All week at City of Ate, we celebrate the magic of the taco. Check back for more interviews, essays and maybe a list or two. Or maybe four?
There are many great taquerias in Dallas. There are also many taco poseurs. Weeding out the bad places from the good ones is part of the fun of taco adventuring, but we don't want you going out there flying completely blind. It's a waste of your precious taco time.
There are certain qualities that every good taqueria must have. The special, secret ingredients that make their tacos delicious. Things about the taqueria that say, "Hey! I'm fucking great. Come try my tacos and understand the meaning of life, bitches!"
Should you find yourself in a new-to-you taqueria some time soon, asking yourself, "Is this taqueria going to be a good taqueria?" refer to this handy quiz, and you'll know your fate before the al pastor even hits your lips. (Note: If there's no al pastor available, just give yourself a score of 0 right now and skip to the end.)
QUIZ: Am I In A Kickass Taqueria?
1) Is there a shitty tire shop within visible distance? (Yes = +1 pt ; No = 0 pts)
2) Is there air conditioning? (Yes = -4 pts ; No = +4 pts)
3) Do you see a faded mural on the building? (Yes = +2 pts, +1 for each additional mural if there are multiple murals; No = 0 pts)
4) Does this taqueria accept major credit cards? (Yes = -4pts ; No = +4 pts)
5) Are styrofoam containers filled with cilantro, limes and onions in addition to the obvious taco pile used here? (Yes = +2 pts ; No = 0 pts)
6) Do you see any construction workers eating here on their lunch break? (Yes = +1 pt ; No = 0 pts)
7) Is there a squeeze bottle of green salsa sauce stuff around anywhere? (Yes = +1 pt ; No = 0 pts)
8) Is Coca-Cola available in a glass bottle here? (Yes = +1 pt; No = 0 pts)
9) Do you see tacos wrapped in double-corn tortillas? (Yes = +1 pt; No = 0 pts)
10) Is the menu here hand-written in Sharpie? (Yes = +1 pt; No = 0 pts)
11) Is there a gas station attached to your taqueria? (Yes = +1 pt; No = 0 pts)
12) Is there a long line at your taqueria? (Yes = -2 pts; No = +2 pts)
13) Does your taqueria also offer something completely random, like snocones, or cheeseburgers or chicken fingers? (Yes = +1; No = 0 pts)
14) Is any single taco on the menu here over $4? (Yes = -2 pts; No = +5 pts)
Calculate your score, and find out whether or not you're in a kickass taqueria!
(-12 to 7 points) You are not in a kickass taqueria. ABORT! ABORT! ABORT TACO MISSION! You have landed yourself at a taqueria that will not deliver your face the best tacos in Dallas. They might be OK, but they will certainly not be traditionally kickass. Leave this taqueria and find one with a crappier mural, stat.
(8 to 20 points) There's a slight chance you might be in a kickass taqueria. You've either found a hidden gem, or you're in a place that's too shiny and new to be really, really good. Order something traditional here, like tacos al pastor or chorizo or just straight up beef. Go out on a limb once you know you're safe.
(21 to 27+ points) Congratulations! You are most definitely inside a kickass taqueria! Order the Everything! Pat yourself on the back and eagerly await your blissful taco coma.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.