City of Ate's Taco Trail ends today. It was a good run, but I'm moving on. (That doesn't mean I'll cease writing about tacos. How can I not play on the taco jungle gym that is Dallas?)
While deciding on the final City of Ate venue, I considered three restaurants. Taco Ocho, the new northern Mexican taqueria in Richardson, was the prime candidate, thanks to a menu that elicited Pavlovian stirrings and dirty thoughts that would make my priest turn salsa-roja red. Sabor: A Taco Joint was the next option. Its contemporary décor juxtaposed with a taco menu steeped in tradition makes me think the downtown restaurant is Urban Taco done right.
However, I wanted to end with something indicative of time (Texas, because Texas is unchanging. Texas is Texas) and place (Texas and its gem of gustatory offering to the world, Tex-Mex).
Then, Zuzu, the almost 20-year-old Lakewood Tex-Mex shop, a favorite with locals, especially families. It's menu reads classically. Burritos, here. Chimichangas, there. Fajitas? Check? Crispy beef tacos? Absolutely, mano. Let's not forget the Lone Star State's primordial soup, queso.
Settling on the Taco Lovers platter, I felt helpless. Chicken, steak and crispy beef seem innocuous enough when read. Yet, experience teaches that those three selections are minefields where the intruder is assured disaster. Disaster is what befell me. Still, I found salvation in the most unexpected of tacos.
The chicken and steak taco were dry, the latter less so. It was sufficiently moist that some salsa comino, packed with cumin and chipotle, made the steak worthy of decent marks. Both came hidden under tremendous pyramids of lush green lettuce dotted with cream. There was too much lettuce, not enough cream or cheese.
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The privately owned Lakewood ZuZu makes the best crispy taco I have ever eaten. The yellow corn shell had a spring thanks in part to a filling that softened its bottom. The filling itself was saucy. Clearly, the fat hadn't been drained from the beef after browning. More cooks should leave the fat in. The chunks of ground beef were small. None were left unenjoyed. The consistency of the filling was akin to chorizo and egg cooked correctly, a gloriously adhesive tube of satisfaction.
By the time I had finished the tacos the ordering line was at the front door. It's a popular joint, a place I recommend trying if you already haven't. More important, Zuzu was a surprise. I loathe a surprise that takes the form of a Christmas present, but I adore one found in a restaurant, especially at the end of this branch of the Taco Trail.