The Taco Trail began as a way of finding taquerias via DART, but I haven’t sought out tortilla-based eats via public transit for month, as I have been busy with the Texas Monthly taco issue project for more than a year. All of my research has been done via automobile. So it was a pleasant surprise that I came across El Mercadito Taqueria while riding the Green Line recently.
Adjacent to the Burbank Station in an industrial district on the west side of Love Field and next door to Tortilleria El Molino, El Mercadito serves mostly workers looking for quick and cheap meals. Tacos are $2 and are served a few minutes after ordering. There are seven filling options to listed on the menu, among them carnitas, lengua and non-trompo pastor. The day I went, though there was only beef barbacoa, chicharron en salsa verde and fajita were available. The barbacoa, with a touch of pot-roast sweetness, was chopped to the size of fish flakes and sprinkled lightly in the center of the five-inch tortilla. My fajita taco—grilled just shy tough and bearing the freckled char from a flattop—and my chicharron taco—floppy with a searing spice that had me thankful for eating it last lest I wreck my taste buds—came with the same dainty serving sizes. With rice and beans, the trio would make for a filling midday meal.
My hope that the doubled-up corn tortillas were made at Tortilleria El Molino was in vain. “The tortillas are too perfectly round,” said my lunch companion. And they didn’t taste of much of anything at all, I noticed. Whatever line the tortillas came from, it wasn’t the one attached to the tortilla machine next door. The sole employee verified that the small corn discs were store bought jobs, specifically Guerrero brand tortillas.
I can’t blame the taqueria for serving industrial-grade tortillas in light tacos. El Mercadito isn’t in the business of serving the finest exemplars of tacos. It’s a workers’ joint, and in that case it succeeds. Hungry but only have 15 minutes to eat before hunkering down at the shop or airport-associated business? You could do worse than El Mercadito. Word to the wise, though: Credit card stickers on the front door and the card reader at the register are misleading. Payment is in cash only.
El Mercadito Taqueria
8515 Denton Dr.
Dallas, TX 75235