Cool & Hot is Sweet

My 2-year-old son loves three things: cars; his teddy bear, Rupert; and tacos. So, after a morning spent at a local vintage and custom car show, tacos were in order, this time at Cool & Hot. The Oak Cliff taquería inhabits a converted gas station with an operational car wash. It also comes highly recommended by fellow taco lover, Joe Flowers of the Dallas Taco and Burger Brackets -- as his favorite taco joint in all of Dallas. Tall order, indeed. But I respect the man and his tastes. Flowers is onto something when it comes to Cool & Hot.

Hard-to-miss thanks to its blue and yellow color scheme, the taquería serves up a standard array of taco fillings wrapped in corn or flour tortillas, with no extra charge for flour. The tortillas are irregular in shape and handmade in the postage-stamp kitchen behind the sliding-glass ordering window. While I waited for my double order of combos (one with corn, one with flour tortillas), giving la familia and me a comprehensive review of Cool & Hot's tacos, the boy drove his new toy monster truck across tables, guardrails and parking blocks. Other children scurried about singing and playing with siblings on a sunny day perfect for outdoor dining.

And the food was almost perfect. The inclusion of lemon wedges instead of lime always sets a frown on my face, as it did at Cool & Hot, but the barbacoa, regardless of tortilla was a superb example of the food. Succulent, rich, not overly salty, the barbacoa was the best of the lot. The pastor had the appropriate spice but not much substance. The filling looked like it had been struck off the spit with a toothpick. Thankfully, it was still delicious. The fajita options (chicken and beef) were tender strips with subtle char and flavor to match, sometimes to their detriment when eaten next to the barbacoa and pastor. About the picadillo, I state only this: If the only two taquerías left on the last day on earth were Fuel City and Cool & Hot, both offering only picadillo, I would request Cool & Hot's rendition. Without question. Without a second guess.

But the taco shop, near the highway, has more going for that typical tacos. The kitchen offers breakfast tacos all day. There are breakfast burritos, tortas, an assortment of other foodstuffs as well as refreshing snow cones, something I'll need when I return during the heat of summer.

Cool & Hot 930A E. 8th St. 214-944-5330

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José Ralat Maldonado