Dallas’ best potato and egg taco is found along Singleton Avenue, near the Trinity Groves. And I’m concerned it’s not long for this world. Until, a friend and I decided to try our luck with lunch at Taquería La Chilanga, the red, yellow, orange and white freestanding taquería at the foot of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, I’d not seen it open for business for months. I had thought it had already fallen victim to the restaurant concepts taking up the development led by uber-restaurateur Phil Romano and partners, at the eatery’s doorstep.
What we found wasn’t a gem but a solid operation making its own corn and flour tortillas by hand, a taquería that deserves constant business.
Lunch was every taco available—a total of seven—on tortillas de maiz hechas a mano split between two customers. We were the only customers. 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.
Mike Karns has it made. In one corner—in one building, actually—across from the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science and a Frisbee’s throw from Klyde Warren Park, The head of Firebird Restaurant Group has three restaurants for three demographics. Anchoring the property is the de facto flagship outpost of the El Fenix chain. Next door, the second Meso Maya—the first is on Preston—offers chef Nico Sanchez’s gourmet Mexican fare for a chic set. Behind that, walk-up Taquería La Ventana serves classic tacos in tortillas made from nixtamal, for those who might only have enough time for a nosh at one of its outdoor tables. And for that, it’s perfect. Aside from food trucks, you’d be hard pressed to find such convenient and adequate grub at the border of Uptown and Downtown. Even if La Ventana’s menu contains offensive language (more on that later). Continue reading
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.
Mark Miller is to New Mexico’s cuisine what Stephan Pyles is to Texas foodways. Each is a big shot in the Southwestern cuisine movement that swept the country in the 1980s and ’90s. Pyles opened his latest restaurant, Stampede 66, in early November. This summer, UrbanRio Cantina & Grill, part of part of an entertainment and culinary complex in the Old Downtown Plano Ice House, seated its first guests within sight of the DART Downtown Plano station.
In the run up to Urban Rio’s opening, Miller was brought in as the consulting chef by owners Nathan and Bonnie Shea, who also own the Urban Crust pizzeria in Downtown Plano. His involvement in what was being billed as “Next Mex” had me excited. Recipes in Miller’s cookbook Tacos, are some of my family’s favorite and are in regular rotation at Casa Ralat. His The Great Chile Book is a concise, reference book. Then there was the fact that I could take light rail to its doorstep. Man, I was down right jazzed for a seat in its contemporary Rio Grande Valley-inspired interior.
So off I went from Dallas to Plano to meet a friend and hit up a couple of hole-in-the-wall taquerías before capping our day exploring a suburban taco scene at a well-received newcomer nurtured by a renowned chef.
Nearly two years ago, the corner unit at 525 E. Jefferson Boulevard, formerly a furniture store, had windows blocked by craft paper and a sign promising El Pueblo was coming soon. I watched for months as construction progressed until the restaurant was ready to serve customers and—for some unknown reason—waited a few more months to visit the restaurant. I shouldn’t have done that. I had deprived myself of a worthy addition to the east end of Jefferson, one offering marvelous carnitas tacos. Why I waited until now to write a review is anyone’s guess. El Pueblo is one of the few Mexican restaurants I patronize often and have made it a stop on a taco tour of East Jefferson joints, just for its carnitas.
Every bite of the pork fried in lard was crunchy, salty and silken, a sight to behold in soft, bumpy yellow corn tortillas fresh enough to make a destructive oil bath unnecessary. Staring down at the strips of mahogany, sienna and black coursing through the filling it was obvious, here was taco beauty. If only the tortillas were fluffy and irregularly shaped handmade rounds. Continue reading
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
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
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