When I interviewed La Nueva Fresh & Hot Tortilleria owner Gloria Vazquez for my D Magazine Best Tacos in Dallas feature, I learned that not only has her family been making tortillas since the late 1960s in their home state of Zacatacas, Mexico, but that between she and her siblings the Vazquez clan owns and operates several Dallas-area tortilla factories.
In an email conversation, Vazquez said, “My father, Arcenio Vazquez Muñoz, opened the first Tortilleria in Rio Grande, Zacatecas, in 1968. Currently in Rio Grande there are six locations of which I am the owner of one, they are all still operating the same way they did when my father first opened them. There are [other] locations in the metroplex owned by my two brothers, which have been opened for nine years.” Aside from the Webb Chapel branch, there is a La Nueva Fresh & Hot in Lewisville but what of the other Vasquez family shops? Some of them do business under the name La Nueva Puntada.
Last weekend, my family and I stopped at the Duncanville location after a camping trip. We were filled with excitement and high expectation, and hungry. Like La Nueva Fresh & Hot, the La Nueva Puntada on Camp Wisdom Road isn’t a restaurant, which is contrary to what the website photo gallery led me to believe. Had junior not been drowsy and had our car not been stuffed with camping equipment, we would’ve eaten our tacos in the comfort of it. Instead we took the food home. That wasn’t the best decision. By the time we got home and opened our Styrofoam to-go containers, the tacos had cooled some.
The barbacoa de borrego (lamb barbacoa) was zapped of juices and lacked gaminess. The cachete de res (beef cheek) was an improved but not by much. A generous pour of kicking salsa roja helped, too. The salsa verde salvaged the lengua.
The asado with nopalitos and pork was an adequate guiso. It was straightforward and worthy of a second one.
The guisado de chicharron was among the better I’ve eaten in DFW, not too limp and retaining some of the salty crackling flavor typical of pork rinds. My favorite was the rajas con queso, a firm mass of poblanos and asadero cheese. While it wasn’t too spicy it did have some of the heat and smokiness I expect from rajas. The cheese added a pleasant saltiness.
La Nueva Puntada’s tortillas, made from Maseca and run through a machine that run the length of the open kitchen behind the counter were good. That much is true. However, they weren’t as spongy as those produce by its sister near Bachman Lake. When they cooled, the tortillas also became gummy.The generally poor quality of the tacos might be due to how late in the afternoon we had ordered them and that we had transported them in an air-conditioned car to our house approximately 20 minutes away.
There is also the business’ pedigree. I don’t think it’s unfair to expect more from other members of the Vazquez family. They have a solid reputation and decades of mastery. Perhaps I caught them on a bad day, a bad time. Thankfully, there are other locations. There’s even one near me in Oak Cliff. Will it also stock milk, eggs, cheeses, house-made salsas as well as tortillas de nopales? Will there be a hot box holding flour tortillas? And what about the bags of Tapatio-flavorited Doritos—are there more at the other branches? More importantly, will the Oak Cliff store be better?
After being unable to wait to find out, I went the next day. It’s excellent. On the weekends, customers can order irridiscent carnitas, frayed knots of fried pork at turns crunchy and smooth. The borrego is gamey. The rajas con queso just a little bit spicier. The lengua needed not augmenting. The guisado rojo was fantastic. But the taco that earned the status of excellence was the unassuming frijoles can queso. The simple envelope of fresh corn tortillas bearing smoky refried beans and salty asadero was the best taco I’ve in a while.La Nueva Puntada 417 E. Camp Wisdom Road, Duncanville 972-709-1220 3818 W. Clarendon Dr. 214-333-0607