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Rusty Taco -- 38 minutes for a taco?

I stopped at Rusty Taco (Greenville & University) on a recent weekday, thinking I'd grab a quick lunch. Wrong. Because they time-stamp your receipt, I can vouch for the fact that I ordered at 12:58, and didn't get my tacos until 1:36. As I waited (and waited), I watched the taco line operate -- they were working fast and hard, warming each tortilla on the grill and putting the tacos together as quickly as possible, but simply couldn't keep up with the demand. (As I was leaving, they said the wait was 1 hour. Yikes.) I'm sorry, but this place may be doomed by its success (to paraphrase Yogi Berra, no one will go there because it's too crowded). Anyway, to the tacos: the brisket was tender and had a nice mild flavor; the fish (grilled) was bland; the best was the pork, which was a great mix of tender meat and grilled rajas. The tortillas were quite good. No al pastor -- bummer. Overall, at $2 a pop, not bad; certainly, a nice low-end chowing addition to the area. But RT's tacos are not in the same ball park as Fuel City's tacos. The wait is really what killed the experience; a couple of people gave up waiting, got a refund, and walked out.

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    1. re: amokscience

      Here's the line at Shake Shack (in Madison Square Park) on a recent trip to NYC. Behind Shake Shack is Eleven Madison Park, where we had an absolutely astounding, swoon-inducing dinner -- and were invited to the kitchen to meet the chef and staff.

      1. re: Dallas Alice

        Hah, that looks like an 80-90 minute line!

        I know it's not for everyone but the 45 minute wait (on a hot, sunny July) for my first Shackburger was more than worth it. About 20 minutes into the wait I'm sweating uncomfortably (no breeze) wondering if my friend's recommendation is worth it. I stared forlornly at the empty 'custard shakes only' line.

        In the end it was easily my favorite burger ever and it was in the middle of a marathon food hopping session (Korean yangnyum (spicy fried) chicken, Belgian french fries, Chinese ice cream, coffee, and Chinese bbq duck soup noodles). One of my best days. But now I need some tacos.

        1. re: amokscience

          Personally, I never understood the popularity of the Shake Shack. My favorite burger comes from the Burger Shop in the Hotel Meridian.

          1. re: mahalan

            I was surprised. I tend to find trendy things vastly overrated (and overpriced) if not downright horrible (ie. cupcakes, macaroons) but I thought it was great. My type of burger. My brother who lives in NYC doesn't think it's particularly special either. Going back this summer!

        2. re: Dallas Alice

          11 Madison is absolutely amazing, isn't it!!!

          1. re: Mike C. Miller

            Indeed. Our most recent dinner there was ecstasy. We did the tasting menu. Each dish seemed better than the one before. They graciously did a substitution on one dish -- and the substitution was the most ethereal goat cheese gnocchi I have ever tasted. We were there for over 4 hours, and every moment was wonderful. Before the dessert courses, we were invited into the kitchen ("you need to stretch your legs") to meet the chef and staff -- and they all were as warm and welcoming as one could imagine. What a place!

      2. There's a new Taqueria on Belt LIne in Richardson between 75 and Plano Road. It's a shoot off of Amigo's restaurant I believe, it's a couple doors down. I stopped in on Sunday night and ordered three tacos, steak fajita and al pastor they were really good, double corn tortillas (the only way to do it in my opinion) three salsas and some cut up limes. They were only $1.25 each and worth every penny.

        Try them out if your up there sometime.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Dallassooner

          I agree, that place is great so far. I've been there twice. I don't think it's connected to Amigo's as I ordered a side of beans and they weren't the delicious Amigo's beans with whole beans in them, they were fully mashed refried. From now on, I just order the steak tacos. The red taco sauce is delicious and spicy - the green is milder but only so-so to me as I don't love tomatillos. The al pastor is also good.

          1. re: Dallassooner

            Thats a long stretch of road.
            Can you tell us where it is, or even the name?

          2. Life's too short to wait so long for mediocre tacos. I'll stick with my old favorites. Al Ataron, El Fuego and of course possibly the best of the bunch, El Si Hay.

            El Fuego
            1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

            1. Why would I stand in line at any taqueria, Rusty's or otherwise, for 38 mins? I am almost positive it is much like Fuzzy's or Yucatan Taco Stand in Ft Worth. Just save your money and go to better places on the north side of Fort Worth (in this case Jefferson in Oak Cliff) where they know a thing or two about Mexican food.

              BTW the tortillas at Birreria Y Taqueria Colima (Colima is a state in SW Mexico) are quite good also and the meats are even better. Those tacos only run $1.25 and they are about the size of two Fuel City tacos. The wait is about 3-5 minutes tops during the lunch rush. The tortillas are steamed and not fried which makes a considerable difference.

              Verdict - another trendy restaurant that caters to the Uptown/HP/Lakewood crowd. Should have done their homework!

              3 Replies
              1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                But in a sense they have done their homework. The location kicks ass and it's funny to watch parkies shoveling down $2 tacos in their German luxury cars because they spent their lunch break waiting in line.

                I actually went there the other day, but no wait since I got there before the queues got huge.

                1. re: LewisvilleHounder

                  If you waited fr 38 minutes you would learn that it is WORTH the wait. The roasted pork and picadilo are the real deal. The Rusty Tacos tacos ; ) are $2 and way bigger than the tiny greasy ones in dives. LewisvilleHound gave a Verdict without eating one bite at The Rusty Taco. Twinwillows says life is too short for mediocre tacos without eating one bite at The Rusty Taco. Dallas Alice ate there and thought it was good and so did I. So who you going to listen to, the people that ate there or the people that think they are too good to eat there?

                  1. re: OCNC

                    Thanks for another very insightful post, OCNC. Keep us aprised on the latest food happenings that are totally legit! You're so cool especially cuz you ate their tacos and really understand the best parts of a quality rusty taco.

                2. Unfortunately, I had the same experience when I went this week. Dry, bland meat and long waits. I don't care if they paid me $2 per taco. I'm not going back.


                  1. Ate here last Sat night. Line moved fast and the tacos came out fast. Maybe a little too fast considering I got a shrimp and a fish - they were room temp and the fish was dry. Shrimp were the small grub-like shrimp...but all in all, yes, it was $2 worth of shrimp and fish.

                    Brisket was ridiculously dry. We had to drown it in tomatillo to choke it down. Kids couldn't eat them - thankfully Jack in the Box is across the street. Margs were decent, though.

                    Food aside, parking aside...the most annoying thing about Rusty Taco is the name calling to pick up your order by some wanna-be radio announcer. "Matt with a capital M, we have your tacos. Matt, spelled M.A.T.T., we have something yummy for you." You can barely have a conversation with this insanity.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pepper131

                      That pretty much reinforces what I said in my above post. Thank you.

                    2. I've been trying to decide whether or not to go. I have trouble paying for what I can make better in my own kitchen. I might check it out before lunchtime.Maybe I'll find something magical there.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: stricken

                        I had breakfast their last weekend and it was great. Not terribly fast but good.

                      2. I saw a similar discussion on this place on Yelp.com with similarly divided opinions. I decided to try the place this afternoon for a late lunch. We got there about 4:45 p.m. No wait at all and not may people there. Our tacos were ready by the time we got our tea and had a seat. There was an army of employees on duty -- ten by my count. Things started picking up around 5:10, but I didn't see anyone have to wait for more than about three minutes. Of course we there there at an off time, but perhaps things have improved. Food was pretty good, too. Especially for the price.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Mike C. Miller

                          I think some of the kinks are getting worked out OR some of the "new" of the place has worn out and people aren't trampling down the doors anymore as some friends went last night and said it was really good and their food came out super quick.

                          1. re: Dallassooner

                            I went again on Monday evening during the dinner rush. My girlfriend had gone back home to East Texas so I though it would be a good time to see how the wait was at a more peak time. The place was much more crowed, but again, I got my food almost before I had time to get my drink and have a bite or two of chips. I watched the line while I ate, and the longest wait I saw was about two to three minutes from the end of the line to the cash register. No wait for food was longer than four of five minutes.

                            Looks like they have the service problems whipped. Better than average, but not world class tacos.

                            1. re: Mike C. Miller

                              I agree Mike. Good gringo tacos. And the service problem might have something to do with the staff change in the kitchen.


                        2. I finally made it there for the first time yesterday, and I gotta say I was disappointed - even after developing fairly low expectations based on the comments in this thread. I tried three tacos: rajas, fish (fried) and picadillo. Mushrooms on the rajas were nice, but the tacos were spoiled by too much sweetness - the flavor profile reminded me more of Italian food than of Mexican. Did not enjoy. The fish taco had a shot at being good... the fish was nicely fried and crisp-not-greasy, but the flavor was overwhelmed by the overly rich, heavy mayonnaise condiment. This would have been much better (in my opinion) if they had just used a drizzle of crema and some of their red salsa. The picadillo was by far the best of the three - a bit too salty, but otherwise ok. On all of the tacos, the tortillas seemed a bit on the stale side - as did the chips, which started out tasting unimpressive but ok... and finished with a pasty texture that reminded me of (shudder) baked tortilla chips.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: gavlist

                            Fully agree with you, especially on the tortillas. Despite whatever any source says, I don't recall seeing a press, or any indicator to imply the tortillas are made in house.

                            1. re: air

                              I wwent there today and their menu says WE MAKE OUR OWN TORTILLAS RIGHT HERE. You don't call that an indicator?

                              1. re: OCNC

                                I think he means that the tortillas themselves looked like mass-produced tortillas. No irregularities that you'd associate with hand made tortillas, and not the freshness or quality that you'd expect of tortillas made on the premises. At least, those were my observations.

                                1. re: gavlist

                                  Heading that way today...in recommendations on what to get? I'm a sucker for good flour tortillas (the handmade ones at Luna's, or even...gasp, taco cabana)!

                                  1. re: farrelindallas

                                    I would skip the rajas... the picadillo and fish taco were good enough - although you might want to ask them to hold the sauce on the fish (I think you can add your own from a squeeze bottle near the pickup counter). I didn't try the flour tortillas, so can't comment.

                                    1. re: gavlist

                                      See what Dallas Dude said. He SAW them making the tortillas.

                                      1. re: OCNC

                                        Well they sure don't taste or look fresh.

                                        1. re: air

                                          could be that when you were there, they had made a bunch earlier in the day in prep, and didn't store them real well.

                                          1. re: luniz

                                            could be. Or maybe they got too busy to make them fresh and opened up a bag. Regardless, if they made the tortillas that I ate by hand, they should just save themselves some effort and buy them from a store - they weren't any better.

                                            1. re: gavlist

                                              Its your God given right as a chowhound to demand fresh torts. If they are not fresh ask them to try again. Then ask to see the presses.

                                              1. re: DallasDude

                                                yeah... or just to not patronize an establishment with mediocre (in my opinion) tacos. I'm not going to avoid the place, but haven't seen anything that makes me want to return. I should, and probably will, give them another try at some point, but I'm not rushing over there. Which were your favorite tacos? Any idea if they also make the flour tortillas by hand?

                              2. Well, for gringo tacos i have had good experiences at Rusty's. But I call em for what they are. I actually saw them being pressed in the kicthen (back) on my first visit. Rusty said that was the easiest part of the operation and a no brainer. I DO know they fired their experienced help recently for cheaper line cooks. They seem to be faster.

                                We also read today on D or DMN (forget) that Rusty is about to take the operation to a chain level, but certainly no suprise there. He grinned when I asked him if that was his intent in a pre-opening interview (dumb question but i enjoyed the beam in his face when I asked.).

                                Take it for what it is. Cheap beer, cool location cute chiquitas. And tacos. I think I already said that somewhere on Chow.

                                1. I had a similar experience at Rusty Taco. Long wait, average tacos. I did hear earlier this week from a friend that they have significantly improved. Not sure if that means fewer people go so there is less of a wait or if they fixed something else. I haven't gone back, but will probably give them another shot at some point.

                                  1. Make sure to get there before 11 if you want breakfast. We got there around 10:30 on a Sunday and after we ate, I wanted to order a taco to go. I was kindly told they had stopped serving breakfast. When I checked my phone to see what time it was, it was exactly 11. Pretty ridiculous if you ask me. I believe they were still making breakfast tacos for other people that had come in a bit earlier (unless they had ordered lunch.) As for the tacos, the fillings were tasty but the tortillas were far from good. Tasted a lot like the ones you get from the bottom shelf at the grocery store.

                                    1. Went there yesterday well after lunch and there was no wait. I tried two # 4's- chicken in ranchero with corn tortillas and one # 9 pork with corn tortillas...also a side of queso and guac. Chicken was good not great...the chunks of chicken were a bit large and maybe a little dry, but i really did like the pork taco. I wish i had gotten three # 9's instead. i think if you go without a wait, the tacos are worth it, but i would't wait in an outrageously long line for them.