Get me talking about tacos and see me light up like a child who receives the exact gift he wished for Christmas morning. From their history and folklore to their variability, there is much joy in tacos. In no particular order, these are the tacos that brought me that joy in 2014.
A plate of tacos at Los Torres.
Taco de Barbacoa Roja Estilo Sinaloa at Los Torres Taqueria
Unlike the barbacoa commonly available in Texas, this specialty of Sinaloa (where the Torres family has roots) is a mix of beef and pork, dark red from chiles colorados and fragrant spices. It’s always included in my order at Los Torres, where homey braises and handmade tortillas band together to give Dallas it’s best taqueria. When you visit the little spot in Oak Cliff—and you will—resist the urge to order tortillas de maiz hechas a mano. Go for the thin, nearly translucent handmade flour tortillas characteristic of Sinaloa.
Taco de Barbacoa de Cabeza at Gerardo’s Drive-In
The table-hushing barbacoa at Gerardo’s on Houston’s east side is among the best I’ve had in Texas yet. It’s silky and full, though delicate, and pulled directly from the cows’ head. My visit to Gerardo’s included a kitchen tour from Owner José Luis Lopez—Gerardo is his son—who obviously has pride in his work. He propped the cow heads for photos taken by the crew I was running around Houston with that morning, amigos in food J.C. Reid and Michael Fulmer, cofounders of the Houston Barbecue Festival, and photographer Robert Strickland.
Taco al Pastor at Taco Flats
Austin isn’t a taco al pastor town. It’s strength resides in breakfast tacos and Tex-Mex. So this killer version of the undisputed king of tacos on a housemade tortilla from Taco Flats, a new Burnet Road bar with taco-focused pub grub came as a surprise. Sit at the far end of the bar for a view of the trompo. Continue reading
Filed under Austin, Best of, Dallas, DFW, Fort Worth, Houston, one of the freaking best, Reviews, San Antonio, Tex-Mex, Uptown
Just in case you didn’t know what this truck sold.
Fort Worth has a wealth of loncheras. They’re stationed at the far end of grocery store parking lots, they’re parked alongside convenience stores—wherever they call roll up and set a table with a few chairs. That’s where I found Taqueria Eva’s, a taco truck on the city’s Northside.
An older gentleman sat reading a newspaper in the truck’s cab as a friend and I walked up to the lonchera. As we stepped up to the ordering window, a boy young enough to be the man’s son it open, took our order and immediately set to making our tacos, working the flattop and heating the tortillas like he—a kid—was a seasoned taquero. Continue reading
A few blocks beyond establishments like Ellerbe Fine Foods, the Usual, Spiral Diner and the Bearded Lady in Fort Worth’s Near Southside neighborhood, is a counter-ordering taqueria. The business, Tina’s Cocina, which opened in September 2013, offers no-nonsense tacos. They won’t knock your socks off but they’ll do you right.
The deshebrada—spelled without the “h” at Tina’s, probably to help non-Spanish speakers with the pronunciation—is brisket stewed in tomatoes and pepper until it shreds delicately. While there isn’t much in the way of heat, the taco is a homey, warm job in sweet yellow corn tortillas. Barbacoa is another pleasing nosh. Whereas most taquerias and Mexican restaurants employ beef cheek for their barbacoa, the kitchen at Tina’s uses ribs cooked covered in yucca. Continue reading
Salsa Limón’s rig.
With locations at La Gran Plaza mall and on Berry Street (across from the original Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, for which they get major props), a roving truck and a new restaurant (AKA Salsa Limón Museo), across from the Modern Art Museum, Salsa Limón has built itself a mini empire in Fort Worth. Dallas is next.
During a Salsa Limón stop in the Harwood District for last Saturday, Ramiro Ramirez, co-owner along with sister, Rosalia, confirmed to Taco Trail that Salsa Limón will have a presence at Jason Boso’s Truck Yard on Lower Greenville, a something Teresa Gubbins vaguely mentioned in a Culture Map story. “We’ll be there as often as possible,” he said of the food truck park whose concept includes rotating vendors. Ramirez also mentioned a desire to have a rig station at Southern Methodist University, his alma mater.
How would Salsa Limón’s offerings—tacos, tortas, quesadillas—especially the signature El Capitan, hold up against Torchy’s Tacos’ edible melees and Rusty Taco’s reliable fare? Continue reading
Because one taco festival a year isn’t enough, the North Texas Taco Festival and Four Corners Brewing Company are hosting Dallas-Fort Worth TacoCon (Cerveza), the area’s first celebration of the lonchera, or taco truck. The Friday, September 6, event will be held on the grounds of Four Corners Brewing Company at the foot of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, from 6 p.m.–10 p.m.
And it will truly be regional, with five trucks and trailers from Dallas and Fort Worth. They are: Chile Pepper Grill, Holy Frijole, Ssahm BBQ, Taco Heads, and Taco Party. Each lonchera will be selling their unique take on your favorite food. Four Corners will have its bar space open for beer by the pint, including a one-off special brewed for TacoCon (Cerveza). Of course, there will be live musical entertainment.
There will be plenty of free parking and no admission charge. All you have to do is show up hungry for tacos with beer.
RSVP at www.tacoconcerveza.eventbrite.com, and check out TacoCon (Cerveza)’s Facebook event page.
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
Having fulfilled Mrs. Ralat’s wish to visit the new, jammed Trader Joe’s in Fort Worth, it was my turn for some wish fulfillment. That’s how we ended up at Taquería Melis, a taco joint carved out of a wood-and-corrugated house overlooking the Union Pacific Davidson rail yard and no indoor seating.
From the funhouse-leveled porch could be heard a telenovelas’ typical shouts and pleas. Two picnic tables were sheltered under corrugated metal. A third was near the Vickery Boulevard sidewalk. A stenciled menu on a wide wall and one next to the sliding-glass counter window made me confident we wouldn’t be leaving Taquería Melis hungry. (Hunger isn’t an option when a breakfast burrito is on offer.)
Leaving satisfied was another matter. Continue reading
Not all great taquerías are hovels found in neglected districts. Some shine white and clean in developing enclaves. Case in point: Revolver Taco Lounge, a contemporary Mexican restaurant awash in white with orange accents along West Seventh Street in Fort Worth.
Opened for more than a year, Revolver offers Mexican standards humble in presentation. Here, the Rojas family offers pipian, a green mole with pumpkin seeds, blankets duck breast. A lobster taco is laced with chipotle butter sauce. In the mood for huitlacoche? Revolver’s got it.
The eatery’s tacos come wrapped in house-made tortillas produced from nixtamal (i.e., the hard way) in a kitchen staffed by—stereotypically enough—smock-wearing elderly women, among them owner Gino Rojas’ mother and aunt. Continue reading
A stop on the Fort Worth taco tour a friend and I took ahead of my trip to San Diego, Yucatan Taco Stand Tequila Bar & Grill offers an alternative to Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. However, Fuzzy’s and Yucatan share more in common than what distinguishes them.
Both were founded in Cowtown, both were created by Paul Willis and both use a dubious geographical conceit. Both hedge their bets on seafood tacos. Yet, Fuzzy’s is the one that has reeled in success, crossing beyond the Texas border. Yucatan once boasted area three outposts. The Fort Worth location, the first, is the only one remaining in North Texas. Another Yucatan can be found outside Houston, in The Woodlands.
After placing our order at the front counter (something else Yucatan shares with Fuzzy’s), my companion and I sat at a window booth, watching as employees from the nearby hospital gorged on large nacho platters, loaded, edible Popocatepetls similar to the dish at Fuzzy’s. Continue reading
Operating out of Tarrant County, Scott Wooley’s So-Cal Tacos is a red rig affixed with a surfboard. Like its Dallas counterpart, Rock and Roll Tacos, it’s hard to miss. So-Cal Tacos is also the truck that initiated my quest for primo fish tacos, leading to notable selections across Dallas-Fort Worth and San Diego (more on that in the future).
The San Diego Classic, the signature dish, resembles a Gorton’s fish fillet of childhood but offers bright, acidic licks and a pleasant crunch imparted by panko breading and zippy garnishes of slaw and aioli. The breading is a departure from the standard fish taco enclosed in beer-batter. However, it works. And in three words: I dig it. Continue reading