Morales Restaurant specializes in Huastecan food.
Increasingly I see all antojitos and vitamin T comidas (tacos, tamales, tortas, huaraches, etc.) as being in this website’s wheelhouse. This is especially true when a restaurant makes something from scratch. Perhaps a taco spot serves mass-produced tortillas for its tacos but reserves handmade masa for tlayduas. The tacos could be outstanding while the tlayudas send one reeling into another dimension. Tacos are on the menus of most Mexican eating establishments but when it comes to a particular restaurant, perhaps they do something killer or so regionally specific an order of that signature item along with tacos, in my case, is the appropriate order. It should be the order.
Morales Restaurant in Oak Cliff’s Dells District is such a place. The rare spot in the Dallas area specializing in the food of La Huasteca, a region of Mexico encompassing parts of San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, Hildago, among other Mexican states and named for the indigenous group the Huastec, Morales came recommended by Obed Manuel, occasional contributor to the Taco Trail. His father hails from La Huasteca and swears by Morales Restaurant. The small eatery, about six tables in a sparse, narrow front dining room with two more rooms in the rear, is in the same commercial strip as Hardeman’s BBQ and my barber shop. It also shares a wall with another Mexican joint, Fito’s #3, an outpost of the local chain specializing in the food of Monterrey, Mexico (far from La Huasteca).
Morales’ specialty is zacahuil, a banana leaf-wrapped tamal prepared for celebrations—weddings, baptisms, quinceñeras—because they feed large parties. How is a tamal supposed to serve 10, 20, 50 people? When the tamal in question is a behemoth that can reach up to 15 feet or longer. It’s a gold mine of a food. The serving I enjoyed was spooned from the larger tamal and came packed with shredded pork cooked in a stew of chile colorado chunky with pearls of fragrant masa. The aroma of banana leaf lingered warmly, as did the spice, which was constant but not crippling. For this alone Morales is remarkable.
But it’s more than a bastion for such a regional dish and kin like bocoles and migadas. Continue reading
Come National Taco Day, Friday, you’ll be required to eat a plethora of tacos. You’ll be overwhelmed with choices. So, we thought we’d offer a few choices. The following selections were compiled with the help of fellow taco enthusiasts across the United States. If your city is mentioned below, these joints are where you grab a taco or nine, especially if you haven’t visited it. Adventure is an integral component of the enjoyment of tacos.
Colonia Taco Lounge, 13030 E. Valley Blvd., La Puente, CA 91746, 626-363-4691, Facebook. Coliflor with a caper salsa on tortillas molded by ex-Bouchon head baker’s hands (te la puedes imaginar), taco de chayote with calabacita succotash, pork and kabocha squash pumpkin carnitas with a salsa seca
Diablo Taco, 3129 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026, 323-666-4666, Facebook, Twitter, www.diablotaco.com. Coca-Cola asada, caramelized onions and white bacon beans (pictured) or the maple-fried chicken and kale.
El Faisan y El Venado, 231 N. Ave. 50, Los Angeles, CA 90042, 323-257-1770. Escabeche Oriental Continue reading
Street tacos come in a plethora of forms: pastor/trompo, guisados, chapulines, etc. While I’ve enjoyed those, I have been unable to sample until National Taco Day a hard-to-find variety in Dallas: tacos al vapor. These tacos are steamed treats sometimes listed as tacos de canasta (basket, referring to the vessel in which they are kept warm and steamed) and tacos sudado (sweated). But at the two taquerías I visited last Thursday, they were labeled as al vapor. Along for the ride was Alex Flores, the graphic whiz who gives this blog its visual appeal.
The tacos al vapor at Taco Rico on Clarendon are priced at a dollar a piece and available by cash only. We didn’t know what to expect. For that price, we could easily be presented with cold, gummy envelopes hiding sad fillings. What we received was a plate of iridescent pockets containing deshebrada de pollo, potato and frijol, each of which could be piled with cabbage and chopped tomatoes. Continue reading
Happy National Taco Day. Great news: Dallas is finally getting a proper taco festival. The North Texas Taco Festival will be a celebration of our area’s taco diversity held in conjunction with the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and presented by the Taco Trail and Entrée Dallas.
The event will host more than 10 taquerías, restaurants and food trucks, serving some of Dallas-Fort Worth’s favorite tacos. Among the vendors offering classic and unique tacos will be Cafeteria y Loncheria El Padrino, Rusty Taco, Rock and Roll Tacos and So-Cal Tacos. Those curious about Filipino tacos will amble into Zen Bistro & Dessert Bar.
During an Iron Chef-style competition, Dallas chefs, including Brian C. Luscher (The Grape Restaurant), will go tortilla to tortilla for the honor of best taco, as judged by a panel of local writers and discerning taco enthusiasts.
And that’s only the beginning. More exciting announcements will be made leading up to the festival.
The North Texas Taco Festival will be held Saturday, April 20, 2013, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., on the 2800 block of Main Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Crowdus Street, alongside the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and its 40 vendors.
For questions and sponsorship or vendor inquiries, please contact José Ralat-Maldonado at 917-854-2917 or ralatMaldonado AT Gmail dot Com or Brandon Castillo at 972-898-9227 or Brandon AT DeepEllumMarket dot com. Visit www.northtexastacofestival.com for up-to-date information.
Now, go eat some tacos.
A different sort of taco trail is taking to Dallas on Sunday, Sept. 30. The Great Taco Run will give the city another race with another hook, yes, but can you think of anything more rewarding after giving it your all along the streets of the Big D than tacos? I can’t.
Presented by area sports store Luke’s Locker and benefiting the Trinity Strand and Katy Trail, the race will be separated into 5K, 10K and 10-mile lengths, all finishing at the Runners Village at Museum Way and Victory Avenue, near the American Airlines Center, where several taco vendors will be serving up their signature fare beginning at 8:30 a.m. Participants will be able to vote for their favorite taco vendor while a panel of judges will choose theirs. The winners will be announced on National Taco Day, Thursday, Oct. 4. Continue reading
That stud muffin at right is Chef Joey Crowell, a friend who surprised me yesterday when he gave me a Ranch Hand taco from Good 2 Go Taco. I was attempting to get some work done before my gluttonous day.
“It’s a Frito pie in a tortilla,” he proudly explained. Indeed, that’s exactly what the combination of asparagus, potato, spinach, tortilla strips, rice, huevos rancheros and cheese (kicked up with bonus chorizo) went down tasting. Continue reading
While its origins are steeped in as much mystery as the provenance of that “pork” inside the roach-coach taco, National Taco Day (Tuesday, Oct. 4) is just a cheap opportunity for Mexican and Tex-Mex eateries to make an extra buck, much like Christmas and Coke, albeit one that makes for a great excuse to eat the world’s most perfect and versatile comestible.
I reached out to a slew of area taco joints in an effort to collect the information in one place. What I found out is below. Continue reading