After a 20-year career in psychology, last year Emilia Flores decided she wanted to change paths. "I want to nourish people in a different way now," she says.
So, she opened the Taco Stop at 1900 Irving Blvd. this February and, on most days, you'll find Flores on the other side the small sliding screen window where she takes orders and passes out fresh hot tacos.
The Taco Stop brings something different to the traditional taco stand, primarily through its flavors, which offer something subtly different and refreshing. Ingredients are thoughtful, simple and everything is made to order. In the small kitchen a single cook pushes meat and vegetables around a large griddle. The wait is never more than five minutes -- a tribute to their straightforward approach.
"Fresh ingredients, cooked to order, quickly is my goal," said Flores, "We slow-cook our barbacoa in banana leaves and bay leaves and trim off the fat, so they're never greasy. Also, our tacos are really not very big, which some people don't like. So, sometimes guys order four, but honestly we don't need a half of pound of tacos at every meal."
The prime rib tacos are grilled in a "magic onion" marinade, which is indeed magic. There's a unique flavor that I couldn't pinpoint and asked about it, but unfortunately Flores isn't giving out any family recipes. She joked, "If I tell you, then it won't be a secret."
She would tell me, however, that it's house-made and comes together on the grill and includes a mix of sautéed Serrano peppers, yellow onions and a little bacon.
In the end, the thinly sliced prime rib does a tango with the marinade, which is wrapped in a fresh, warm tortilla. They are amazing and if you can nail down the hint of unique flavor in those, please share.
The chicken alambre tacos are a bit of a hot mess. They come with chorizo, sautéed bell peppers and cilantro. They have a sharp bite, and you'll need about 72 napkins and a large drink by the time you're done with them. These are not for driving and eating.
Their veggie tacos are also great. The spinach and red bell pepper aren't overworked and retain a little crunch.
I've tried both their flour and corn tortillas, and as a matter of personal preference mostly lean towards to the flour. Both are swiped across the griddle for extra flavor before being packed up. The corn tortillas are gluten free (if you have an intolerance, ask Flores when ordering, as she seems very aware of those sensitivities).
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Other menu highlights include the hangover cure, which Scott Reitz wrote about in February as a "warm cup of sustenance," and its only fault was the small cup -- he would have preferred a take home Thermos.
Three tacos will cost you $4.95, or a single for $1.70.
For now, they're open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. As the weather breaks a bit, she's considering a Sunday brunch. They do catering, and you can call in your orders ahead if you're in a pinch: 972-971-4859.
The full menu of both breakfast and lunch tacos is online.