Construction ruptures the ground on Davis Street. Near its corner at Bishop Avenue, workers are standing in a carved-out rectangular slice in the middle of the road, and a massive crane reaches into the sky above Stock and Barrel. North Oak Cliff is, for better or worse, changing. On this visit, Dallas is cold, gray as static, with intermittent rain falling in the parking lot of C Señor. Through it all, the neon sign of the city’s best damn little sandwich hut burns bright.
Neon is the perfect metaphor for this place. Since opening in 2014, C Señor’s flavors remain beach-bright, each sandwich filled with eddies of salt and acid as sharp as the ocean surf. There’s no fuss, and there are no reserved tables — nor any indoor seating. It’s mercifully simple food: mostly meat, melted cheese, something to cut the acid and a mango ketchup or two are all you’ll get. After a long year — which included the untimely death of chef Estevan Galindo — it’s catharsis in the form of simplicity.
As if this place wasn't magical enough, every sandwich here, even the chorizo burger, is available in taco form. The yuca fries are craggy columns, deeply crispy on the outside, creamy plant starch on the inside. They’re always exactly salted, and chili dust electrifies the air. The Cubano sandwich, pressed bread and roasted pork and ham, is sensational. The crisp breading gives way to stretchy cheese and tender pork all at once. Mustard and pickle relieve everything else.
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At C Senor, you’re eating outside no matter what. Their tables are concrete and cold as hell in the winter. Plates aren't necessary — food is delivered hot and heavy at the bottom of a paper bag, the way the best food always is — and the sandwich’s wax paper is the serving tray. Honest food, the kind where the biggest flavor is a taste of the cook’s ancestral past, always tastes better outdoors. This food comes with a breeze.
On a recent visit, barbecue smoke teases from nearby Lockhart Smokehouse. Oak Cliff is humming, the crane towering above, looking like it might come to life and take apart the block like a monster in a Spielberg movie.
But amid the change, these spots, frill-less and warming, are the kind to embrace. C Señor serves quick and fast food the way it’s meant to be: fresh, real ingredients that don’t brace you with expense.
Rain begins again, speckling the concrete tables, but few diners rush away. A couple waits for their order under the hut's visor as the temperature drops. It’s like there’s an unspoken contract that the food will be all the warmth needed. There are no umbrellas to keep the rain at bay, but it won’t matter.
C Señor, 330 W. Davis St.