All-American is a series that looks at beloved, long-standing North Texas eateries and examines their history while exploring how the food has changed — for the good or bad — over the years.
The first rule of Green Spot is: You should not feel bewildered by Green Spot. Stepping in, announced by the jangle of the convenience store doors near the biodiesel pumps, you might feel an overwhelming urge to ask “What is this place?” Don’t worry about it. Take deep breaths: There are breakfast tacos, piping hot and full of chopped bacon, right when you walk into the doors. The tacos are each swaddled in foil, in a steamy manger, near the registers like impulse buys. Why? Because few things are more beautifully Texan than breakfast tacos with homemade habanero salsa, at the register where you would normally find terrible candy and 5-hour Energy.
There is gas outside, and Holy Kombucha on tap (in three flavors) inside at Green Spot. There is Keystone Light in the coolers and vegan yogurt on the shelves. So, don’t worry about what Green Spot is or isn’t. It’s simply your general store that gives a damn. Breakfast tacos are under three bucks a pop, a hot meal made tastier with splashes of homemade salsas in shooter cups. Time it right, and you can get a mahi mahi fish taco and an espresso while you wait for your car to fill up on cooking oil-based fuel. Order a meal, hang for a minute, and then run.
Earlier this year, the breakfast-taco-and-organic-food-gas-station turned 10 years old.
“We’re trying to do as much local as possible,” says Sue Nadimpalli. “Give a way for people to actually see what it is to eat locally. See what kind of product someone in the neighborhood makes.”
A handful of years ago, before Nadimpalli took over Greenspot from then-owner Bruce Bagelman, she took a break from her career as a network engineer. She spent time with her son after he experienced an intense outbreak of food allergies that’d scare any human who enjoys food: One crack of an egg, in a separate room, would cause her son to wash over with hives. So, it meant a lot to Nadimpalli to run a store where you could read the labels and pronounce all of the ingredients of the food that’s served. Vegan wine, for example, should have its place somewhere, right?
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“It’s very basic,” she says. Their kitchen is small. Food is delivered on paper plates, hot and fast. And here’s the thing: It’s simple and, for the most part, unexpectedly good fast food. Some dishes don’t sing, and some do. “I can’t have a full-fledged menu. The space is so limited. I can’t have anything that is expensive,” Nadimpalli says.
I’m dropped at a table in front of the tiny kitchen, avoiding the cake of humidity in East Dallas, with a “bistek” taco — tender beef cloaked in a rich, brown sauce and stuck with lots of cilantro. It tastes great. A grilled mahi mahi taco has an overcooked blade of fish, disguised by a satisfying sour cream sauce that’s ablaze with lime juice. Order these tacos, and you’ll need to look outside for a reminder that you’re sitting in a gas station on a slab of concrete.
A decade after opening, Nadimpalli strives to keep things the same as it ever was at the local favorite. On a recent visit, before walking out, one customer turns to the register, loudly speaks an overwhelming approval of the burger, and doesn’t wait for a reaction from anyone on staff. His approval hangs in the air, and then everyone keeps going.
Green Spot, 702 N. Buckner Blvd.