I don’t recall how I came across St. Tacos. I do know that from the McKinney taqueria’s Facebook photos, I needed to hightail it north on U.S. 75 at my first opportunity. The pictures showed a trompo, a spread of tacos and salsas so delightfully colorful you could read by them, not to mention the painted roads on St. Tacos’ floor.
Would the journey to St. Tacos end in a reward of cochinita so spot-on the achiote and sour oranges mistook the sides of my mouth for boxing gym punching bags? If I made my way to St. Tacos, would I be welcomed with pork sliced off a trompo like a casino card dealer’s flicks cards to the poor suckers with high expectations? Would the pork bear a protective, happy crust from its slow dance on the trompo and bear evidence of chile and citrus wrap? What of the barbacoa? Would it coat my stomach with stale canola oil?
The answer to the latter questions is a resounding “No!” The rest needs some explaining. St. Tacos’ barbacoa is a solid take on the classic preparation. It’s lean without losing body. There is no excess grease. It’s tried-and-true barbacoa through and through. The cochinita gets high marks for being the pugilist I hoped it would be. During my conversation with Eduardo Muensch, St. Tacos’ owner, the Mexico City native revealed how he prepared his cochinita (extended marinating isn’t involved) and where he learned the recipe (Merida, Yucatan). The bistec wasn’t pulverized, a travesty all too common in many area taquerias. Continue reading
Dallas’ best potato and egg taco is found along Singleton Avenue, near the Trinity Groves. And I’m concerned it’s not long for this world. Until, a friend and I decided to try our luck with lunch at Taquería La Chilanga, the red, yellow, orange and white freestanding taquería at the foot of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, I’d not seen it open for business for months. I had thought it had already fallen victim to the restaurant concepts taking up the development led by uber-restaurateur Phil Romano and partners, at the eatery’s doorstep.
What we found wasn’t a gem but a solid operation making its own corn and flour tortillas by hand, a taquería that deserves constant business.
Lunch was every taco available—a total of seven—on tortillas de maiz hechas a mano split between two customers. We were the only customers. Continue reading
It all started with a photo message from Brandon Castillo. My friend, the executive director of the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and co-producer of the North Texas Taco Festival, had sent me an image of a flyer with a trompo, the logo of the Saltillo, Mexico, soccer club, a map and words: Trompo Loco Highland Mart.
Our first attempt at eating at Trompo Loco was for naught. I arrived ahead of Brandon and found the blue corner building, a former bodega, closed with no sign of a lunch opening. We defaulted to Tacos La Banqueta, a short walk away. It wasn’t a bad move.
On recent weekend morning, I get another photo from Brandon, this one of a lone taco de trompo on blue-and-white checker paper. It was followed by a picture of a trompo, carmine-colored spinning top-shape hunk pork capped with the top half of a pineapple at the corner of Worth Street & North Carroll Avenue.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I finally had the opportunity to try the tacos at Trompo Loco Highland Mart. They incredible. Continue reading
Slices of reflective, maroon-colored pork resting in greasy tortillas are a beautiful sight streaked. Even if I could do without the greasy tortillas underneath the meat. But that’s what you get at a Fito’s Tacos de Trompo, including #3, a walk-up taqueria next to a gas station on Northwest Highway, up the road from La Nueva Fresh & Hot Tortilleria.
While Fito’s #3 can’t compete with La Nueva—and its tortillas can be wrung out to fill a deep fryer—the trompo is stellar. The achiote bit back with mild chile. I had only one other type of taco available to me, bistec. The taquero behind the window counter said they were out of barbacoa, lengua campechanas, piratas, an array of potentially exquisite styles. As for the bistec… Continue reading
Many taquerías looked closed from the street, but I had never seen Rosita’s open, even though my friends at TacOCliff had reviewed it and another friend recommended it. “Trompo tacos done right,” he said of the “Monterrey style spot.” Over a weekend, I drove by to find its neon open sign aglow. In I went.
While I did find excellent trompo, I also found three large paintings of biblical scenes on the north wall: one of the Last Supper depicting Judas contemplating his exit; one of Moses, the 10 commandments in one hand, a staff in the other framed by lightning; and one of the Nativity. Photos of Pancho Villa hung one the opposite wall. As you see above, the signs of such religiosity began on the exterior of the strip-mall taquería.
The menu over the cake display advertised barbacoa, and it turned out to be a mix of cachete and lengua de res (beef cheek and tongue). I didn’t give it a second thought, and added it to my order, along with carne deshebrada.
Street tacos come in a plethora of forms: pastor/trompo, guisados, chapulines, etc. While I’ve enjoyed those, I have been unable to sample until National Taco Day a hard-to-find variety in Dallas: tacos al vapor. These tacos are steamed treats sometimes listed as tacos de canasta (basket, referring to the vessel in which they are kept warm and steamed) and tacos sudado (sweated). But at the two taquerías I visited last Thursday, they were labeled as al vapor. Along for the ride was Alex Flores, the graphic whiz who gives this blog its visual appeal.
The tacos al vapor at Taco Rico on Clarendon are priced at a dollar a piece and available by cash only. We didn’t know what to expect. For that price, we could easily be presented with cold, gummy envelopes hiding sad fillings. What we received was a plate of iridescent pockets containing deshebrada de pollo, potato and frijol, each of which could be piled with cabbage and chopped tomatoes. Continue reading
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