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Morales Restaurant

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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

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Filed under Dallas, National Taco Day, Oak Cliff, Reviews, Texas

First Bite: El Come Taco

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I got the call a couple hours before opening time. Luis Villalva, who had previously worked at Revolver Taco Lounge in Fort Worth and most recently worked with Taco Party (he was the guy in the soccer jersey manning the trompo at TacoCon), was finally ready to serve tacos at his own place, El Come [Koh-meh] Taco  on Fitzhugh Avenue. “José, it’s Luis. We open El Come Taco at 5 p.m. Come eat some tacos,” was the voicemail message. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it for first service. But I made it for lunch the next day—the day I had waited for since Villalva clued me into his plan at TacoCon. And it was worth it.

El Come Taco translates to He Eats Taco, and, for the time being, tacos are all you can eat when you visit the taqueria. Villalva did tell me huaraches, quesadillas and other antojitos would join the slate eventually. Nevertheless, the tacos are enough. They’re also surprising. Not just because there are off-menu options but because Villalva and staff have brought a little of their former Mexico City operation, Transito, to East Dallas. Continue reading

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Filed under Dallas, DFW, East Dallas, first bite, Reviews, Texas

Tortas El Jacalito

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

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Filed under Dallas, DFW, North Texas, Oak Cliff, Reviews, Texas

Doña Lencha Restaurant and Taquería #1

On my way to the airport for a San Diego-bound flight—and unsure about what gastronomic pitfalls or crescendos awaited me in SoCal—I stopped for tacos at one of two Doña Lencha restaurants in Irving.

The Story Road location anchors one corner of a strip mall with a large dining room, but I wasn’t there for a sit-down meal. So, I got tacos needed to gird me through my ride on Spirit Airlines as a to-go order.

To that end, I selected four gratifying tacos. So gratifying that the bizarre ending to my time there won’t deter me from returning. Inconspicuously. Continue reading

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Filed under DFW, Irving, one of the freaking best, Reviews