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
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 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
It wasn’t planned. Our Austin taco stop on the return trip from a Brownsville taco tour weekend was supposed to be El Taco Rico. Unfortunately, it was closed. El Taquito, a fast-casual chain outpost on Riverside Drive, was a backup-backup choice. We were there for pork, specifically al pastor from a trompo, after consuming almost nothing but beef in the Rio Grande Valley. A couple tacos al pastor from some joint off the highway would be all that was needed to hold us over until we got home.
As it turned it out, I had been to El Taquito before. On my first visit, midway through an East Austin taco crawl, Roberto Espinosa tried to warn me about the fried tripe before I bit down on a substance that was more PVC tubing than edible offal.
But it wasn’t time for tripe. It was time to leave behind cow country and the border for a pork preparation. Except it wasn’t. El Taquito was founded in Tamaulipas, a border state where Matamoros and Reynosa are located. The original of the three Central Texas outposts, the official company line claims, was the first to introduce avocado and queso fresco, common taco garnishes on both sides of the Rio Grande, as topping options to Austin.
I had just come a trip where I ate such tacos almost exclusively. It was time for pork. 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
La Guadalupana’s parking lot on a busy Sunday.
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
I don’t recall how I came across St. Tacos. I do know that from the McKinney taqueria’s Facebook photos, I needed to hightail it north on U.S. 75 at my first opportunity. The pictures showed a trompo, a spread of tacos and salsas so delightfully colorful you could read by them, not to mention the painted roads on St. Tacos’ floor.
Would the journey to St. Tacos end in a reward of cochinita so spot-on the achiote and sour oranges mistook the sides of my mouth for boxing gym punching bags? If I made my way to St. Tacos, would I be welcomed with pork sliced off a trompo like a casino card dealer’s flicks cards to the poor suckers with high expectations? Would the pork bear a protective, happy crust from its slow dance on the trompo and bear evidence of chile and citrus wrap? What of the barbacoa? Would it coat my stomach with stale canola oil?
The answer to the latter questions is a resounding “No!” The rest needs some explaining. St. Tacos’ barbacoa is a solid take on the classic preparation. It’s lean without losing body. There is no excess grease. It’s tried-and-true barbacoa through and through. The cochinita gets high marks for being the pugilist I hoped it would be. During my conversation with Eduardo Muensch, St. Tacos’ owner, the Mexico City native revealed how he prepared his cochinita (extended marinating isn’t involved) and where he learned the recipe (Merida, Yucatan). The bistec wasn’t pulverized, a travesty all too common in many area taquerias. Continue reading