Mexico City The Gourmet Taco: In a Word -- Awesome

The capital of our neighbor to the south isn't all kidnappings and cheap telenovela settings. Mexico City (D.F.) is cosmopolitan city en par with New York, Paris and Tokyo, with a culinary tradition to match. Heck, the entire of culinary tradition of Mexico is so important that the United Nations recently designated it an international treasure. One of its jewels is the taco al pastor.

Roasted on a vertical spit (a trompo), the pork dish has a lineage involving Lebanese immigrants and their beloved shawarma, itself a street food. Decades later, the roasted pork taco is considered the archetypal taco on both sides for the border. Mexico City transplants to Dallas have brought their traditional form of pastor with them. Chief among them El Tizoncito and Urban Taco. We can now count Mexico City The Gourmet Taco as another standard-bearer. As a matter of fact, the pastor served at David and Tony Lopez's little restaurant is the best yet. It's awesome, actually. A robust, vermilion-colored kind of awesome that leaves mouths agape in wonder. The cuts from the spiral of pork had a snap followed by creaminess and a near mouth-puckering richness. The only thing wrong with it was something I did.

The restaurant and its humble trappings are but a few months old and offer breakfast tacos, regular tacos and "Gourmet Tacos." Too late for the breakfast tacos (flour tortilla, scrambled eggs with a choice of protein), I ordered from the gourmet section, figuring the word is in the business' name. Why not? The effect the Lopez's wish to convey with their gourmet tacos is that an urban center like D.F. also has elevated versions of its most pedestrian fare. At Mexico City, gourmet means fresh and made-to-order. Even the lettuce (where I went wrong) was chopped to order in the open kitchen. Lettuce adds only a temperature and textural juxtaposition to warm meat tacos. If it's to be employed, it should be reserved for fish tacos. The potent fish taco at Mexico City unfortunately doesn't make use of the fresh lettuce. Leaving the lettuce in the taco doesn't detract from how wonderful either offering is, not to mention the succulent alambre with bits of briny crackling mixed in it. The dusting of cheese, the diced tomato and the slice of avocado in each taco didn't arrest the natural flavor of the meat. On the contrary, at Mexico City The Gourmet Taco the inclusion of those ingredients seems to work.

The bistek was the lone disappointment, being as pliant and adhesive as one of those jelly whips with a tip in the shape of hand.

Some of the menu ventures toward the Tex-Mex (hello, fajita plate), obviously a nod to the expected clientele and the years the owners have spent working in the restaurant industry, mostly in several of Dallas' major hotel. But it's the crackerjack pastor that makes a trip to this North Dallas taquería a worthy endeavor.

Mexico City The Gourmet Taco 6959 Arapaho Road, Suite 101 972-788-2891

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José Ralat Maldonado

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