I have a soft spot in my heart (and stomach) for food typical of Monterrey, the capital of border state Nuevo Leon. From the city—the tech center of Mexico and the country’s third largest city—come tacos de trompo and hamburguesas estilo monterrey, as well as cabrito and carne asada. Both of the former dishes are plentiful in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas thanks to a large Monterreyan population. Businesses specializing in them are distinguished by painted representations of trompos (the vertical spits on which pork for tacos de trompos are cooked) and of the Cerro de la Silla, the latter being Monterrey’s geographic landmark. The hamburger is the result of proximity to the United States, a class of cultures that heaps pork, avocado, and whatever else the cook desires, on top of a beef patty. The taco de trompo are related to Mexico City’s iconic antojito, the taco al pastor.
Whereas the pork for tacos al pastor is marinated with some combination of chiles, achiote and sour oranges, the meat for tacos de trompo is seasoned with paprika, giving the meat a smokier, spicier flavor. The tacos can also be greasier. After the taquero slices the meat from the trompo, he places it on corn tortillas that have been warming up on a well-oiled flattop griddle. He then flips the taco meat side down and lets the meat char and adhere to the tortilla before being served. They’re exquisite. Continue reading
Filed under Florida, Reviews
Everything is better with a taco, especially the young but formidable Oak Cliff Film Festival, which calls the Texas Theatre home. Within tortilla-flinging distance (and all over the neighborhood) of the historic movie house are scads of notable taquerias and restaurants. Once again, we offer our recommendations.
Los Torres Taqueria, 1322 W. Clarendon Dr., 214-946-3770
This mom-and-pop shop is something special. It’s the only Dallas restaurant specializing in Sinaloan-style meat preparations, and where you go when you want excellent tacos. The Torres family has never failed when it comes to serving northern Mexican dishes like cinnamon-spiked birria de chivo, luscious cabeza (a mix of beef cheek and tongue) and barbacoa roja estilo Sinaloa, which has pork and beef in every exquisite bite. True to the state of origin, order your tacos in handmade flour tortillas. But if you insist, at least request the handmade corn tortillas.
La Tacoqueta, 2324 W. Clarendon Dr., Ste. 100, 214-943-9991
On a strip of Clarendon dominated by auto shops and faded concrete, cheekily named La Tacoqueta is a sepia, wood and tile haven offering hit-the-spot tacos of carne asada, chicken and al pastor.Alas, there is no spit. The breakfast tacos come with handmade tortillas but others don’t. The service is always on point and the salsa is always fiery.
Fito’s Tacos de Trompo #2, 3113 W. Davis St.
This joint is hard to miss. Just look for the painting of Monterrey’s geographic landmark, the Serro de la Silla mountain, and the restaurant’s name is big red letters. Order the signature menu item, tacos de trompo—the northern Mexican cousin of tacos al pastor seasoned with paprika, not a chile, achiote and citrus adobo, and roasted on the vertical spit called, you guessed it, a trompo. But bring cash. Fito’s doesn’t accept plastic.
I love Lazaranda‘s sweet, rice-and-beans layered lobster taco, an homage to the resort town of Rosarito Beach in Baja California. But the Dallas-area restaurant—co-owned by Mario Letayf and chef Antonio Marquez, partners in other restaurants Mexico—offers more than tacos. Its name refers to the restaurant’s specialty—grilling—and the preferred tool—la zaranda (a grilling basket). During a week-long visit from Mexico, Marquez, who ditched economics for culinary school in Paris, took time to answer some of our questions.
Taco Trail: Lazaranda specializes in grilling with a zaranda. Why did you and your business partners decide to go with that concept?
Antonio Marquez: The advantage of that implement is that you can cook in the grill any type of food using it, some food direct to the grill whit the basting, marination’s and sauces, will be difficult to handle in the direct grill, small pieces too are very easy to work with the zaranda.
TT: How did it influence what dishes were put on the menu?
AM: Monterrey is a grill-lovers city, the families and friends every weekend or event, meet in patios or terraces with all the different types of grilling equipment, they share their recepies and secrets. So using the zaranda gives diners that type of taste experience.
TT: When it came to adding tacos to the Lazaranda menu? Were there tacos you insisted be available? How did you decide what tacos to offer?
AM: First of all, grilled tacos, that’s because the grilled corn tortilla get’s a better flavor. They are easier to handle and last longer before getting soaked and the tortilla start to break. We can do all types of tacos. Remember that the tortilla becomes a plate to taste the flavors inside it. And I always try to put flavors and techniques for all the different customer preferences, grilled items, roasted, barbecue, fried, etc. Continue reading