Tacos Y Mas and Chichen Itza: Double Trouble

Marvelous things can be seen from a bus seat. When I lived in New York, riding the city buses was an exciting thing. The drivers in their cars didn't know what they were missing. I was a passenger but I wasn't passive. I would take notes as I rode by dive bars, bodegas, tchotche shops. That's how I came across Bierkraft, one of my favorite stores in Brooklyn and a purveyor of fine craft beers, including growlers.

Several times while riding the bus from Oak Cliff toward home, I would spy Tacos Y Mas, a stand in the parking lot of a car wash and a CVS. It always had a line. After a recent visit, however, I can't understand why people line up for the tacos -- neither can I understand how D Magazine could nominate them as serving among the breakfast tacos in Dallas. The only flavorful element in the regurgitated slop called the chorizo breakfast taco filling was the bright orange cheese that could have been part of child's kitchen set -- and that was a salty mess.

Only two tacos had anything resembling tastiness. The first was the rubbery shrimp, and only then because of the liberal dousing of pepper. The shrimp ignited revolting licks of flames at the base of gums. The second was the barbacoa. Greasy with decent stringy texture, it was the sole taco I could see myself returning for. The pastor was diced to a hair's width short of disintegration with no hint of citric sweetness from a pineapple. The carnitas could have used some of the chorizo's salinity.

Distraught, I began walking north on Greenville Avenue, looking for a cheap watering hole at which to forget my taco sadness. What I found was Chichen Itza, a taquería/tortería/panadería housed in a sparse brick building. The pastor and Milanesa tacos I ordered were further failures. The pastor was days old and the Milanesa, breaded chicken cutlet, was once frozen. The white corn tortillas were weak and tore under the weight of the filling, which included a promising but later realized to be deflating white sauce. The friend who had met me at Chichen Itza later called to say her stomach was punishing her for patronizing that shop on Lower Greenville. I apologized. I too was sorry that day was a terrible taco day.

Tacos Y Mas 5419 Ross Ave. 214-824-8079

Chichen Itza 5745 Richmond Ave. 214-828-0197

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José Ralat Maldonado