It wasn’t planned. Our Austin taco stop on the return trip from a Brownsville taco tour weekend was supposed to be El Taco Rico. Unfortunately, it was closed. El Taquito, a fast-casual chain outpost on Riverside Drive, was a backup-backup choice. We were there for pork, specifically al pastor from a trompo, after consuming almost nothing but beef in the Rio Grande Valley. A couple tacos al pastor from some joint off the highway would be all that was needed to hold us over until we got home.
As it turned it out, I had been to El Taquito before. On my first visit, midway through an East Austin taco crawl, Roberto Espinosa tried to warn me about the fried tripe before I bit down on a substance that was more PVC tubing than edible offal.
But it wasn’t time for tripe. It was time to leave behind cow country and the border for a pork preparation. Except it wasn’t. El Taquito was founded in Tamaulipas, a border state where Matamoros and Reynosa are located. The original of the three Central Texas outposts, the official company line claims, was the first to introduce avocado and queso fresco, common taco garnishes on both sides of the Rio Grande, as topping options to Austin.
I had just come a trip where I ate such tacos almost exclusively. It was time for pork. Continue reading
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.
This past Saturday, Feb. 23, three other men and I—with at least one casualty to National Margarita Day—set off for Fort Worth and its tacos. Our first stop was the Swiss Pastry Shop, a local institution opened in 1973 and owned and operated by Hans Peter Muller, son of the founder. Servers were scurrying about slammed after the first of two days of Cowtown races. Racers and their friends and families were grubbing down on hearty breakfast and lunch fare, while those waiting for a table were ogling the pastry cases, where Hans’ specialties including Swinkies and the Black Forest Cake waited for the likes us.
We were there for a day of tacos, among them the dessert tacos that I joked on Twitter Hans should create. A month later, the several of cajeta cheesecake cream, applewood-smoked bacon and candied jalapeños in a chocolate-dipped almond praline shell gems were ready. Rich and messy, kicking and sweet, the dessert tacos were as far from the Klondike Choco Taco as you could get—and fantasti! I had two at the shop, some mind-quieting flourless Black Forest Cake, as well as a Fort Worth Cheese Steak sandwich—sliced and grilled smoked ribeye with Hatch chiles and queso blanco—with three dessert tacos to go. Some chorizo and egg breakfast taco in a hand-rolled flour tortilla was thrown in for good measure. It was 11 a.m. Roadrunner Eats, Robert and Hans were off.
From the Swiss Pastry Shop, we set off for Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, another Fort Worth landmark and the reason I went crosstown. Roadrunner Eats wanted my take on the food there. Food he doesn’t much care for, to put it politely. The sliver of enchilada I had was terrible. Its red chile sauce tasted like it had turned. The crispy taco with a shell fried earlier that day was decent but a few more minutes and the soggy bottom would’ve succumbed to weight of the mild beef and sweet tomato salsa wedged inside the yellow envelope. Continue reading
I’ll never be cool. Cool people keep their cool. Eating great tacos makes me want to shout and dance. The selection at the Tacos La Banqueta in Arlington, the largest of the area chain’s outposts (two locations in Dallas, one recently opened in Fort Worth) make keeping my composure impossible.
All five tacos my wife and I enjoyed were clean—except when they weren’t supposed to be, in the case of the cabeza, which had pulling beef and nuggets of fat clinging to the meat kept tidy within bantam oil-free tortillas and no sign of cracking under the pressure of its filling. Continue reading
There are some taquerías I decide to leave unreviewed, even if I frequent them. It’s not because I’d prefer to keep them a secret. Rather, it’s because I frequent them out of convenience, I don’t think I have much to add to the discussion, I’m saving them for a list/some other project or they’re so terrible I can’t stomach typing such vitriol.
Case in point: Cesar’s Tacos. It’s not that the Davis Street restaurant is bad. I patronize the joint regularly, especially when my in-laws visit. As a local chain, Cesar’s Tacos would be an ideal subject of a larger story. There comes a moment, though, when your original plan is scuttled and things head south. Continue reading
I had originally wanted to post a review of one of the fish taco shacks I patronized during my week in San Diego. However, as impressive and disastrous as the local specialties were, what became apparent while I was in SoCal for my best friend’s wedding was my how formidable is my love of Tex-Mex, especially when it comes to queso and breakfast tacos. My craving for the former was particularly shocking. I’ve not experienced those feelings until visiting San Diego. Not new to me was the gloomy nebula produced by a dearth of breakfast tacos.
So, one morning, the groom and I conducted an Internet search for the Tex-Mex beauty. The one result we found had so many negative reviews, my buddy immediately nixed the possibility of eating there. Another opportunity didn’t present itself until after the wedding and my responsibilities as the best man had ended. It came on the day of my departure for Dallas at the San Diego International Airport. Continue reading
There is a La Paisanita on Maple Avenue and one at the intersection of Inwood Road and Maple. Another (my favorite) is tucked inside a gas station on the northwest corner of Park Lane and Greenville Avenue. The newest outpost of the La Paisanita taquería chain opened in Oak Cliff several months ago in a former laundromat and receives a steady stream, bordering on a trickle, of customer traffic. It’s the second La Paisanita on Davis. The other is at Ravinia Drive, among a smattering of other taco joints, ones I’ll get to in time.
Eager to see—and taste—how the most recent location stacked up against the others, my wife and I stepped in shortly after our move to Oak Cliff. Continue reading