The taquerías and Mexican restaurants west of Hampton Road along West Davis Street in Dallas are, at turns, imposing with blacked-out windows, ramshackle in construction or irresistible in the form of a three-dimensional menu. Tortas El Jacalito, which is beyond Cockrell Road, is of the latter stripe.
From the street, potential customers can read of huaraches (doughy sandal-shaped tortilla dishes excellent for clearing the vegetable drawer), sopes (thick corn masa patties usually topped with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, meat and salsa) and, of course, tacos. Inside, is much of the same, brighter, even. Pop art-style portraits of Golden Age of Mexican Cinema era stars, including leading lady María Félix and clown Cantinflas, best known in the United States for his performance as Passepartout in Around the World in 80 Days, line the eatery’s walls.
As remarkable as El Jacalito’s trappings are, it’s not all that is noteworthy.
The nutty lengua was cubed, each piece as big as a child’s wood alphabet block and nearly as coarse to the touch. The carnitas was another bright spot during the meal, though the shredded pork commingled with crackling might as well have been ho-hum. The fajita is acceptable, nothing to laud or disparage—and nowhere near as flat as the cecina—but it had a surprising act to follow: the chicken.
Sweet, tender and saturated, the chicken at El Jacalito was a stunner. Well-cooked chicken tacos aren’t the norm in Dallas and only one approaches blockbuster status (the slow burning tinga de pollo at Tiquicheo), as far as I have found. So, when I encounter a superlative example, I order at least a second. In the case of lunch at El Jacalito, three chicken tacos were consumed throughout the meal. Each one as fantastic as the previous antojito, twisting my palate as much as Cantinflas’ linguistic tomfoolery confound the mind.Tortas El Jacalito 5102 W. Davis St. 214-339-1101