Gorditas and tacos, alive and well at El Atoron.
Gorditas and tacos, alive and well at El Atoron.
Scott Reitz

El Atoron Serves Up the Taco's Fatter Cousin in East Dallas

Why is there not more talk about gorditas? I realize tacos will reign supreme forevermore — they are cheap, delicious and perfect — but it seems that maybe the gordita is not getting the attention it’s due.

Gorditas are a bit like arepas, the stuffed corn cakes popular in Venezuela and other parts of South America. The shells are much thicker than tortillas. They are soft and slightly chewy, have a savory quality because they’re cooked in oil, and with a careful incision, they are capable of holding all sorts of delicious fillings. To put lettuce on a taco would be criminal, but on a gordita, shredded iceberg can proudly contribute its crunchy coolness.

If you want a good one you can head to El Atoron at its new location. The humble taqueria used to sit on Henderson Avenue until it was displaced a few months ago by continuing gentrification. Now, Atoron's original building is razed, but the restaurant lives on in what used to be La Popular’s address on the corner of Munger Boulevard and Columbia Avenue. The walls were painted orange, a fancy TV was hung near the door ... and that's about it. El Atoron is exactly as it was months ago, down to the same laminated and weathered menus offering tacos and tortas for rock-bottom prices.

But you came here for gorditas. I’m sure they’ll stuff yours with just about anything you beg them to, but chorizo and beans and cheese are my favorites. They could put a sock in a gordita, though, and with enough of that wildly hot green sauce you would thank them for your lunch.

Don’t forget, El Atoron is one of the few taquerias in the Dallas that serve huitlacoche on its regular menu. The fungus-infected corn isn’t much to look at, but it tastes delicious. It reminds me of creamed corn with earthy, mushroom flavors. And lastly, don’t pass up on the tacos, even if you can only order one. The shells are small, light and thin, a pleasure to eat, and they only set you back $1.50 each. Not bad for three bites of happiness.

Find El Atoron at 101 S. Munger Blvd. 214-887-8846.

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