The Carroll Avenue location of my favorite taqueria, La Banqueta, has officially been replaced, in what may be the quickest restaurant opening in the history of Dallas.
Taqueria Conin opened sometime last week, not long after the new tenants completed a hasty renovation. The exterior of the building got a new coat of dusky yellow paint. It's similar but not as bright as the sunny tone that marks Alberto Neri's La Banqueta brand. Inside, things have changed, but not too much.
The layout is the same. A slightly larger wall divides the kitchen area from the even smaller dining area, and the shelf that served as a bar for eating has been painted chocolate brown. In the back, your white refrigerator from your college apartment keeps sodas and bottles of water cool. Things seem a little uneven. The space feels sparse and hurried.
To size Taqueria Conin up, I ordered a suadero and pastor taco, the two most popular tacos formerly served here by La Banqueta. The suadero was almost completely made of fat, with a stark-white color and only a mild beefy flavor. If you like beef fat, the texture could be considered pleasing, but this taco was nothing like the legendary suadero that preceded it.
Same for the pastor, which was tangy, with a soft and mealy texture. When news came out that La Banqueta closed, Neri claimed the new tenant was trying to hire his employees. Now he says only one of his coveted taqueros works at Taqueria Conin. So far, it seems one is not enough.
On the other hand, the green and red salsas are approaching a perfect copy. The green one had a little less heat and a different texture from La Banqueta's version, but they were far better than average. Use them in excess on either of those tacos and you'd have a decent meal. Skip them and you'll end up with the taco sads.
Hot sauce aside, Neri continues to build out his new La Banqueta, just across the street from Conin. Ever optimistic, he claimed the new spot should be open in just over a month. A second worker visiting the site in the late afternoon said it would be closer to two, but the truth is nobody knows but the city inspector.
Inside, a vent hood was lifted into place, and naked drywall hung on the studs. La Banqueta looked nothing like a restaurant then, but it was slowly getting closer. Outside, a man with a roller brush stood on a ladder. He used slow and deliberate strokes to apply the paint thick and clean. It was a bight and crisp yellow that reflected its hue onto the pavement beneath it. It was the color of optimism.
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