On two consecutive days I found myself in Richardson. And two consecutive days, I left two taquerias with a skip in my step and a smile on my face. The second, La Candelaria—named after the religious holiday marking the end of the Christmas season in Mexico and commemorating the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple—is tucked into a corner of a shopping center anchored by a large supermarket. But I only noticed that on the way out. So fixed I was on getting my mitts around the restaurant’s handmade tortillas on the independent recommendation of two friends.
The L-shaped taqueria was dark, even in the middle of the day, when I walked up to the counter and ordered one of almost everything (they were out of pancita [stomach, guts]).
There was only awful taco that day at La Candelaria—the hongos. The rubbery collection of sliced mushrooms was fresh from an aluminum culinary coffin. I caught the owner clearing tables and asked about the cabeza. The cachete, or cheek, was a tad too fatty for his tastes, but that he liked it all the same. (Of course he did.) If it needed less fat—which it didn’t; the cabeza was the leanest I’ve had in Dallas-Fort Worth—the cheek meat needed more seasoning. A net of iridescent fat would’ve provided. Continue reading
Harry Hines Boulevard has a plethora of Mexican restaurants. And I’ve only begun to undertake my exploration of the area, an extension of the Maple Avenue taqueria corridor, first with The Taco Pronto Cafe. Now, with Tacos House.
The two-room family Mexican restaurant wasn’t on the day’s taco itinerary and, truth be told, was chosen for its festive exterior and the promise of barbacoa de borrego (lamb).
Nearly two years ago, the corner unit at 525 E. Jefferson Boulevard, formerly a furniture store, had windows blocked by craft paper and a sign promising El Pueblo was coming soon. I watched for months as construction progressed until the restaurant was ready to serve customers and—for some unknown reason—waited a few more months to visit the restaurant. I shouldn’t have done that. I had deprived myself of a worthy addition to the east end of Jefferson, one offering marvelous carnitas tacos. Why I waited until now to write a review is anyone’s guess. El Pueblo is one of the few Mexican restaurants I patronize often and have made it a stop on a taco tour of East Jefferson joints, just for its carnitas.
Every bite of the pork fried in lard was crunchy, salty and silken, a sight to behold in soft, bumpy yellow corn tortillas fresh enough to make a destructive oil bath unnecessary. Staring down at the strips of mahogany, sienna and black coursing through the filling it was obvious, here was taco beauty. If only the tortillas were fluffy and irregularly shaped handmade rounds. Continue reading
It only takes one layer—gazing at the Davis Plaza storefront—to realize that El Cebolla Taquería doesn’t exist, contrary to what the red and green letters above the door indicate. And don’t bother asking the pregnant woman who stops peeling tomatillos to take your order what El Cebolla refers to. (My research indicates a soccer player.) She only knows that it should get the feminine article. The restaurant is under new management, she’ll say, after explaining you can sit wherever you’d like.
“We’re really Mi Tierrita, now. Who knows what the old name meant?” Continue reading
Image: Ben E./Yelp
The writing is on the wall at Fito’s #2, a West Davis Street taquería with walls bearing Spanish aphorisms. My favorite translates to “Look at your mother-in-law with the same wonder you look at the far-away stars.” Above the kitchen door: “Love enters through the kitchen.” A mural of lotería cards (resembling a Tarot set but used to play a Bingo-like game) conceals the bathrooms.
It’s all very sweet. It also shouldn’t have been a surprise. The building’s colorful façade was a dead giveaway I ignored. What I couldn’t ignore and what led me to Fito’s #2 was the promise of trompo, pork that takes its name from its shape (a spinning top) and the vertical spit on which it is prepared. Essentially, trompo is traditional pastor, a local rarity. Not many Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants have the space and patience to allow heat to work its quiet art on a large hunk of pork. Continue reading
Today, Marshall Scott Owens (@WestTX_BBQ on Twitter) drops a guest post on the Taco Trail. The Lubbock resident is a financial adviser at a Fortune 500 company. More importantly, he likes “BBQ, tacos, burgers, and brew,” and, he says, “If college football was a food I would eat as much as I could.” You can read Owens’ guest post on Full Custom Gospel BBQ here. Before you do that, though, read his review of Taqueria Jalisco in Lubbock. It might come in handy during the Texas Tech games against Oklahoma University and University of Texas this fall.
I went to Jalisco under the guise of a “romantic” date with my girlfriend, but I was really there to review what I think are the best tacos in Lubbock.
Taqueria Jalisco isn’t your run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex restaurant. The menu tends to offer more than the typical “food smothered in cheese then ran through a pizza oven.” People commonly refer to Jalisco as Tex-Mex, but those people tend to think all Mexican food in Texas is Tex-Mex. Although I have never been to Guadalajara, I would like to think Jalisco lives up to the name, and it is anything but just Tex-Mex. Continue reading
Having fulfilled Mrs. Ralat’s wish to visit the new, jammed Trader Joe’s in Fort Worth, it was my turn for some wish fulfillment. That’s how we ended up at Taquería Melis, a taco joint carved out of a wood-and-corrugated house overlooking the Union Pacific Davidson rail yard and no indoor seating.
From the funhouse-leveled porch could be heard a telenovelas’ typical shouts and pleas. Two picnic tables were sheltered under corrugated metal. A third was near the Vickery Boulevard sidewalk. A stenciled menu on a wide wall and one next to the sliding-glass counter window made me confident we wouldn’t be leaving Taquería Melis hungry. (Hunger isn’t an option when a breakfast burrito is on offer.)
Leaving satisfied was another matter. Continue reading
There are some taquerías I decide to leave unreviewed, even if I frequent them. It’s not because I’d prefer to keep them a secret. Rather, it’s because I frequent them out of convenience, I don’t think I have much to add to the discussion, I’m saving them for a list/some other project or they’re so terrible I can’t stomach typing such vitriol.
Case in point: Cesar’s Tacos. It’s not that the Davis Street restaurant is bad. I patronize the joint regularly, especially when my in-laws visit. As a local chain, Cesar’s Tacos would be an ideal subject of a larger story. There comes a moment, though, when your original plan is scuttled and things head south. Continue reading
On my way to the airport for a San Diego-bound flight—and unsure about what gastronomic pitfalls or crescendos awaited me in SoCal—I stopped for tacos at one of two Doña Lencha restaurants in Irving.
The Story Road location anchors one corner of a strip mall with a large dining room, but I wasn’t there for a sit-down meal. So, I got tacos needed to gird me through my ride on Spirit Airlines as a to-go order.
To that end, I selected four gratifying tacos. So gratifying that the bizarre ending to my time there won’t deter me from returning. Inconspicuously. Continue reading
Like the tremulous enthusiasm running up to the premiere of Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and the disappointment that, after credits rolled, threatened to crush the theater filled aghast fans, Taquería Ocampo Restaurant was a minor lift and a major fall.
The fanfare was perhaps a year in length. Each time the missus and I would drive south on Interstate 35E, Taquería Ocampo teased me from the access road beyond the 12th Street exit. Its covered front patio was perpetually empty. A pickup truck or two occasionally were stationed in the parking lot. It teased me. It teased me with a humble façade, neglected picnic tables and corny icicle lights. Continue reading