Taco King: Our First Stop on The Taco Trail

Welcome to the Taco Trail, dedicated to one of the favorite fixations of Dallasites, tacos in all their glorious variations. Although preference will be given to those taquerias accessible by  public transportation, be it DART rail or bus or a combination of the two, The Taco Trail will navigate all of Dallas by whatever means necessary to find the best of Big D's tacos. So, let's get a move on. Adelante on the Taco Trail!

Supermarkets. Parks. Restaurants. Bars. Those are all thing important things to have in proximity when deciding on an apartment or house. The most important to me, however, is proximity to taquerias. Living within walking distance (approximately 10 blocks) or within a few train stations of a taqueria is a necessity. I won't choose a hacienda to call my own if there aren't corn tortillas being slapped around by meats of dubious providence nearby. When the wife and I were looking for a Dallas apartment after moving from Brooklyn, one of my criteria was just that. A quick Google maps search for "tacos" found Taco King at the intersection of Park Lane and Ridgecrest Road. It's  housed in a wee bungalow of chipping paint, is a short jaunt from the DART Park Lane stop or a quick ride on the 502 bus from the train station.

The entrance faces Park Lane, where there is a covered patio bordered by a decaying wooden fence. A patch of grass beyond via a creaky, tilted gate and suitable for the adventurous child to burn off the four three-bite tacos inhaled moments before. The tacos are equally energizing for adults. And yet, of the more than 10 tacos on the menu, all for less than a dollar, the prime was the lengua. One bite and I was transported back in time to my first kiss. Goosebumps rose. My heart raced. I wanted more. I got more.

The barbacoa is the most popular taco at Taco King, according to Yelpers. Rightly so, it was indeed among the best I've had -- even if it is beef. (Goat is still superior, and if you know where I can find some, please tell me.)

Chicken tacos are more often than not little better than a rubber chicken. That can't be said about Taco King's pollo guisado. It was surprisingly tasty, rich and smooth. The carnitas, however, were not. While the pork was shredded beautifully, the meat was dry and tough. No amount of the traditional garnishes (limes, cilantro, raw onion) served alongside the tacos in the plastic baskets could free it from the inferno of the inedible. If the other tacos weren't so outstanding, I would have remembered the salsa. It might have saved the carnitas.

Much to my chagrin, the chorizo and chicharrón tacos had already sold out. Chorizo and chicharrón tacos are the most inconsistently produced. If there were two taquerias side by side and both provided said tacos, one would invariably suck as much as my beloved New York Mets. The missed opportunity to sample those tacos is why I plan to return, not to mention the roasted lamb listed on the shop's business card-sized takeout menu.

If you look up from the chips display, you'll notice a missing ceiling tile. Through the hole can be seen a faded stained-glass window in the attic wall. The midday sun shone through it onto the counter's warming pans, illuminating that although some tacos weren't available and one left me wishing I hadn't ordered it, Taco King deserves a spot on the Taco Trail.

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José Ralat Maldonado

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