Breakfast in Texas means tacos, and breakfast has been on my mind a lot lately. So, I’d thought I’d offer my current top 10 places for the proper way to begin a day—anywhere, not just in the Lone Star State.
Taqueria La Salsa Verde
Although its appearance shows otherwise, the taquera working this Richardson gas-station counter claims the taco de cabeza (above) is prepared al vapor. Whatever its preparation, the taco is still excellent. Which is really all that matters to me first thing in the morning. The choriqueso is the cabeza’s equal. 14225 Coit Road, 972-330-0403
The chorizo and cheese at this South Congress shack offers buckshot heat in a large tortilla, giving any road trip a fiery start. 4406 S. Congress Ave., Austin, 512-443-9308 Continue reading
Filed under Austin, Best of, breakfast tacos, DFW, East Dallas, North Texas, Oak Cliff, Plano, Richardson, San Antonio, Tex-Mex, Texas
Courtesy Señor Locos
I’m fascinated by puffy tacos. So fascinated I went to San Antonio to eat my way through their history and plates of them. So, when I learned that a “San Antonio-style Tex-Mex icehouse” was open in Plano, I had to ask the owner if he/she plans to offer the iconic Alamo City dish at the establishment. The restaurant in question is Señor Locos and the owner, David Brian, whom I reached out to via Facebook and email yesterday says. In response to my wall post, he said, “Wow! Yes look for them to hit our Menu in April.”
And I see a lot of promise in the puffy tacos to come. First, Brian, who’s been in the Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurant world since he was 13 years old, has enlisted David Woodward as chef. Woodward resume includes working for Stephan Pyles in Las Vegas. But back to the puffy tacos. Brian says they’ve been tricky, a statement echoed by Tex-Mex masters. “The obstacle has been recreating the recipe, but we’re close to figuring it out.” Guests will have the ability to choose any protein as a puffy taco filling. Of course, there will be salsa options, too. “[Guests] can finish them off with our “Signature” Six Shooter salsas. These are six homemade salsas to dress any taco. In Mexico, a good taco is only great if topped with a good salsa.”
You can be sure as soon as puffy tacos earn a place on Señor Locos’ menu, I’ll be one of the first customers in line, primed not only for the airy, crunchy treats brimming with lettuce, tomato and cheese, but also for the carnitas, the Baja-style fish, the shrimp and what’s being advertised as a ceviche taco.
Señor Locos Tex-Mex Icehouse
701 W. Parker Road, Plano
Within seconds of being seated, our waitress at E Bar Tex Mex boasted, “our taco de carnitas is an award winner.” It won best taco at the Great Taco Run, a Luke’s Locker-hosted race with a parking lot full of taco vendors at the finish line, I was invited to judge.
The taco that day in September had the characteristic roasted flavors and seared edges of standard carnitas: non-traditonally prepared (read: not fried in fat). It was an approximate facsimile to the real thing, much like modern barbacoa (read: not pit smoked). The carnitas was given a shot of cheese, providing a pleasing pungency.
I was at the restaurant, which opened in August from Eddie Cervantes (Primo’s Bar & Grille), to determine if it held up to the honor my fellow judges and I unanimously gave it.
Amid construction, industrial workshops and medical office buildings sits the Taco Pronto Café, a greasy spoon with house-made flour tortillas and specialties like spam and beans. A wood-carved portly, bearded man, tattooed with the years of greetings and messages from customers and adorned with religious paraphernalia stands just inside the entrance. It’s the kind of eating establishment that even when frantically busy is a place where one can take a load off, sip coffee and decompress with comforting tacos, maybe menudo.
Although we didn’t request the stomach soup, my family did order the fresh flour tortillas the waitress recommended. “The corn tortillas are store-bought. Go with the flour.” They transformed what could have been mediocre tacos into meritorious ones packed with stick-to-your-ribs goods, particularly the long list of breakfast tacos served all day.
“Meet and Eat” is an occasional—rare, really—series about adventures and discussions with food writers, chefs, restaurateurs and others orbiting the food world.
The Park Cities/Upper Greenville area has a new breakfast tacos destination: Digg’s Taco Shop. The Hillcrest Avenue restaurant opened across from Southern Methodist University in February 2011. But only recently did the good, comfortable joint that bills itself as influenced by the Austin music and taco scenes begin serving breakfast tacos.
So, why did Digg’s chef Richard Rivera and business partners wait until Sept. 24 to offer breakfast tacos?
San Antonio offers a few culinary amenities in the vicinity of the Stone Oak neighborhood. There’s Hacienda de los Barrios, a gastronomic playground for classic Tex-Mex, for example. Or, in the case of those jonesing for specialty breakfast tacos, there’s Guero’s Taco Diner, a small, corner store in one of the myriad, practically identical adobe-colored shopping centers.
On the way out of town, my friend and driver, Matt, and I stopped into this sleepy restaurant to fill up before the long drive to Dallas.
What we discovered was an operation that could compete with the best of the upmarket breakfast taco joints, including Tacodeli, Good 2 Go Taco and Taco Garage. (I should’ve known something was up when the owner greeted us in front of the restaurant with an honorable, trustworthy handshake.) Continue reading
San Antonio and Tex-Mex are as inseparable as Philadelphia and cheesesteaks. The Alamo City’s influence on our homegrown cuisine is greater than any other Texas municipality. It thrust Tex-Mex into the national spotlight with chili queens, later with the puffy taco and the prized breakfast taco. The latter has been gaining traction in American cities such as New York but remains the wake-up meal of San Antone, where its burst free of the egg-and-one-protein (maybe some cheese) restrictions.
On a recent visit to San Antonio, that variety kept a friend, and I sated during a duo of breakfast stops.
The first, Taco Garage, can be best described as a Tex-Mex joint with a rock-n-roll sensibility slapped with grease lightning housed in a former auto mechanic’s shop. Jones, my amigo and driver, went for the huevos divorciados, a segmented platter of eggs, beans, bacon and green and red salsas he had lauded on the ride from Dallas. I went for a trio of substantial morning munchers.
A version of this post was originally published on MSN Postbox, which until the project was terminated Sept. 1 was my day job. The piece was part of the website’s Campus Guide topic. Now that students have settled into the course load I’d like to share it with Taco Trail readers and recommend several places to get your taco fix near Southern Methodist University.
Pizza fuels many a college town in the Northeast. In Texas, however, higher education finds nourishment in tacos. No other Dallas university campus is as sustained by taco shops and Tex-Mex restaurants than that of Southern Methodist University.
Across from SMU on Hillside Avenue is Digg’s Taco Shop. The fast-casual operation takes inspiration from Austin’s music scene (wall-mounted LPs), but it’s not a dump with sticky counters. The restaurant’s clean orange and white color scheme marks it as acceptable for mom and dad on parents’ day. More than acceptable are the mahi and the carnitas tacos, kicked up a notch with a margarita ice pop. Continue reading
“One Shot” is an occasional series reviewing non-taquerías’ tacos.
The Design District is coming up in the world—the restaurant world. It began with the 2010 opening of the Meddlesome Moth, a highfalutin gastropub from the team behind the Flying Saucer beer-bar chain (Shannon Wynn, Keith Schlabs, Larry Richardson and co.). When Oak opened in December 2011 near the Moth, critics were floored by the fine-dining destination. Taco Stop served its first eponymous offerings in February 2012. The anticipated October opening of Matt McCallister’s restaurant, FT33, will probably top foodies’ Best Of 2012 lists. Also destined for year-end accolades is Nick Badovinus’ Off-Site Kitchen, a casual luncheonette evoking an Alpine beer hall-fast food joint hybrid. Among the menu items is the much ballyhooed Crispy Sloppy Taco. Continue reading
Last weekend, I traveled to San Antonio for some taco research, predominately of the puffy kind. While I was in the Alamo City, I had the opportunity to meet Diana Barrios-Treviño of Los Barrios Mexican Restaurant & La Hacienda de Los Barrios, San Antonio institutions. She was kind enough to show me how puffy tacos are fried at La Hacienda, which I recorded. The video makes for the perfect introduction to a new series on The Taco Trail: Tacolab. Each Tacolab installment will go inside home and restaurant kitchens for demonstrations, hijinks, disasters, etc. There might or might not be lab coats from time to time.
So, without further ado: Continue reading