During Hidden Gems Week, the Observer food and drink writers are celebrating an abundance of diverse, delicious restaurants and bars around Dallas, places that don’t often (or ever) get mentioned by big-name food media, trendsetters, bloggers or chefs. We’re taking you outside of the ordinary to help you discover something new.
Dallas is one of the hottest, most thriving Mexican food cities in the United States. Just about every neighborhood has a great taco restaurant, and south of the Trinity River, there are dozens. Some of them you know about. Trompo received national attention from Bon Appetit magazine; Tacos Mariachi was the Observer’s Best Taqueria of 2016; El Si Hay, a few blocks from Bishop Arts, has had a strong cult of fans for years and the ever-present line to prove it; the new Maskaras Mexican Grill got a lot of attention for its lucha libre-themed atmosphere.
But many of Oak Cliff’s taco joints don’t have such a following yet. Some of them aren’t listed on Yelp or Google Maps. We hate to betray some of the neighborhood’s best-kept secrets, but it’s our job — and these are small businesses, so revealing a “secret” spot means helping the owners find new customers and pay the bills. That’s a good cause.
Here’s your guide to three taquerias and Mexican restaurants in Oak Cliff that you won’t find on Yelp, along with suggested orders and, in some cases, what to avoid.
616 Schooldell Drive. Closed Wednesday; open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. all other days.
Any list of Oak Cliff hidden gems has to include La Sultana, the only one of these three restaurants that you can find on Google Maps. It boasts a long breakfast menu — huevos rancheros, huevos divorciados (one egg in salsa verde, one egg in salsa roja), chilaquiles and a list of breakfast tacos, only one of which contains eggs, all between $1 and $2. The taco with a fluffy mix of mashed potatoes and chorizo is fantastic, the barbacoa nicely flavored and tender, but the surprise star is the bistec, brilliantly seasoned and with a sear so good you can smell it. All come on excellent from-scratch corn tortillas.
The chilaquiles ($7) are another winner — with gently spicy salsa verde, crisp chips and just-still-runny eggs — so we’re excited to return and try La Sultana’s lunchtime specialties, including El Sultanazo, a monster platter featuring a gordita, a sope, two red enchiladas, two flautas, two tacos and two fried tacos.
Because La Sultana’s menu is not posted anywhere else online and because we like the place so much, we are including the menu below before getting to the other two restaurants. Check La Sultana’s Facebook page for its incredible weekly specials, like two-for-one breakfasts on Mondays and $0.99 Taco Tuesdays.