There's a lot of hubub about the tacos served at Stampede 66, but I'm having a hard time embracing the enthusiasm. First of all, they start at $4 a piece, pricy no matter how good the service is at Stephan Pyles' latest restaurant, but they also lack the authentic, gritty edge I've come to expect from tacos.
See also: - This Week's Review: Bright Lights at Stampede 66
When Pyles traveled to Mexico, presumably to research ingredients and techniques for his new menu, he tweeted pictures of crickets and posted messages about huitlacoche. Certainly the chef is free to change a restaurant concept as often as he likes, but pointers to those two ingredients illuminate how much is being left on the table here.
There's huitlacoche on the menu in a tamale, but it's a shadow of it's former self, emulsified into a gray, creamy sauce that does little to evoke the musky, mushroom flavors that give this delicacy the nickname "Mexican truffle."
I'd love to find a chef willing to embrace huitlacoche for what it is, a robustly flavored delicacy that should be celebrated on its own instead of hidden as a backdrop for other similar flavors.
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And imagine a restaurant serving cricket tacos in downtown Dallas. Can't you see the polished ladies wearing Louboutins, struggling with the tip of a toothpick to remove a cricket leg from their teeth? OK, that one's a bit of a stretch, but if you've come to appreciate the nutty flavor of roasted crickets you'll lament this lost opportunity too.