The taquerías and Mexican restaurants west of Hampton Road along West Davis Street in Dallas are, at turns, imposing with blacked-out windows, ramshackle in construction or irresistible in the form of a three-dimensional menu. Tortas El Jacalito, which is beyond Cockrell Road, is of the latter stripe.
From the street, potential customers can read of huaraches (doughy sandal-shaped tortilla dishes excellent for clearing the vegetable drawer), sopes (thick corn masa patties usually topped with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, meat and salsa) and, of course, tacos. Inside, is much of the same, brighter, even. Pop art-style portraits of Golden Age of Mexican Cinema era stars, including leading lady María Félix and clown Cantinflas, best known in the United States for his performance as Passepartout in Around the World in 80 Days, line the eatery’s walls.
As remarkable as El Jacalito’s trappings are, it’s not all that is noteworthy. Continue reading
Add a swinging Saturday to Margarita Monday, Taco Tuesday, Humpday Happy Hour—not to mention the monthly first Tuesday $1 margarita night—at Café Maya Mexican Kitchen and Cantina. Tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 25, owner Sergio Pinto will welcome the Magia Negra Latin Jazz Trio.
The first ivories will be tickled by Magia Negra’s pianist/vocalist Miriam Hernandez at 9 p.m. The last chord will be played at 1 a.m., with bandmates Young Heo on bass and Lamont Taylor on drums.
While you’re in the house, fire it up with a cochnita pibil doused with the off-menu habanero salsa, then cool down with a mango mojito.
Café Maya Mexican Kitchen & Cantina
1001 W. Jefferson Blvd.
The regular tacos at Tepa are terrible. The breakfast tacos, on the other hand, are a fine haul. That’s not to say they’re perfect. The flour tortillas aren’t as spongy as I’d like them to be. However, they are cooked to order. I watched as the taquera placed the dough on to the griddle and flipped the flatbread discs when each began to puff. Shortly thereafter, I was handed a trio that cool at an unusually fast rate, which shouldn’t be a problem. You’re not going to chatter on about the day’s headlines with these babies nearby.
If you’ve developed a taste for the tacos at El Padrino Mexican Grill’s satellite stand, you should know they’ve fallen victim to development. In my Friday, Aug. 3, Dallas Voice profile of restaurant designer and Taco Republic owner Ron Guest, I reported that spot in the Bishop Arts District had received a three-month order to vacate the premises. It’s due to become part of Oak Cliff Mercantile, a dual concept from Sarah Lombardi, daughter of restaurateur Alberto Lombardi. The new tenant will use the eponymous building as its nucleus. The kiosk will anchor a beer garden.
“No one saw this coming,” says Juan Contreras, managing partner of El Padrino’s stand and the 22-year-old full-service original on Jefferson Boulevard—which is not closing. However, Contreras adds, it makes sense. The lease was altered to a month-to-month agreement 10 years ago. Now, it’s a matter of finding another Bishop Arts space. Continue reading
Just off the Jefferson Boulevard taco corridor on Madison Avenue is Taquería La Providencia, a restaurant decorated with baubles, athletic trophies and Mexican folk art. It’s easily missed, but once inside customers find a mixed bag of tacos seasoned with sonorous telenovelas.
Unlike Mexican soap operas, La Providencia offers a surprising twist. 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
La Gaviota Taquería, a tiny restaurant—really, just a covered, unfinished patio with an attached kitchen—abuts an auto mechanic’s repair shop. More spacious is the outdoor covered seating area adjacent to the taquería. To the south is Interstate 30. Across the street in this industrial section of Oak Cliff is the city’s main post office. Only the delivery and dump trucks roaring past and area workers—letter carriers and grease monkeys—notice La Gaviota. It’s almost impossible to see from Beckley Avenue.
Yet, it was from Beckley that La Gaviota (Spanish for seagull) was spotted as my family approached the Commerce Street Bridge. I returned alone ready for garage tacos. Continue reading
It’s a big weekend for lovers of art and culture. When need you breather from the Oak Cliff Film Festival and Craft Cocktails Texas, recharge at some of Taco Trail’s favorite joints. Those in need of a change of pace, drop into the Filipino Fest at the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market. Market director Brandon Castillo tells me there will be a Filipino fusion taco available.
Craft Cocktails Texas
Hermanos Cruz Restaurant, 4525 Maple Ave., 214-586-6778
Up the road from the Stoneleigh Hotel, the cocktail convention’s nerve center, is one of Dallas’ great taco districts. This deserted-looking joint is sparsely decorated, but provides customers with knockout lamb barbacoa, a bit sweet, a bit gamey and 100% delectable. Continue reading
Like the tremulous enthusiasm running up to the premiere of Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and the disappointment that, after credits rolled, threatened to crush the theater filled aghast fans, Taquería Ocampo Restaurant was a minor lift and a major fall.
The fanfare was perhaps a year in length. Each time the missus and I would drive south on Interstate 35E, Taquería Ocampo teased me from the access road beyond the 12th Street exit. Its covered front patio was perpetually empty. A pickup truck or two occasionally were stationed in the parking lot. It teased me. It teased me with a humble façade, neglected picnic tables and corny icicle lights. Continue reading