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Aca Las Tortas, East Dallas' New Castle of Torta Greatness, Is Now Open

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I wasn't surprised when Trompo Loco closed last year, after a brief tenure in the Highland Mart on Carroll Street in East Dallas. I knew the place had some fans, but I was always underwhelmed with the tiny trompo that sat inside. It never spun. When you ordered a pastor taco the cook/owner/cashier sliced some meat from the cone and tossed it on the flat grill instead of letting it cook on the trompo. Business seemed as dead as the motionless spit.

But the butcher paper that covers the windows of fledgling restaurants has magical properties, concealing the restaurant's past while teasing the future. Aca Las Tortas took over the ramshackle blue building, painted the exterior an awkward beige and bolted a massive sign to the roof. When the new restaurant finally opened, the old Trompo Loco was reduced to a vapor -- a porky taco ghost.

The restaurant still has some signs that there's work to be done. The lack of seating is probably the most obvious, and it seems every week a new item is added to the menu and a corresponding sign is hung from the windows out front -- but there's still enough to indicate that Aca Las Tortas will be different from most torta shops.

Maybe it's the decor. Coke bottles of all shapes and sizes from various decades are balanced on shelves on the walls. Maybe it's that the bottles are joined by the occasional dragon and other sculptures and figurines. Maybe it's the small cup of soup you're handed after you place your order. It's hot, with soft strands of pasta floating on the bottom and a twinge of spice. It's warm and salty and soothing when it's cold outside, and it's just enough that you're finished by the time your food is ready.

Choose from steak, chicken and pork for your fajita tacos and you'll get double-stacked tortillas filled with saucy meat, onions and peppers. The tortas run the usual gamut, a blur of pounded and breaded meats, ham and taco fillings, with beans, lettuce, tomato, plenty of mayo and melting cheese and crunchy, crusty bread, but they're made with restraint. If you use tortas as a form of self punishment, you'll have to look elsewhere for your vice. Not that a hungry person can't finish one, but I can personally attest that doing so will conjure the dire need for a late afternoon nap.

Aca Las Tortas might still be a work in progress, but it's a work in progress you should eat.

Aca Las Tortas, 4420 Worth St.

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