Eat This: Tacos al Vapor at Taco Rico

A Styrofoam plate never looked so good.
A Styrofoam plate never looked so good. Taylor Adams
It was the day after November’s time change, and suddenly nighttime felt a lot earlier.

It seemed sleep should arrive much sooner and, admittedly, there wasn’t much motivation of any kind to get things rolling for the upcoming week: Sitting around doing nothing and possibly ordering some food of any kind for delivery appeared to be a fine fit.

Thankfully, instead of doing that, there was the option to go a bit south and get our hands messy with tacos al vapor.

Having just had this type of taco in Monterrey, Mexico, the idea of some of these tacos just down the road in Oak Cliff suddenly made everything feel better.

click to enlarge The exterior of Taco Rico on that first early nightfall of autumn. - TAYLOR ADAMS
The exterior of Taco Rico on that first early nightfall of autumn.
Taylor Adams
Before you step in wearing your mask, take note it’s cash only. You’ll walk through the dining room lit brightly enough for surgery to the order counter. On our Sunday night visit, there were few people sitting in the dining room, and takeout is an option, of course.

Start with a few tacos with desebrada (shredded beef and potato) or frijol (bean).

There’s something about these tacos, piled neatly on the Styrofoam plate, that makes it so easy to eat a good number of them. Maybe it’s purely the flavor and texture; maybe it’s the wait time between tacos as you stuff each one with a plethora of shredded cabbage and tomato; maybe it’s because the oily tortilla helps them go down with great ease. Whatever it is, it can make you love them more.

click to enlarge You'll be able to tell these are fried in-house. - TAYLOR ADAMS
You'll be able to tell these are fried in-house.
Taylor Adams
The process for these tacos starts by taking small corn tortillas and bathing them in oil and guiso runoff. They are then filled with the guiso of your choice and steamed, making them tacos de vapor.

Open one, fill with as much crisp cabbage and tomato as you can, drizzle some green or red salsa, add a splash of lime, and there you have it.

And if you dine in, don’t bother saving room by not going for the chips and salsa. The fried-in-house chips are crisp and wonderfully thin to scoop some of the spicy salsa.

Or, get your tacos al vapor in a takeout container so you can make a mess of your hands and get your comfort food fill in the privacy and safety of your own home. Either way, you won’t regret your order.

Taco Rico, 2850 W. Clarendon Drive (Oak Cliff). Open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.