By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
Hard to find any hint of those nuances in the tiny slivers of pinkish pork hiding under the lettuce and queso fresco in our order. "It's pork that tastes like...pork," says a friend visiting from Denmark, joining us for the second of our two visits to Urban Taco. He claims to be something of an expert on pig-related recipes. "In Denmark we have only two food groups: pork and pork," he says. "Our favorite spice is bacon."
He finds the adobo-spiced chicken torta more exotic. "Adobo" or adobado-style cooking refers to a vinegar-based marinade of tomatoes, garlic, salt, spices and chopped chipotle peppers. The torta, or sandwich, at Urban Taco is a big 'un that comes on a soft-crusted bun piled high with shredded white chicken meat. The flavors of the marinade come through better here, perhaps because there are enough bites of the chicken to get the full benefit of all the ingredients. The bun's good, too, but it's more a bolillo (Mexican French bread) than the telera (flat white bread) listed on the menu.
In everything we try at Urban Taco, flavors are clean, inventive and vivid but not overbearing. The hottest salsa among the six up for grabs is the buttery red roasted peanut-habanero, but even that has subtle warmth with no gasping after-burn. Drizzled for decoration on almost every plate is that smooth avocado-lime crema, which tastes especially good on the twisty tostadas strips that hit their metal bowl still sizzling from the fryer (fresh ones are brought when those cool off). There's also a poblano-and-pine-nut pesto salsa, a charred corn picante and a tomatillo with green pepper, all good and all presented in servings that fall about five scoops short of enough for sharing. (The two salsas we didn't get around to were the "pico de pina" and the black bean pico with roasted corn.)
5331 E. Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, TX 75206
Region: East Dallas & Lakewood
3411 McKinney Ave.
Dallas, TX 75204
Region: Uptown & Oak Lawn
Dessert choices are few (ahem, there's an ice cream place about two doors down) but three of us easily split one order of the churros—fried sticks of sweet dough dusted with cinnamon—that came dripped with chocolate sauce, sitting next to three spoon-size scoops of dulce de leche ice cream. We'd been nudged to order it before we sat down to eat, so we did. Twenty minutes after our last bite of taco we finally get it.
Hurry up and wait. That's what they still need to work on at Urban Taco, the first restaurant venture by Markus Pineyro, a young SMU grad who has tried to replicate the low-key taco joints and traditional flavors of his native Mexico City. It's a work in progress that shows promise, this place. Just promising enough to warrant dropping back in now and then.
5331 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 125, in Mockingbird Station, 214-823-4723. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. $$