Taco El Viajero Should Make the List of the Top Taquerias in Town

Discovering a taqueria is like finding your own secret place. And not the place everyone on Chowhound is raving about, such as El Fuego, Fuel City, or Chitos.

No, I mean the one you stumble on by accident while doing your routine morning rounds. Suddenly you hear your stomach growling incessantly then demanding "I Need Food Now"; you spot this place, and say why not. After partaking, all is bliss, the day is brighter and all is right with the world. In this case, a colleague clued me in to the wonderful cuisine of Tacos El Viajero, which actually features Mexican and Peruvian dishes. So, having little but their business card and Google maps to guide me, I made my way south, not to the border, but to Webb Chapel.

Like most taquerias, Tacos El Viajero can be tricky to spot from the street; luckily I had a blurry picture from Google maps to assist. Once in the vicinity, look for the festive green and red Supermercado sign to guide you--this storefront joint is wedged into a tiny space next door. The place has a flat-out festive, interior, with turquoise walls, large picture menu near the entrance, and a TV blaring telenovelas and Mexican variety shows nearby. It helps break the ice if you know a few words of Spanish, but if not, don't fret; the smiling waitress will cheerfully summon the owner/chef, who knows a few words of English. Just smile, say "menu?" and be prepared to point. Trust me, the food will be worth the trouble.

It might come as a shock to some diners unfamiliar to the world of taquerias that, yes, sometimes the food can be quite average. Luckily, that's not the case at Tacos El Viajero. Lomo Saltado is a Peruvian dish developed by Chinese immigrants to the country and it combines the best flavors of Latin America and Asia into one hearty meal. Typically, sirloin strips are marinated in vinegar and soy sauce, then stir-fried with tomatoes, red onions, parsley, peppers and other spices, not to mention yellow potatoes, all of which may be served with rice. Viajero's version is thankfully light on the soy sauce but its portion size is otherwise generous. Imagine fajitas served with potatoes and you've got the idea. If you need extra zip, just add a touch of the assertive salsa and you'll be set.

Better still are the tacos, which are Viajero's mainstay, and at five bucks for three served with rice and beans, you've got yourself quite a bargain. There are about a dozen meat options, so I chose lengua (on my colleague's recommendation), chorizo, chicharrones, and pastor. The latter are basically fried pork rinds, which I've never really cared for, but these were moist and tasty, in fact, some diners may find a little too much liquid on both them and the chorizo. Nevertheless, if you persevere, you will discover the flavor to be quite excellent, particularly the robust chorizo. The lengua was tender and thankfully not too fatty and lived up to my friend's praises. (When he visits their Oak Cliff location, that's what he orders.) But the pastor was the clear winner, each bite swarthy and robust. And yes, the waitress does understand "To Go Box," but she got a little confused when I asked for the bill, until I remembered to say "cheque" and she brought it right out.

Regretfully, Viajero offers no ice tea, so merely walk to the cooler to get your beverage or ask for agua.

Service is eager to please; as soon as they can figure out what you want, they will bring it as quickly as possible. Better still,Tacos El Viajero sports an elote stand out front, which offers the fresh corn-in-a-cup dish starting about 12:30 p.m. Just one more reason for me to return to my new secret place.

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Chris Meesey