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Dec 13, 2011 02:49 PM

Tacos in Dallas are shameful

Look, I know Tex Mex is big here and that's fine. But why is it? Why is it virtually ever single Mexican Food Restaurant has taco bell type, preformed, premade , crappy taco shells? I mean, I think I can count on one hand, the restaurants the actually deep fry and make their own taco shells. And that is very important in setting apart a taco from a great taco.

Mariana's Taco Shop in Frisco is one of the few and they are EXCELLENT. Southern California style. I just happened to read about this "Taco Joint" in Orange CA and they have a picture of the tacos and there they are......homemade deep fried taco shells. Not the cheap preformed premade taco bell shells which are in even the more upscale Mexican Restaurants here.

I Just don't get it. Take a look at these tacos in Orange CA. Those are Tacos. And so are the ones in Mariana's Taco Shop in Frisco, which happens to be the best Mexican Food place I have yet eaten at here. Excellent!

Mariana's Taco Shop
6890 W Main St, Frisco, TX 75034

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  1. You see how the taco shell is kind of crooked? Not perfectly straight like a taco bell shell? When it's crooked , it's a sign they deep fried it there, it's homemade, their own way, fresh. It didn't come in a box from some vendor. You see that?

    1. Do we have to do the Cali ad-nauseum crap again????? Here's a news flash. You're in TEXAS.

      23 Replies
      1. re: CocoaNut

        Yeah, I know, and Texas is great but dayum........don't they believe in anything other than preformed, premade, prepared, preboxed taco shells? Seriously, how come anyone hasn't ever said anything about this?

        1. re: Eddiehaskell7

          Yes, they do. Fried crunchy taco shells are unauthentic crap, whether made on premises or machine issued, and that seems to be all you are looking for. They are not Tex-Mex, they are not Mexican. Maybe they fly on street corners in East LA. I certainly have not had one in 9 months in Dallas.

          Go try the brisket tacos on soft harina tortillas at either of the Blue Goose Cantinas, and tell us what you think. Or Coquitas. Or Mesa. Or Agave Azul. Or Calle Doce. Or the seafood crepes at Nuevo Leon. And then we can tell you about 30 other places.You are looking for taco love in all the wrong places. It won't happen for $3.99 at a drive through window.

          1. re: Veggo

            Yes, they are shameful. But, I have to laugh. After all the blogging about great tacos in Dallas you're still eating "gringo" Tacos.
            A few suggestions for truly great authentic Mexican Tacos......
            El Tizoncito on Walnut Hill or Oak cliff. They serve authentic Mexico City style tacos Al Pastore cut from a Trombo.
            El Guero on Gaston or Bryan street. Gaston is more comfortable. Have the Suadero tacos.
            El Si Hay on Davis Street in Oak Cliff
            El Paisanita on Inwood just north of Maple.
            El Ateron on Henderson.
            The prices for tacos at the above places run anywhere from a $1.10 to $1.35 each!
            These few I mentioned are among the best in Dallas.
            Try them and then come back and talk tacos to us.

            1. re: twinwillow

              It may not be exactly Fuel City but at least I have Chitos not too far from where I live here in Plano!

              I occasionally eat lunch at Tacos Y Mas, a little Taco stand on the corner of Ross and Greenville. Not bad, again maybe not Fuel City but not bad.

              I drive by El Paisanita on Inwood every once in awhile so note to self; stop and eat lunch there sometime.

              1. re: RobbnTX

                El Paisanita is more comfortable now that they have "indoor" seating. Used to be, you had to stand and eat outside the shack a la El Si Hay.

                Of the list I mentioned above, El Tizoncito is easiest, the best of the bunch considering it's modern, comfortable setting. They give you an "Amuse Bouche" of a small bowl of (some of the best in town) bean soup to start.
                I usually order the Tacos Al Pastore "Alhambre".
                Have a look at their menu. I prefer the original Oak Cliff location but the new one on Forest Lane just west of Marsh Lane near Webbs Chapel is more convenient for me.
                Google El Tizoncito and read the Yelp and other reviews.

                1. re: twinwillow

                  El Paisanita also has a location on Maple with very pleasant indoor seating.

                  1. re: OaklawnKaren

                    Yes, We've been there and it's very good but, we still prefer the "shack" they have on Inwood just north of Maple. It's more, "Mexico City" style.

                2. re: RobbnTX

                  Not sure what part of Plano you are in, but if you're ever on the east side, grab some great tacos & tamales from inside the Chevron station at Shiloh & 14th Street.

                3. re: twinwillow

                  Hi Twin,
                  have been enjoying your posts. I'm from Cleveland and will be in Dallas starting tomorrow for a few days. Which of these places have a good margarita that doesn't taste like the fake sour mix swill at my local bars. Thanks for the info.

                  1. re: djfrizz

                    The best hand crafted 'rita made with love that I have had in the area is at Agave Azul in Carrollton, and they have a beautiful bar room separate from the dining area. Special order or ingredients, they'll get it right. Good food, also.

                    1. re: djfrizz

                      For excellent Mexico City style tacos and above average Margaritas, I would highly recommend El Tizoncito.
                      With three locations in Dallas to choose from, El Tizoncito is not a "shack" but a modern, comfortable restaurant with excellent attentive service.


                      Another place you might want to try is the recently opened, El Campuzano on lower Oak Lawn. The food is very good but, I did not try their Margarita. However, it's a first class Mexican restaurant.


                      1. re: djfrizz

                        Agave Azul is a good tex mex restaurant, but not known for tacos.

                        If you're looking for good tacos as listed in this thread, most of the places recommended here do not serve alcohol.

                        El Tizoncito is the only one I can think of that does. Personally, I wasn't a fan of their margaritas (they do use a mix, but not as awful as some).

                        1. re: Webra1

                          Webra, I'm not a big Margarita drinker so I should not be considered an "expert".

                          I am however, a big taco eater. And as such, please click on the link for my new favorite Mexico City style taco joint. Not a "shack" but a modern, clean taco restaurant family owned and run. They're all very friendly and helpful.

                          At El Come Taco, I recently switched from my (now former favorite) brisket and chorizo tacos ($1.50) to one of their "special" ($3.00) tacos consisting of griddled chicken pieces and assorted peppers in an amazingly tasty light sauce.
                          A must have!

                          They do not serve alcohol.

                          Note all the positive reviews....

                          1. re: twinwillow

                            Hey TW, thanks for the tip on El Come. I've been wanting ot go there for a few weeks, now I'm going to make sure I do so soon.

                            I have a quick semantics question that I wanted to clarify. Is there a difference between Mexico City style tacos and just Mexican tacos? I wasn't sure if that meant something more specific. Either way, I'm very much on board with not using the term "street tacos" which is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

                            1. re: demigodh

                              I have lived in different parts of Mexico, and I also wondered about "Mexico City style". I'm guessing they are more likely to be meat filled, rather than the fairly common fish or shrimp tacos along the Pacific, Baja, or the Yucatan.

                              1. re: demigodh

                                The term "street tacos" is used in Mexico City because the tacos are usually sold at a counter that's open to the street. "Mexico City style" tacos are Al Pastor pork tacos that are sliced off of a Trompo (spit) just inside an open street counter.
                                Note the Trompo in the left hand corner of the picture as an example.



                                1. re: twinwillow

                                  Thanks, I'll go with that although tacos al pastor are widely available throughout Mexico. A pineapple on top of the trompo spindle is always a good sign!

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    If I'm not mistaken, Al Pastor tacos sliced from a Trompo originally started in Mexico City after the idea was copied from the Lebanese expats who used a "spit" to make shwarma. Of course, they never used pork. Just chicken, lamb, and beef.

                                    1. re: twinwillow

                                      Interesting. At Pastorcita in PDC Q. Roo, a pastor man slices off the crisped pork into a tortilla in his hand, and then flicks a piece of pineapple off with his knife, spins around, and catches the pineapple in the taco behind his back. Amusing to watch, and he gets good tips. The guy is good!

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        We should get a video of him doing that. There must be one on YouTube!

                                2. re: demigodh

                                  Don't be too concerned about using the term "street tacos". It's quite commonly used......

                                  1. re: demigodh

                                    There are tons of different taco styles in Mexico, and also a ton of different taco styles just in Mexico City, one thing in common is that they all are served in soft tortillas. Taco shells are not for real tacos, you can't even get them in Mexico City, the closest would be tostadas and that completely different thing.
                                    The most common street tacos would be something like suadero (brisket) like the ones you can get at Come Taco (which in my opinion are some of the best in Dallas).
                                    The king of tacos in Mexico City is the Taco al Pastor, which basically is anatto marinated pork slowly roasted in a vertical spit served with pineapple, onion, cilantro, lime and salsa. You can find several al pastor taquerias in Dallas but nothing comes close to the real thing. I think the reason is that the FDA won't allow raw pork to be unrefrigerated for long in the roaster, so the results are not the same.
                                    Some other taco styles in Mexico City are Tacos de Guisado, Tacos de canasta, Tacos campechanos (villamelon style), and several others.
                                    I recommend reading Nick Gilman's blog on Mexico city's food, I think it's amazing!

                    2. From, a list of fried-to-order crispy tacos:

                      "Closed" style crispy tacos:
                      - Mia's
                      - Rafa's Cafe
                      - Mi Cocina
                      - The Loon
                      - El Fenix
                      - Luna de Noche
                      - La Jaivita
                      - Primo's
                      - Avila's
                      - Carolina's Mexican Cuisine

                      "Open" style crispy tacos:
                      - Gonzalez Restaurant
                      - Pepe's & Mito's
                      - Mattito's
                      - Desperados
                      - Escondido Restaurant
                      - Tupinamba Restaurant
                      - Las Ranitas
                      - La Palapa Veracruzana (no longer available)
                      - Taqueria Arandero

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Dallas Alice

                        Please note, the restaurants I listed above your post are not "Tex-Mex" restaurants but Mexican restaurants serving authentic Mexico City style "soft" corn or flour tacos.

                        IMHO, the very best "gringo" (soft) tacos being served in Dallas are at Velvet Taco at Henderson and 75 or,
                        Good 2 Go Tacos on Peavy Road just off Garland Road in East Dallas. Both of these places serve excellent upscale and unusual (soft) tacos. They're priced in the $4.00-$5.00 each range.
                        But, they're all larger and more elaborate than Mexico City style tacos.

                          1. re: Dallas Alice

                            Alice, an "open" style crispy tacos is actually a tostada.

                          2. The original comment has been removed
                            1. I must be missing something. Here In Dallas years ago, the only Mexican food I ate was Tex-Mex, (a La, El Fenix) the tacos were all deep fried and crispy, folded corn tacos. Then, I discovered the true Mexico City style tacos offered at the little Mexican taquerias sprinkled all over the Hispanic populated areas in Dallas and Oak Cliff. They serve the soft tacos Barbara described above as the tacos she ate in California. Somewhat "smallish" double soft corn tacos filled with a little meat of choice, onions and cilantro and a squish of lime. That's it! You put a little red or green hot sauce or, both on them and you're ready to enjoy taco heaven. I haven't eaten a lot of California style Mexican food but what I have eaten does not compare to the Mexican food found here in Dallas.
                              Btw, the crispy "open" style corn taco as described by Alice above is actually a "tostada"

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: twinwillow

                                I've always known these (wonderful) tacos typically referred to as "street tacos". Whatever they're called and where-ever they're "from", they're usually pretty good...... but just because they're made in this fashion or the establishment has "taqueria" signage certainly does not mean they're worthy of the praise sometime bestowed generically upon all. I'm sure most of them don't have a little grandma in back hand-making those tortillas.

                                That said, sometimes, the mouth wants a crispy taco - bought or made fresh, soft or fried, if it's fresh tasting and doesn't taste like cardboard, I'm good with that.

                                If you're ever in Grapevine, don't miss El Taco H in the JoAnne's shopping center.

                                1. re: twinwillow

                                  Isn't Mexican food much like Italian food, where there is no standard fare throughout the country, it is much more by region? What you find in Milan is totally different than Sicily. I've been watching Chuck Hughes' "Chuck's Week Off" as he's driving across Mexico and I think he's showing the same thing.

                                  Out of the nine of us that work together every single day, only three of us are non-hispanic. Today I got another nice compliment on my cooking of Mexican dishes, so I must be doing something right :)

                                  1. re: Barbara76137

                                    Barbara, That show make me sooooo hungry!