It’s safe to return to the mall. I can make that statement after visiting NorthPark Center during the peak Christmas shopping season and again right before New Year’s Eve. It was then, on a trip with my son to see the Trains at NorthPark, that I stumbled by La Paloma Taquería.
Opened since Sunday, Dec. 18, this La Paloma is the newest location of the area chain and not far from the Walnut Hill location I reviewed in December 2010. What makes the NorthPark store distinct is its location in the former Orange Cup space. It’s sandwiched between Neiman Marcus and American Apparel in the frou-frou section of the mall, far from the food court and the disastrous cheeseburger taco at Tin Star Taco Bar. Helluva place to find $1.50 taco, never mind respectable ones.
The barbacoa was a fantastic selection, moist, messy actually, but heads and tails above the dehydrated twine of the carnitas. What flavor the carnitas harbored was imparted by the chorizo’s released oil released pooled at the bottom of the container. The chorizo itself was pleasantly earthy and, happily, not cooked to the consistency of gravel. It was also unexpected. I had ordered lengua. The pastor lacked zip but packed the tortilla in thin, wide strips, a telltale sign of time on a trompo.
In another taco, 1/4” strips of nopal (cactus pad) rested atop salty queso blanco. It was a pleasant surprise, given that almost everywhere a nopal taco is a slimy lot, excellent at inducing gag reflexes.
Supporting the tacos, which include bistek, chicken and fish, is a menu that of huaraches, tortas, chilaquiles and sopes. Chocoflan and tres leches cake help fill the dessert options.
What is absent, however, is a list of breakfast tacos. In its place, are breakfast burritos, suspicious carpetbaggers. This didn’t stop me from ordering a breakfast taco on a morning visit. The chorizo, egg and cheese taco was light on the grease with moist eggs and cheese that delicately kept the filling in place.
What binds La Paloma Taquería to its place is odd, yes, but it seems to be working. During my visits, customers couldn’t have been more varied. Ladies who lunch, mall employees, the occasional American Apparel refugee and a smattering of young families sat in white chairs at white tables and smiled at the food before them.
It just goes to show you: It doesn’t matter where it’s served, the taco unites.
8687 N. Central Expressway, Ste. 2202