Restaurant y Taquería Lupita's:
Poorly Sexed-up Tacos

The temptation to rend clumps of facial hair as a response to a child's incessant "whys" is much like the reaction to being left hungry after a large meal. However, a little one's unbridled curiosity is difficult not to appreciate. Had I been able to ingest the trompa (lips) and buche (pig stomach) tacos, the color of condoms and the flavor of action figures -- which would have been better char-grilled instead of coming off fresh out of a microwave -- I might not have walked out of Lupita's unfulfilled.

By all accounts, my time there should have been glorious, even if I only went for lunch. The restaurant on Henderson Avenue, near popular Dallas eating and drinking establishments (e.g. Neighborhood Services Tavern, Capitol Pub and Hacienda on Henderson), is replete with images of La Virgen de Guadelupe, banners announcing pay-per-view boxing watching parties, color printouts advertising a late-night transvestite revue -- gaudy photo of overweight cross-dressers included -- ranchero musical acts and karaoke. Obviously, dinner, is prime time. It's also a long time. It extends into the wee hours when drunken parties looking to stretch the night after enjoying finer dining stumble down Henderson to join the raucous crowd at Lupita's, opened until 5 a.m. Friday and Saturdays, Or so a friend told me. Lunch, on the other hand, sees few customers.

Midday, mustachioed old men sat at the bar, elbows on the bar behind them, debating politics and bemoaning the performance of their favorite sports teams. A pair of trucker-capped, cut-off T-shirt-wearing Anglo men were more interested in the growing constellation of dishes no sooner consumed before replaced with a new entrée than the presence of a stranger. The service was pleasant. The two waitresses on duty chatted me up while I sneaked glances at the telenovela shown on flat-screen TVs. The one who took my order warned me about the buche. I should have heeded her advice.

Beyond the offal, there wasn't much to savor regarding the tacos. The tortillas cracked under the weight of the mediocre barbacoa. Barbacoa tacos of greater merit are available at Taco Cabana. The lengua, usually among my favorite tacos, was attached to rubbery fat, marginally improved by the mild salsa verde. The salsa roja was best left untouched, being nothing more than diluted Pace Picante.

Thankfully, the pastor and carne asada options were rich and smooth against the al dente tortillas. The chicharrón, curled fat back with cuts of pork nestled inside, wasn't greasy or too salty. The only thing regrettable about the latter was that I had not ordered a second chicharrón. Properly seasoned, needing neither lime nor salsa, those three tacos were reason enough to give the taquería the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure the disparate entertainment I had missed would have made my time at Lupita's more attractive.

Restaurant y Taqueria Lupita's 2107 N. Henderson Ave. 214-827-1850

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José Ralat Maldonado

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