While I've been searching for hand-built gyros in vain, the trompo, a vertical spit stacked with a cone of marinated pork, has been spinning in a handful of taquerias all over Dallas. The best part is most of them are made by hand.
My favorite so far is served at Bachman Lake Taqueria. The small restaurant shares space with a Chevron on Bachman Road, just out past Love Field Airport. The first time I walked in and watched the massive spit turning, I knew I was in for something special. You could see juices slowly cascading down the sides of the cone and pork near the burners, mounted alongside the spit, sputtered, popped and cast burnt and roast meat smells out into the dining area.
Walk in and you'll see the spit spinning to your left, but walk first to your right, to the same counter you'd approach to pay for gas and snacks. This is where you order your trompo tacos and grab a drink before taking a small slip of paper to a second counter.
Hand the worker your slip and he'll quickly grab a large, serrated knife and slice off thin strips of sizzling pork for the tacos. The cooks use a small bed of the meat as a platform for steaming each tortilla on the flat grill to keep the store bought shells from becoming excessively greasy. When your tacos are ready they're plated up with sauteed onions, a serrano chili, fresh radish slices, onion, cilantro and a couple of lime wedges. You'll also get a small plastic cup of either green or red salsa. Ask for both.
The pork here has the most almost unnatural hue. It boasts a fiery color, not unlike Skittles or a berry flavored beverage colored with Red No. 40. But take a bite and you won't mind. The meat is intensely flavored, moist, fatty and delicious. I've been known to eat these tacos five at a time.
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Fantasizing about a trompo taco party at home (you do this too, right?), I asked the cook how they made the meat cones and was unexpectedly ushered to the back. There, another worker wearing gloves pulled thin strips of pork shoulder that had been marinating in a bath of guajillo from a bin. He threaded each sheet of pork until he'd created a layer, which he then dusted a neon-yellow powder.
I asked what the powder was, but all the cook could tell me was "flavor," so when he wasn't looking I tasted a little. It was powdered chicken bouillon. He alternated meat layers and "flavor" for round after round. It takes a long time to make one of the cones. The same cook says he makes four cones a day when it's busy.
It's the fat in the pork and the heat of the trompo that make these tacos special. The cooks always have the burners turned up high, and bits of pork and fat sizzle and burn before they're shaved from the cone. The blackened bits add texture and flavor that you wont find in most tacos in Dallas. And I've suddenly found myself less concerned with my hunt for gyros.
3311 W Northwest Hwy, 214-352-0010