Gas station tacos, right this way.
Large highway gas stations can offer surprising treats. One of them is tacos. Maybe there is a trompo from which is shaved dark red marinated pork in the Mexico City al pastor style with chiles, achiote and citrus or the Monterrey trompo rendition of sticky smoked paprika. The Fox Gas Station on Marvin D. Love Freeway (Highway 67) in Oak Cliff serves the latter.
My first visit, in early 2014, yielded charred nubs of pork from a tired trompo and soggy tortillas. A return visit a year later, though, had a happier ending. Continue reading
Taco Flats’ modern and sleek exterior.
Taco Flats was the taqueria I most anticipated in 2014. Named, with permission, after a legendary Austin bar and rock club, the business from owner Simon Madera, a Rio Grande Valley native and restaurant industry veteran, opened in November. It has become something of a craft beer bar-modern taqueria along a stretch of Burnet Road that is becoming a taco hub. The taqueria is in the same strip center as the brick-and-mortar home of fancy lonchera Peached Tortilla and a short walk from Fork and Taco, which has an Uchi alumnus in its kitchen. Fork and Taco is an admirable restaurant that understands the importance of the handmade tortilla, but this is a review of Taco Flats, not Fork and Taco. That post is forthcoming.
As I mentioned, the wait for Taco Flats’ opening was worth it. From the moment you open the door, you know you’re in for something different. Continue reading
After seven days of North Texas Beer Week, you’re gonna need some tacos. Your amigos at Four Corners Brewing Co. and the Taco Trail got you covered during everyone’s favorite night of the week, TACO NIGHT, Thursday, Nov. 6.
Dallas’ best taquerias will serve el verdadero sabor (the true taste) of Mexico with tacos de trompo. In their Dallas debut, Dos Primos Tacos will present their northern Mexico style of trompo; featuring pork seasoned with a paprika-based marinade. Mexico, DF-style tacos will be well represented with three top Dallas taquerias including El Tizoncito, El Come Taco and Urban Taco. We’re excited to bring them all together.
You need tacos and tacos need beer! Four Corners will have a plenty of variety on hand. Seasonals, special TACO NIGHT release and year-round offerings as well.
General admission, $25, gets you a taco from each vendor, sides and garnish and four 12-ounce pours to wash it all down. Tacos-only passes cost $15. Hot dog truck Eat Jo Dawgs will sell franks for the kiddies. Nos vemos pronto!
When: Thursday, Nov. 6, 6 p.m.
Where: Four Corners Brewing Co., 423 Singleton Blvd., in Trinity Groves
Tickets: $25, $15, available at Prekindle.
Photo: Markus Pineyro
Tacos al pastor stand in Mexico City. Photo: Markus Pineyro.
If Mexico City, and by extension Mexico, were to have an iconic taco, it would be the taco al pastor. This bantam assembly of marinated pork shaved from a trompo (a vertical rotisserie) on a corn tortilla with pineapple, cilantro, onions and salsa is the object of lust for many taco enthusiasts. Spikes of heat, patches of char, citrus pep here and there: What’s not to like? It’s also considered the most authentic of tacos but it is not the first taco and was not adapted from some ancient Aztec recipe. Rather, the taco al pastor appeared in the capital in the mid-20th century, a product of native and immigrant culinary mash-up. It’s also not the only style of taco with meat from a vertical spit. It’s not even the first such dish in Mexico—several of which, including tacos al pastor, are outlined below.
Four hundred years after the Spanish came ashore on the Mexican mainland, initiating the birth of what would become Mexican food with pork, lard, beef and other comestibles, another group of non-indigenous peoples transformed Mexican food. This mass of people, immigrants from the Middle East, specifically Lebanon and Iran, into the city and state of Puebla, brought with them shawarma, lamb cooked on a vertical rotisserie, and their own flatbread, pita. The Mexican adaptation of shawarma popped up in the 1930s at Tacos Árabes Bagdad and Antigua Taqueria La Oriental, but took the form of pork (itself a Spanish import) served on a small pita-like tortilla called pan árabe. Continue reading
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.
Chicago: Taco capital. Home to Rick Bayless, the chef who helped changed Americans’ minds about Mexican cuisine and turned south of the border foodways into a fine-dining force, and a sizable, diverse Mexican immigrant population, offers aficionados of Mexican food, plenty of options. Chicago is also home to Titus Ruscitti, author of the Chicago Taco Tour blog, the tacologist behind the @tweetsoftacos Twitter account, and contributor to Serious Eats, LTHforum.com, Thrillist and Travel Wisconsin. We at the Taco Trail are honored that Titus, or Taco T, as he’ll be known here, is also Taco Trail’s newest contributor.
Without further ado:
Today we head to a part of Chicago rarely seen to those not from here. Actually, the same goes for many who do reside in the city. The East Side of Chicago sits in it’s own little part of the cities landscape. Most people see it driving over 106th Street while taking the Chicago skyway in or out of the city. What you also see when taking that route is the last of the industrial areas which goes by “Da Region” amongst locals. You can check out a taco report I did on the old-school Mexican-American restaurants of northwest Indiana. But today we’re going to stay on the Chicago side and check out the trail along 106th Street, which is basically the last line between the city and the state of Indiana. Continue reading
It’s not difficult to find handmade or housemade tortillas in Dallas-Fort Worth. Tortillerias are plentiful, and any business offering them will make sure you know it. Taqueria Laredo along U.S. Highway 67 in south Oak Cliff is one such establishment. The words are painted large across a retaining wall on one side of a parking lot usually full of cars, pickup trucks mostly. The same wall bears a menu in the form of painted signposts. It’s a fanciful touch that has Taco Trail written all over it.
As its name suggests Laredo Restaurant serves Rio Grande Valley-style eats, namely barbacoa and flour tortillas with the radius of the wheel from a child’s bike. Those items, and by the looks of the food on tables, pozole,are the hits of the house, available only on specific days at a taqueria whose days of operations are Friday, Saturdays and Sundays. Laredo is a special place. Continue reading
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
It wasn’t planned. Our Austin taco stop on the return trip from a Brownsville taco tour weekend was supposed to be El Taco Rico. Unfortunately, it was closed. El Taquito, a fast-casual chain outpost on Riverside Drive, was a backup-backup choice. We were there for pork, specifically al pastor from a trompo, after consuming almost nothing but beef in the Rio Grande Valley. A couple tacos al pastor from some joint off the highway would be all that was needed to hold us over until we got home.
As it turned it out, I had been to El Taquito before. On my first visit, midway through an East Austin taco crawl, Roberto Espinosa tried to warn me about the fried tripe before I bit down on a substance that was more PVC tubing than edible offal.
But it wasn’t time for tripe. It was time to leave behind cow country and the border for a pork preparation. Except it wasn’t. El Taquito was founded in Tamaulipas, a border state where Matamoros and Reynosa are located. The original of the three Central Texas outposts, the official company line claims, was the first to introduce avocado and queso fresco, common taco garnishes on both sides of the Rio Grande, as topping options to Austin.
I had just come a trip where I ate such tacos almost exclusively. It was time for pork. Continue reading
As important as follow-up visits are, I can’t make return trips to every review subject. Those I do eat at more than once are usually my favorite and the worst spots, including Los Torres, La Nueva Fresh & Hot, Mi Tierrita, La Banqueta, El Si Hay and Fuel City. My opinions of which remain unchanged.
Over the course of several visits during a three-year period—and six in the last month—my impression of El Taco del Rincon de Villa (formerly just dear old El Rincon de Villa), on the other hand, couldn’t have shifted by a greater margin: From mixed after my original visit to its current ranking in my top 10 (or as I thought to myself, Holy crap! When did this happen?). Continue reading