Tacos have always been big in Dallas. From the real estate mogul and socialite to the day laborer and college co-ed, everyone loves a taco, has an opinion about tacos and is a staunch defender of his or her favorite. In 2010, however, tacos really took off. The gourmet/specialty brand cemented itself as a major player in the market--Rusty Taco, Torchy's Tacos and KorBQ are a few examples. The traditional taco, in turn, garnered new consideration due to fancy renditions and social-media events like the Dallas Taco Bracket.
On the Taco Trail, I have sought out tacos of all varieties, eating them large and eating them lean, but always with an ear to the taco landscape. I've gotten sick; I've come away beaming; I've been surprised; I've been disappointed. Most of all, I'm hungry for more. Culled from my adventures, five tacos stand out above the rest. In no particular, order they are presented below.
Desperados Tacos:Desperados Mexican Restaurant Since 1976, this family-owned establishment (next door to Rusty Taco) has been reeling in Tex-Mex and Mexican food lovers alike. With the Desperado Tacos, a version of the San Antonio puffy taco presented in a pair, I can see why. The flash-fried flour tortillas are light, with not too much flake. The melted Jack cheese hugs the beef fajita meat under refreshing pico de gallo and a buttery avocado slice. The entrée is even better Thursdays after 5 p.m., when the normal price is reduced.
Choriqueso:El Tizoncito Taquería A different though authentic take on the chorizo taco, the choriqueso is an appetizer at this Cockrell Hill taquería famous for its Mexico City-style fare. The signature alambres are fantastic, to be sure, but the choriqueso sours as the unsung star, finger-staining soft chorizo (not the burned lot common in tacos) is wed to gooey white cheese atop a trio of spongy flour tortillas perfect for sharing. One bite, however, and you'll never share it again.
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Mole Turkey:Torchy's Tacos The November special should be offered year round, giving us who balk at some of the Titanic selections of this Austin transplant a lighter option. The feather-light corn tortillas are substantial enough to withstand the weight of the twin strips of crispy, deep-fried turkey nestled with an avocado wedge all held together by a thin coat of dark red mole with earthy and spicy hints and a dusting of cheese that make this taco worth braving the long lines and the wait for a table.
Cabeza : Tacos El Guero The succulent cabeza balances fat content with meat to create an edible epiphany. A single of the cabeza and you won't be making any of those annoying sounds diners make when eating something outstanding. No. You'll be exclaiming, "Goddamn! That's some good shit," while wondering how the filling stops shy of a gelatinous mess. And In lesser hands than those of the silent taquero in the bantam kitchen, it would be slop.
Suadero: Tacos El Guero It's not just that a suadero taco is free for first-time visitors to El Guero, it's the thin pad of fat some pieces have. The fat dissolves like a Communion wafer. If Communion wafers tasted like the suadero filling, with expertly charred cuts concealing smooth beef, I'd attend Mass as regularly as I eat tacos.