Lee and I were driving downtown yesterday, later than I had wanted to go, it was Texas nuclear hot, and nobody had eaten. Lee announced that he had to have something to eat before we went to the Nasher. When a college boy says he has to eat, he has to eat.
I threw the criteria in to my head…
-We were headed downtown (not a lot of action downtown on the weekends – shame on Dallas)
-We were in a hurry (no sit down restaurants)
-No chain-type fast food (general rule of mine, whenever given a choice, I choose local, privately owned – have to support the peeps)
I did not have much of an idea until an old, musty memory came bubbling up. I was at the Dallas Farmer’s Market, buying vegetables, and I saw a Taqueria in a run-down stand right in the middle of things. I remember wanting to eat there in the worst way, but we had other plans that day.
Tex-Mex is not my favorite, but I love Taqueria food. Incredibly unhealthy, probably not too sanitary – but fast, spicy, and good. What can be better?
“I think there’s a taco stand in the Farmer’s Market, Lee. It’s not too far from the Nasher, can you handle that?” I said to Lee.
“Go for it,” he said. So I exited on Good-Latimer and threaded my way through the giant glass canyons of downtown to the Farmer’s Market.
The place was hopping. The ragged field that serves as a parking lot was filling up – groups and families were wandering around with bags of vegetables, flats of bedding plants, and carts with Mexican clay pots and sculptures. A street musician was playing wildly inappropriate music (I have never heard Steve Miller’s Swingtown done by a busker before) and they were setting up a stage for a cooking demonstration.
I love the Dallas Farmer’s Market and am glad that it has become so popular (at least on a Saturday morning). I’ve been going there ever since I worked downtown twenty years ago and would walk over for a bag of tomatoes before taking the bus home to Lower Greenville.
It has grown quite a bit since then – the area is now surrounded by condominium urban-hipster type developments and the city has built a new air-conditioned “shed” to accommodate more retailers than the traditional farmers and wholesalers that still line up in the lines of stalls in the old open sheds.
We walked up and in front of the new “Shed Number 2” was, sure enough, a run-down, rounded, concrete building with a sign that said, “La Marketa Cafe” and a big, hand-lettered menu board.
I asked if it was still early enough for breakfast and it was. The menu was complex, but we quickly settled on tacos and burritos – corn and flour – and the options:
“Two tacos, one corn, one flour, one sausage, one beans&cheese, one burrito…, bacon and two bottles of water.”
I had to repeat it twice, but I didn’t really care if they got it right. It’s all good. They asked if I wanted “everything?” and I said, of course, “Sure.”
The food wasn’t very fast (there were a lot of people ordering and waiting), but it was very, very good. Large, full of eggs, onions. and peppers and “everything.” The best was the sauce (that’s the most important thing isn’t it?). Two paper ramekins – one with a hearty red, the other a wonderful spicy guacamole (I hate wimpy guacamole).
La Marketa Cafe (I have no idea where the Cafe come from) has now risen to the top of my extensive list of approved taquerias.
Now I want to go back, early, when there is a little cool morning air left wafting around, have some tacos, watch some people. I might even pick out a bag of tomatoes before I go back home.