This is a taco with a handmade tortilla.
“This is Taco Country!” Those four words—painted on the burnt orange façade of San Antonio’s legendary breakfast taco haunt, Taco Haven—are carried in every Texan’s heart and stomach. They are as fundamental to the Lone Star State’s identity as Friday Night Lights, “Pancho & Lefty,” and Dr Pepper. This is true across our tortilla-based wonderland from Big Bend to the Piney Woods and South Texas to the Metroplex.
I’m not only referring to the fried envelopes whose broken shards litter much of our cultural landscape. No, I mean all the tacos: jaralillos de res, carne asada tacos smothered under a salty tarp of queso fundido at Tacos El Toro Bronco in El Paso; the ground beef-nestling airships that are Ray’s Drive Inn’s puffy tacos; the slivers of paprika-lacquered pork served across Oak Cliff; Brownsville’s many Sunday barbacoa huts; the big-city gals that love dressing up; the just-this-side-of-familiar menu at new regional restaurants; and, yes, breakfast tacos.
As part of the promotion for its 120 Tacos to Eat Before You Die issue, Texas Monthly is hosted an online reader poll to determine which Texas city has the best tacos. (Full disclosure: I’m a contributor to the editorial package, but the poll we’re addressing is all fan voting.) Ultimately, Austin won the top spot with 42 percent of the votes. The Rio Grande Valley scored a 25 percent, and Dallas, took third place with 15 percent.*
That the capital city is in first place doesn’t come as a surprise. Austin has an incredible PR machine fueled by its perceived coolness compared to other Texas cities. Austin has barbecue. Austin has SXSW. It has breakfast tacos. And, with the assistance of New York food writers who have visited Austin during a big festival or lived in the city for a spell, it’s fooled many into believing breakfast tacos are Austin-style. Let’s take as an example an article run last week by Eater Austin claiming Austin as the home of breakfast tacos. The piece by Matthew Sedacca came off as a rush job and evidence of an editorial disconnect. That same day, Eater LA published Meghan McCarron’s excellent profile of Los Angeles breakfast state mecca HomeState. In her piece, McCarron writes “Austin, Texas, is not the home of the breakfast taco, but it is the place where they became an iconic dish. … It took self-conscious, self-mythologizing Austin to turn them into a thing.” While Sedacca at least acknowledged that Texas breakfast tacos have origins across the state, he mentioned only one other city, Corpus Christi. That the city cited wasn’t San Antonio—where breakfast tacos and tacos in general are so ingrained in residents’ DNA that they’re taken for granted until Austin asserts its PR supremacy—ignited a firestorm and a tongue-in-cheek petition to have Sedacca exiled from the Lone Star State. I chuckled at the absurdity of it all. Allow me to explain why. Continue reading
It’s been a week of ups and downs. Taco Trail got the details on Salsa Limon‘s expansion into Dallas directly from the owner and dug the signature taco, El Capitan, a pan-Mexican treat pulling from several regions. However, we had to experience a big bummer in the form of dry pastor (which might or might have not come from a sparkly clean trompo).
Nearby, Rusty Taco beat out Fuel City in the Dallas Morning News‘ taqueria popularity contest. Our compadres at L.A. Taco catch up with Jarrod and Mando from Taco Journalism. A Canadian experiences one of the greatest moments of his life (after the jump). After hitting crypto-Jewish kosher tacos in El Paso, explaining the Navajo taco and visiting the cradle of the breakfast taco, KJZZ in Phoenix wrapped up their excellent taco week with K-Mex. The segments, on the development of tacos on this side of the border, are short and well worth the listen. And before we move on to the roundup, if you’re in Dallas-Fort Worth make sure to RSVP for the taco truck and craft beer festival presented by the North Texas Taco Festival and Four Corners Brewing Company, TacoCon (Cerveza). Admission is free. Continue reading
We’re all over the map this week. Nick filed a two-in-one review of Las Casitas and Ome Calli. He declares the former establishment one of the best taquerias in Oregon and exclaims the deliciousness of corn-flavored dessert (C’mon, America, get with the program!) at Ome Calli. I spent a Sunday lunch at a meat market and found what I expected, damn good meats. You see, carnicerias (meat markets/butcher shops) tend to have better-than-average taco fillings because they’re the source used by surrounding taquerias. Get the barbacoa. Then, get more barbacoa to go.
Elsewhere, the Simpsons go into the lonchera business and OC Weekly is jazzed about an impending taqueria opening.
The Jolly Oyster Kitchen Has A Fried Oyster Taco That Will Haunt Your Dreams (In the Good Way) 〜 Ventura State Beach — L.A. Taco
Restaurant review: Taqueria, London W11 — The Telegraph
Duffy Brewery, Lard Lad, Bumblebee Man Taco Truck NOW OPEN in the Simpsons Theme Park — Eater
2 Weeks Until Taco María Opens — Stick a Fork in It
And don’t forget TacoCon (Cerveza) at Four Corners Brewing Co. This week, the NTTF released its latest in its festival-related loteria card series. Collect them all.
Welcome back to the weekly roundup on The Taco Trail. This week, José visited Joe’s Bakery & Coffee Shop, serving the best breakfast tacos in Austin. Nick spent some time at Los Alambres in Portland and shared the good news coming out of the lonchera: tacos de canasta on Fridays, beginning today.
Back in Texas, CultureMap Dallas shares news about the Taco Dog, a crispy taco inside a hotdog bun available now at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The North Texas Taco Festival folks continue to release their loteria card series in the run up to TacoCon (Cerveza) at Four Corners Brewing Co., Friday, Sept. 6. And then there are the taco-related headlines from across the country, including a kosher taco truck along the border.
Ricardo Diaz and Fam Launch Colonia Taco Lounge Aug 1 — Eater LA
First Look: Agave Taco Bar opens in Washington Park — Cafe Society
Taco Bell dropping kids meals, toys — USA Today
MXDC, vaguely Mexican and utterly forgettable — Washington Post
Kosher taco truck highlights little-known Jewish roots of Spanish (Video of Conversos y Tacos Kosher Gourmet Truck from Your Jewish News/ABC 7) — The Jerusalem Connection Report
Another Friday, another Taco Internet roundup of the week’s news. Around these parts, I reviewed Taco Party—a Mexico City-influenced lonchera serving up a couple of gems, including fried potato tacos—and the fish tacos of new Oak Cliff sports bar PhD – Pour House Dallas, baby sister of the 17-year-old Pour House in Fort Worth, that finally secured its liquor license. While tacos as a whole were pretty good, they were oversauced but wrapped in terrific, locally-produced tortillas. James Scott of DallasVegan.com took time to chat with me about tacos and the third annual Texas State Veggie Fair, a free, outdoor festival he founded in part because even after going vegan, he pined for the State Fair of Texas’ fried food.
Nearby, Dallas Observer food critic Scott Reitz, stops into Monica’s Nueva Cocina and shares how to cut off hangovers at the pass (hint: it involves Velvet Taco’s breakfast tacos and crazy-good elotes). Teresa Gubbins calls out bully Tex-Mex-for-rich-people chain Mi Cocina for suing family-owned Honduran restaurant Mi Cocina Hondureña in Garland. Kim Pierce at the Dallas Morning News sings the praises of queso, while restaurant critic Leslie Brenner calls them awful. You know what’s not awful? The Arizona Taco Festival, going down this weekend. The producers are an inspiration who have lined up a wonderland of tacos, tequila and awesome for two days of required attendance for anyone in the vicinity of Scottsdale. And then there’s this: Continue reading