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
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.
The yellow, peach and blue restaurant at Jefferson Boulevard and Tyler Street isn’t shy about advertising its daily specials, whether on the windows or a sidewalk board on which the deals are scrawled in permanent marker. Prominent among the announcements is that the flour and corn tortillas are made by hand—not in a press. By hand.
“Platters only,” the woman explained as she patted her hands back and forth demonstrating the method used to shape the tortillas. Unfortunately, I hadn’t ordered any entrées and she told me this nugget of critical information as I was paying my bill.
I knew I should’ve ordered the rajas con queso, I thought to myself. Better yet, another of the house specialties, like quail, grilled or fried with optional salsa roja. The pozole, a hominy stew believed to have originated in Michoacán state, the homeland of Mi Fondita’s owners, was also tempting.
It only takes one layer—gazing at the Davis Plaza storefront—to realize that El Cebolla Taquería doesn’t exist, contrary to what the red and green letters above the door indicate. And don’t bother asking the pregnant woman who stops peeling tomatillos to take your order what El Cebolla refers to. (My research indicates a soccer player.) She only knows that it should get the feminine article. The restaurant is under new management, she’ll say, after explaining you can sit wherever you’d like.
“We’re really Mi Tierrita, now. Who knows what the old name meant?” Continue reading
Image: Ben E./Yelp
The writing is on the wall at Fito’s #2, a West Davis Street taquería with walls bearing Spanish aphorisms. My favorite translates to “Look at your mother-in-law with the same wonder you look at the far-away stars.” Above the kitchen door: “Love enters through the kitchen.” A mural of lotería cards (resembling a Tarot set but used to play a Bingo-like game) conceals the bathrooms.
It’s all very sweet. It also shouldn’t have been a surprise. The building’s colorful façade was a dead giveaway I ignored. What I couldn’t ignore and what led me to Fito’s #2 was the promise of trompo, pork that takes its name from its shape (a spinning top) and the vertical spit on which it is prepared. Essentially, trompo is traditional pastor, a local rarity. Not many Dallas-Fort Worth restaurants have the space and patience to allow heat to work its quiet art on a large hunk of pork. 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
Today, Marshall Scott Owens (@WestTX_BBQ on Twitter) drops a guest post on the Taco Trail. The Lubbock resident is a financial adviser at a Fortune 500 company. More importantly, he likes “BBQ, tacos, burgers, and brew,” and, he says, “If college football was a food I would eat as much as I could.” You can read Owens’ guest post on Full Custom Gospel BBQ here. Before you do that, though, read his review of Taqueria Jalisco in Lubbock. It might come in handy during the Texas Tech games against Oklahoma University and University of Texas this fall.
I went to Jalisco under the guise of a “romantic” date with my girlfriend, but I was really there to review what I think are the best tacos in Lubbock.
Taqueria Jalisco isn’t your run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex restaurant. The menu tends to offer more than the typical “food smothered in cheese then ran through a pizza oven.” People commonly refer to Jalisco as Tex-Mex, but those people tend to think all Mexican food in Texas is Tex-Mex. Although I have never been to Guadalajara, I would like to think Jalisco lives up to the name, and it is anything but just Tex-Mex. Continue reading
I’ll never be cool. Cool people keep their cool. Eating great tacos makes me want to shout and dance. The selection at the Tacos La Banqueta in Arlington, the largest of the area chain’s outposts (two locations in Dallas, one recently opened in Fort Worth) make keeping my composure impossible.
All five tacos my wife and I enjoyed were clean—except when they weren’t supposed to be, in the case of the cabeza, which had pulling beef and nuggets of fat clinging to the meat kept tidy within bantam oil-free tortillas and no sign of cracking under the pressure of its filling. 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