchen Inc., allows taco enthusiasts worldwide contribute their local tacos and taco joints with the TacoQuest community. Taco photos, comments, check-ins and reviews are submitted by users around the globe with Foursqure-powered venue data. Think of it like a cross between Untappd and Foursqure, but, better—obviously.
“Tacos can be good and tacos can be great. With TacoQuest, we’re building a platform to help customers find the most amazing taco experience possible,” says Alex Kinsella, DinDin Kitchen Inc., co-founder, “With TacoQuest, we’re building out a micro-search platform that our community can extend in an infinite number of ways.”
Another Friday, another Taco Internet roundup of the week’s news. Around these parts, I reviewed the Taco Pronto Cafe, a Tex-Mex diner in the Medical District, and El Pueblo Restaurant along East Jefferson Boulevard. The former trades in top-notch handmade flour tortillas, while the latter serves the best carnitas in Dallas. Alice Laussade, the Dallas Observer’s Cheap Bastard answers taco-related questions of considerable import (to me, anyway) in the latest installment of Lengua Sessions. She’ll be serving her pizza creations (mutations?) at Cane Rosso, Monday, Oct. 29, as part of the restaurant’s guest chef series. Proceeds will benefit the National MS Society.
Nearby, Teresa Gubbins shares her thoughts about Tacos & Avocados in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram review. She says the tacos at Jason Boso’s upscale taqueria concept are “generous without being unwieldy.” City of Ate, shows us photos of the Taco Cabana re-design. Central Track takes one for the team, spending an entire day at Fuel City and discovers with gas station tacos comes gas station fashion.
Elsewhere, we have the intersection of Mexican and Southern foodways, Brad Pitt and free tacos for everyone. Continue reading
My family and I found ourselves in one of the oversized, church-comfortable booths at the Cheesecake Factory in the Parks at Arlington shopping mall. It was a choice convenient for my son’s great-grandmother, who was due to be picked up by her son at the adjacent Barnes & Noble after lunch, and aren’t eateries like the Cheesecake Factory about convenience? They’re also about intimidation.
With a menu including more than 200 selections the size of an overgrown First Holy Communion Missal and specialties running the gamut of culinary traditions, I was a bit taken aback by my options. Most menus I order from list less than 20 items. Rarely to they exceed two pages. So, I honed in on something familiar: Tacos. I went with the fish.