Across from Jimmy’s Food Store, Urbano Café and Spiceman’s FM 1410 in East Dallas but probably using nothing that graces the shelves of those iconic Dallas food businesses in a La Ranchera Mexican Super Market is Taqueria La Marias. The taco counter, beyond the cash register to the left of the grocery’s front door, trades in the standard filling options as well as a few guisados resting in steam trays behind a sneeze guard. Non-trompo pastor and fajita are also on offer, although those take a while longer to serve as they’re cooked to order. Skip them. Go for the guisados. They’re on the left side.
The best of which is the guisado rojo de res, pieces of tender, stratiform pieces of beef no bigger than Knorr bouillon cubes in a mellow coral red sauce. It was gone too soon. The pollo y calabaza, chicken and squash in a lacey yellow sauce, also disappeared quickly, if only to get rid of the dry poultry and mushy vegetable. A shot of salsa verde helped but there was nothing that could rehydrate that bird.
Better was the carnitas, mild tan-colored threads ending in knobs of pork with crispy scrapes. The filling, like all others, was resting in the bumpy, flavor-neutral corn tortillas pulled from the market’s shelves. If the tortillas can’t be incredible, they might as well get out of the way. Fatty, wet barbacoa nestled in the fourth taco that got a kick from peppy salsa roja. Neither wowed me to a halt, but at least they weren’t regret-inducing parcels.
Looking back, I wished I had also ordered the chicharrónes en salsa verde. When the taquera lifted the lid of the pan bearing it while showing us what was available, I gazed at squiggly cuts of pork skin bathed in a textured, tempting green bath. If ever I find myself along that stretch of Bryan Street near Fitzhugh (where the store’s entrance is located) with only an appetite for a few, quick noshes of my favorite food, I’ll be sure to stop in to Las Marias long enough to sit at one of the long tables covered in rooster-and-sunflower-print oil cloth. They’re next to the electronic games of chance that gobble up poor schmucks’ payday haul. At least I know exactly what I’ll be getting.Taqueria Las Marias (La Ranchera Super Market #2) 4823 Bryan St. Dallas, TX 75204 214-821-3414