I’m passionate about tacos: their history, their culture, their variety, their everything. I’ve explored and written about them from coast to coast, but it's here in Dallas, where I started Taco Trail
at the Observer,
that tacos continue to thrill me, be it at old favorites or new operations ranging from fast-casual concepts and family-friendly restaurants to food trucks and taqueria standbys. Many of them have excellent tacos hidden in plain sight, tacos that are overlooked for less “exotic-sounding” options. Here are the 10 DFW tacos that belong on your radar.
Barbacoa de Borrego at Barbacoa Agave & Seafood Restaurant #1
9515 CF Hawn Fwy.
Unlike it’s heralded neighbor
, Barbacoa de Agave doesn't see long lines. What this cash-only joint does have is barbacoa de borrego (lamb) that is smoked inside clay containers. What comes to your table in a chafing dish is punchy like the best Texas barbecue. At times, the pinkish-brown meat is almost candy-like in the handmade corn tortilla, but the mouth-searing salsa crushes it right quick.
Cecina de Puerco at Mi Lindo Oaxaca
2535 Fort Worth Ave.
It’s amazing that Mi Lindo Oaxaca remains open. There's no signage bearing the restaurant’s name, payment is cash-only and the cooking is done by hand, beginning with the hand-shelling of cacao beans for the house-made chocolate that goes into the house-made mole. The mole at Mi Lindo Oaxaca, the only Oaxaqueño restaurant that I've found in Dallas, is exquisite. Among the handful of taco options, which include chapulines (roasted grasshoppers), my favorite is the Oaxacan cecina de puerco, grilled and chopped chile-marinated pork, served in fresh white or blue corn tortilla that are toasted with restraint. It sees the brittle, cracker-thin cliff and brakes just in the nick of time. Ask nicely and the kitchen might serve the taco with a salty flanken-cut rib or two.
Crispy Taco at C’Viche
1922 Greenville Ave.
Light as a paper airplane and not much thicker, C’Viche’s fried-to-order crispy taco shell, ridged from the frying form, gets layers of mouth-puckering beef and the Tex-Mex holy trinity of lettuce, tomato and cheese, this case a dusting of queso blanco. It’s a snappy treat, perfect next to the fierce aguachile.
Fried Tripe at Tacos La Banqueta Puro DF
1305 N. Carroll Ave.
When I was 9 years old I saw a goat butchered behind my grandmother’s house before the meal. It was the coolest thing. Fast-forward a few decades to Dallas and Tacos La Banqueta’s original, compact space across the street from the beloved taco joint’s current spot. It’s there that I witnessed taqueros cleaning the bovine intestinal tract for tripe tacos. I marveled as the kitchen worker ran water through the tube, dunking the intestine in a bucket of water again and again.
When fried, the tripe at Tacos La Banqueta is salty and crunchy, not funky. Cut in half-inch segments, the tripe sits crackled atop the diminutive street taco-style double-ply white corn tortillas. Heavy-handed doses of raw white onion and chopped cilantro and spritzes of lime contribute brightness and zing. All of it leads to one question: Why have I overlooked this taco for La Banqueta’s signature suadero and cabeza?
Mayan Tacos at Azucar Latin American Cuisine
Food truck; location varies
On the road for less than a year, this pan-Latino food truck offers fine tacos, but it’s what owners John Gallegos and Kenneth and Lillian Weaver call “Mayan tacos” that deserve your attention. The small noshes, served two to an order, start with the bready, puffed base of fry bread tacos, a regional specialty
of the American Southwest.
“We started with the Navajo fry bread and asked ourselves, How can we put a Latin spin on the dish?” Gallegos says.
Indeed, while fry bread tacos get whole chili beans, the Maya Tacos have a refried black bean base. Juicy, sweet chicken, fresh lettuce (not just iceberg), chopped onions and tomatoes, crumbled cheese and wild squiggles of crema are stacked atop the beans to create a dish that is lighter — but just as delightfully messy — as a fry bread taco. Thanks to their diminutive size, the fry bread tacos evoke sopes or salbutes, a puffy taco-like specialty of the Yucatan, part of the ancient Maya homeland. If I were strolling through a beach town market and came across a vendor hawking Mayan Tacos, I’d order them. In the meantime, I’ll satisfy myself by visiting Azucar at the Truck Yard.