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The Hidden Gem of the Dallas Farmers Market: The Roti Tacos at 8 Cloves

8 Cloves is open at 9 a.m. on the weekends at the Dallas Farmers Market, serving the entire menu. No dine-in: Just takeout and delivery.EXPAND
8 Cloves is open at 9 a.m. on the weekends at the Dallas Farmers Market, serving the entire menu. No dine-in: Just takeout and delivery.
Nick Rallo

They scramble eggs in the morning, wrapped with veggies and potatoes in a blistered roti, but that’s not why you should stand in line at the brightest food stand at the Dallas Farmers Market.

This many miles into quarantine, cooking, for some of us, has devolved into the most primal forms of the meal — we’re eating things standing, sideless and handheld. Heirloom tomato tarts were fun during the first month. Now we’re eating dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets straight off of the oven rack, whether they’re done or not. Breakfast is growing harder in these forever-eat-at-home days — omelets were good in March, now I find myself eating a fistful of berries like a primordial hunter-gatherer.

The staff at 8 Cloves know what you want, and that doesn’t need to be eggs. The mood to which I’m referring is best summarized with a quote from BBC’s Killing Eve (season two): “I can’t stand breakfast. It’s just constant eggs. Why? Who decided?”

Everything’s bright at 8 Cloves. The hot sauce with fresh chiles is as red as a cardinal; there are the oranges and yellows of curry. The strong greens of peas and cilantro stand out.

On a Saturday morning, the kitchen is masked-up and ready. One couple orders the stunning Thali platter, a round dish with sections of a dozen vegetarian dishes: fresh green peas and paneer in a cashew curry, saag paneer or vegetables and nuts in a spicy-to-the-roots cream sauce.

“I really cannot see anything I don’t want,” the man says.

Tacos in roti, blistered flatbread, on the right are Keema Minced Beef with romaine lettuce, tomatoes and a creamy sauce. Shrimp tacos on the left in a spicier, coconut-based sauce.EXPAND
Tacos in roti, blistered flatbread, on the right are Keema Minced Beef with romaine lettuce, tomatoes and a creamy sauce. Shrimp tacos on the left in a spicier, coconut-based sauce.
Nick Rallo

The roti tacos are available early in the morning despite the brunch menu — ”we do it all,” says the server just before 10 a.m. — at the food stand that’s marched its way through the pandemic with takeout and contactless delivery.

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Fresh flatbread, tender and sun-spotted with char, get filled with basmati rice and paneer or shrimp or spiced, minced beef and 100-watt sauces. Each comes with that intensely tangy and red chili sauce you’ll want in a satellite-dish-sized extra container.

The keema minced beef is dotted with peas that snap-pop, and a warming, incredibly-cilantro-heavy sauce. Chef and owner Afifa Nayeb knows how to electrify comfort food (see: The appetizer of breadsticks and creamy tikka sauce).

The morning is for shrimp tacos. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Egg burritos are fine: They are better than almost any other at 8 Cloves. The luminosity of their tacos, volcano-red reduced to steam under cooling cilantro sauce, is a hidden Dallas gem.

8 Cloves, 920 S. Harwood St., Suite 180 (Dallas Farmers Market). Open for takeout and delivery 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

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