A Field Guide to the Taquerias of I-35

Get ready to taste a lot of access roads.
Get ready to taste a lot of access roads.
Matt Wood

Part of the responsibility that comes with being a Texan is that you're expected to know where the good tacos are at all times. This is easy and hard in equal measure, since there are approximately 500,000 taquerias in the state and little to no way of knowing which ones are worth your time outside of some gringo's Yelp review that ham-fistedly describes an establishment as "kinda ghetto but surprisingly delicious."

So, as you embark upon the wretched, hungover trip to Austin for a festival, packed in your ramshackle '95 Geo Metro with your three best friends who you hate, stave off the instant regret of an ill-advised Taco Bell binge by hitting up one of these street-style taco merchants instead.

Just so we don't end up beaten and zip-tied in a trunk somewhere by an enraged taco blogger for failing to mention their favorite spot, it might be helpful to lay some ground rules first: We're looking at places using onion, cilantro and lime wedges for garnish, on corn tortillas exclusively -- unless the place makes their own flour tortillas, which might be worth a delicious exception. Oh, and no cheese allowed, lest you risk taco heresy. We're also focusing on taquerias directly along I-35 between Dallas and Austin, so if your favorite place is more than a mile off the highway, you're out of luck. We've got a schedule to keep, after all.

At least now you've got something to do while getting your car inspected.
At least now you've got something to do while getting your car inspected.
Matt Wood

Mis Tacos Location: Far South Dallas Time from Dallas: 12 Minutes Specialty: Huevos Con Chorizo Field Notes: If the infernal hunger strikes before you even make it out of the city, head to Mis Tacos in South Dallas to feed the beast. Don't let the fact that it shares a building with an auto repair shop throw you; just look for the colorful wall-sized mural hinting at delicious secrets within and pull up a chair at the communal outdoor-only tables while you wait for magic to emerge from the joint's single window. The barbacoa is chewier than we've had at other spots, but its flavor will win you over by the third bite. If Mis happens to be your first stop on a morning trip, opt for one of the Huevos dishes and thank us later.

Two Amigos Taqueria Location: Waxahachie Time from Dallas: 36 Minutes Specialty: Carne Asada Tacos Field Notes: Two Amigos' carne asada taco is the stuff of dreams -- rich and juicy with just enough fresh onion to liven up your mouth without crossing the line. The house-made tortillas play double duty as deliciously thick and crunchy chips, served alongside red and green sauce you'll probably want to drink straight from the bowl. Although the place gets nearly everything right, the tacos didn't come with lime wedges on the side. But by employing some complex problem solving you can take the lime from your drink and judiciously wring it over each taco. Which, according to Taco Law, is mandatory.

El Taco Jalisco Location: Hillsboro Time from Dallas: 1 Hour, 1 Minute Specialty: Barbacoa by the Pound Field Notes: If you're looking to satisfy a crowd, El Taco Jalisco has you and your entourage of dirty-broke friends covered. For a meager $10, you'll get a pound of barbacoa and a dozen tortillas with which to guide the magic meat into your ravenous maw. The lengua tacos also impress, but if you really want to get nasty, put that tongue in a torta instead -- the bolillo is flaky and chewy, the meat is tender and you are obscenely happy with your life choices.

Just eat the cactus. It'll be fine.
Just eat the cactus. It'll be fine.
Matt Wood

Taqueria El Mexicano Grille #8 Location: Bellmead Time from Dallas: 1 Hour, 26 Minutes Specialty: Carne Guisada Tacos Field Notes: For whatever reason, there are lots of good tacos near Waco, so you probably ought to start pacing yourself now if you haven't already. Taqueria El Mexicano is a local chain with locations in small towns all around Texas, but that shouldn't scare you off -- their homemade corn and flour tortillas are great, particularly when they're wrapped around rich, velvety carne guisada. Try a taco de nopales; everyone deserves a little tangy cactus in his life.



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