La Paisanita Taqueria, Where the Tacos Shine Like the Asphalt Around You

La Paisanita Tacqueria 2505 Inwood Road 214-351-3232

Dude Factor: 9, or a Ford Ranchero, on a scale of 1 (Ford Fiesta) to 10 (Chevy El Camino)

There are, give or take, 98 taquerias lining Maple Avenue between the Observer offices at Oak Lawn and La Paisanita's taco shack in a strip mall parking lot on Inwood. Turns out, one of those in between is also called La Paisanita -- painted up the same and sporting the same menu board out front -- something we noticed only after multiple runs to the parking-lot shack.

After carting back a load of barbacoa, al pastor and lengua on a taco run a few weeks back, word had spread around the office when we announced we'd be making a return trip. Forgotten co-workers long given up for lost at sea -- or worse, turned to a life of microwaving frozen lunches at the office -- crawled into the daylight to throw down their five bucks and a taco order scratched across a Post-It note.

All told, our combined order amounted to 32 tacos, two gorditas and a single quesadilla, plus a pair of Mexican Cokes. Even with the big order, that little taco shack, with one woman taking orders and one guy in back to fix the food, turned around some mean greasy, spicy tacos -- and for barely more than a buck apiece. Taco performance has been so solid at this parking lot stand, I'd feel like a fool to stop at the bigger, maybe even quicker storefront location up Maple. Why risk it?

La Paisanita turned our orders around faster than many taquerias around town, but time does seem to slow down when you're waiting on tacos. Especially in the summer heat a tall, frosty bottle of Mexican Coke goes a long way to passing the time. (There's nobody selling elotes to help cut your hunger in the mean time.)

Once we'd returned to work and the taco distribution took place, there was general agreement that the barbacoa and pastor meat was some of the best in Dallas' taco universe. One of the beneficiaries of our office taco run wondered out loud about the meat's true origins, which was a little distracting until the conversation took its natural turn toward raising slugs at home, and monkey attacks to the face.

These were some mighty greasy tacos -- with every bite, the al pastor dribbled a little waterfall of bright red taco juice into my tray. The gordita filling included a couple pieces of throwaway gristle-fat, but for tacos this fast and cheap, that all seemed about right.

In a city full of decent ultra-cheap tacos, La Paisanita's a real standout, and best of all, you never know where you're going to run into one next.

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