There was absolutely no way a burger was going to be on the menu. Nope. They would not be swayed by the gravity pull from planet beef. No way.
The previous owner had a griddled cheeseburger on the menu of this taqueria for years in South Dallas — the building was featured in Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket — but a burger was one of the few aspects of the original joint that Marc Hooper and Trent Nabors hoped to sunset in their new taco joint.
Then, Marc Hooper made one.
That’s all it takes for a cheeseburger to find its way into your soul: a hot griddle, some salt and a good bun. Suddenly, your eyes roll over like a great white facing a spoonful of blood in the water.
The Bo-Leo Taco Shack’s owners tried ground beef, dusted with dry taco seasoning. That one didn’t work. They tweaked it more. They fed it to friends. Tweaked it more. They ended up with something special: a 50-50 blend of chorizo and beef, seasoned, griddled, on a crusty, fresh bolillo roll. Pickled onions and thin coins of jalapeños allow a clap of acid.
The day’s been going since dawn for Bo-Leo’s. It starts with breakfast tacos, completing the day with lunch options at 3 in the afternoon. Before lunch, patio fans churn air as thick as a pound cake, and Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Screw You, We’re From Texas” plays from the iPhone that’s charging against the wall. Out front, Hooper’s hanging behind the sliding-glass window. He takes orders, and the griddle hisses. It’s been six weeks since Hooper and Nabors opened their doors.
For a decade before they took the keys, Bo-Leo’s was a family-run joint under a different name. Nabors and Hooper had some concerns at opening bell.
“We were coming into what was a family-run operation. … We want to continue service to the community,” Hooper says. He’s calm and quiet before the lunch hour. “We were concerned with the idea that people might think we were doing a little cultural appropriation, but it’s food that we eat all the time.”
Hooper says they added their touch to things — there’s queso and breakfast tacos on scratch tortillas (both flour and corn tortillas are made in-house) — but the heart of the previous taqueria is still pumping. That's all they say on the matter for now.
Hooper and Nabors held on to the chef from the former taqueria — she’s behind the griddle, searing chorizo-beef patties and stuffing fluffy corn tortillas, with the tell-tale made-in-house crimped edges, with pork. The cheeseburger is a new Dallas gem.
At 9 bucks (it comes with fries), a patty that’s shaped like the oblong bolillo roll it’s housed under gets a blackened char. The roll is soft beneath a crusty layer, the bread cracks into shards like a from-the-oven baguette when you slice it in half. Pickled onions and thinly sliced jalapenos are a clap of acid over the spiced, rich chorizo. Chipotle aioli is smoky, cooling. Cheese is molten, flowing over the patty.
In other words, it’s sensational.
There was no good reason to redo the burger. Now, you can’t ignore it.
Bo-Leo's Taco Shack, 4300 Parry Ave. (South Dallas/Fair Park). 214-258-5479. Open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday.