Taqueria Habanero Delivers the Burn

Dallas is dotted with a number of exemplary taquerias -- the ones that are worth a drive if you don't live or work within walking distance, or even worth a trip on DART. A life-changing taco will only set you back a dollar and change, which is an investment worth hunting down. But for every taqueria that peddles in magic there are scores more that are merely pleasing. They are still a part of the taco tapestry, though, and this is how most of Dallas gets its lunch.

Habanero Taqueria is of the latter sort. It's worth stumbling in for a medio litro and a few tacos if you're on the west side of Dallas, but not really worth a cross-town jaunt. If you've driven by on Jefferson Boulevard, the place is hard to miss as you cross Cockrell Hill Road. A massive mural of a fountain is painted on the wall, with a levitating habanero chili wearing a sombrero -- he's either very happy or very stoned.

Inside there's more art, but you're here for the trompo, which spins on the weekends and when supplies are low. The trompo was idle when I showed up on a Monday but the woman behind the counter assured me everything would be fine. I ordered two and then two more stuffed with fajita beef on her recommendation. I added a tripe at the last second. "Some people love it," she said when I asked.

I am one of those people. While the sight of a cook running water through a length of intestines like a garden hose once terrified me, I now take great pleasure in calf intestines. Well rinsed and cooked to a crisp they're quite delicious. Here, they're cut into slightly longer tubes than I'm used to. They looked like macaroni.

My fajita meat had a case of the Mondays, but the pastor was good, even if it was shaved from the trompo the day before. The meat was crispy and juicy at the same time and mingled with onions cooked till they were sweet. The real surprise was the green salsa, which was as spicy as you'd expect given the restaurant's mascot. I coughed at my first bite, and then settled in for a long, lingering burn. Muy picante, hermano.

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