2020 was a long, trying year for Tacos Mariachi, its employees and its many fans. The restaurant seemed on the cusp of breakthrough success, with a new second location on Greenville Avenue, when the pandemic struck. Both of its locations ended up closing permanently.
But owner Jesús Carmona is back, just two blocks from the original Mariachi, with a new spot that’s nearly identical to the old ones. He’s weathered the pandemic — including his own coronavirus case — and renamed his taco joint from Mariachi to Milagro, in honor of the fact that he’s still standing.
For fans of the original, the good news is that Milagro Taco Cantina reprises the Mariachi menu almost completely. Those incredible fish, shrimp and octopus tacos are finally back, and so is most of the decor. Milagro’s menu also consists of hand-painted canvases, and it still sports the wonderful mural advertising its four salsas, with a great big black X through the “mild” salsa, which does not exist.
There are new arrivals, too. Carmona tells me that he plans to jump on the current birria taco trend, but with mahi mahi and cod taking turns as the star protein that gets fried into tortillas and dunked in consomme. There’s a whole new list of ceviche tostadas. And I’ll be back soon to try the new shrimp burger, which includes chicharrón crumbles and a jalapeño glaze.
On my first visit, though, I just wanted to revisit my favorites from the pre-pandemic days including the taco, which sees a generous portion of smoked salmon folded into griddled, golden cheese ($5.75). The mazateño, my beloved shrimp taco topped with pico and spicy salsa, has been tweaked and renamed to the taco gobernador, which adds a huge scoop of sweet-sour pickled red onions ($5.25).
The campechano taco is still a perfect, perfectly humongous surf-and-turf combination of carne asada, octopus and shrimp ($5.75). Grab some chips and salsa, too, to enjoy a cup of salsa in which the flavor of roasted chile peppers is unusually strong and punchy ($3.25).
I visited on Milagro’s first Friday night, at the peak of dinner rush, when a short staff was scrambling to keep up. (Some newly hired employees had not shown up, leaving Carmona running tacos to tables and his longtime, loyal Tacos Mariachi cooks in the kitchen.) We waited 15 minutes to place an order.
But honestly, what’s 15 minutes? I’d waited over a year for these tacos. Tacos Mariachi is probably the single Dallas restaurant I’ve visited the most, including, as a matter of personal tradition, on the way home from the airport after every vacation. In January 2020, before the world went insane, friends visited us from Germany with an impossibly tight schedule — they were on a layover at the airport, flying back home. They asked us to pack as much Texas as we could into two hours. So we took them to Tacos Mariachi.
For a year, I was worried that that would be my last memory of one of my favorite Dallas restaurants. But now all the classic recipes are back, just two blocks away from the original location. It’s a milagro.
Milagro Taco Cantina, 440 Singleton Blvd. #100, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday - Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Closed Monday.