National Taco Day

“Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.”
― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Taco Selections at Taqueria Tiquicheo
Lengua Tacos from El Padrino

The kids went out for tacos from one of the new “gourmet” taco places that have vomited out across North Texas (and I assume every other city). You have:

Taco Bell/Fast Food—Authentic Taquerias—Tex Mex—-Gourmet Tacos—-Taco Food Trucks….

A whole world of tacos.

But I am an old, fat, diabetic loser trying to eat as few carbs as possible… the world is slipping away from me. I had to get tacos wrapped, not in a delicious tortilla of some kind, but in a piece of lettuce. One beef and bacon and one hot buffalo chicken.

Still, it was pretty good.

Oak Cliff Bicycle Tour de Taqueria – Fall Edition

In North Texas there are two slivers of time each year – one in the spring and one in the fall – where the weather is passable for outdoor activities. The rest of the time the air is cold and wet or – especially – deadly hot. Right now, in mid-October, is one of those salad times.

Last spring – April – Bike Friendly Oak Cliff sponsored a bicycle tour of taquerias in their part of the city. I went, wrote about it, and had a good time. Now, as part of their Cyclesomatic October, a celebration of the nice weather, they were sponsoring a second helping of tour de taqueria.

On Saturday I rode in a bike ride where we toured a number of breweries. Luckily, I was careful to not imbibe too much, yet stay hydrated, so I felt good enough to venture forth on two wheels and pedals for a second day in a row.

I had been having trouble riding lately and thought it was due to bad hay fever or the ravages of age, but this morning I did some routine maintenance on my road bike and discovered a simple fault I should have noticed (the front tire off-center and rubbing on the fork) and didn’t. I fixed it, adjusted and lubricated everything and was set to go. It made all the difference.

However, the maintenance work took up a couple hours and set me, as usual, behind schedule, so instead of taking the train to Oak Cliff I loaded up my car and drove down. One nice thing about driving with a bike is that you don’t have to park close – which helped out in Bishop Arts on a nice Sunday Afternoon.

The tour started out at The Wild Detectives – one of my favorite places in the world. It’s a combination bookstore, coffee house, and craft beer dispensary – what can be better than that? An establishment dedicated to reading material, roasted Arabica beans, and fresh suds on tap… I’m glad it’s a long way from where I live or I would be there all the time.

The Taco ride starts at The Wild Detectives in the Bishop Arts District.

The Taco ride starts at The Wild Detectives in the Bishop Arts District.

Last time, the taco tour had five stops and a huge crowd. This go-round we only had three taquerias scheduled and a more manageable group – and I was happy for this.

Our first stop was El Taxqueño Taqueria at 207 W. Suffolk Ave – a nice restaurant with indoor seating and a patio. It’s right off Interstate 35 going south of the city – pretty handy. The owners were very welcoming and bike-friendly – I’ll definitely be back.

First Stop - El Taxqueño Taqueria

First Stop – El Taxqueño Taqueria

Then we headed west to Los Torres Taqueria at Clarandon and Edgefield. It’s a popular spot that has won best Taco Joint from D Magazine the last two years. It’s reputation is well deserved.

Los Torres Taqueria

Los Torres Taqueria

After Los Torres we headed north on a long downhill run on Edgefield until we crossed Interstate 30, then turned East to the rapidly developing West Dallas neighborhood off the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

We stopped at La Gaviota Taqueria off the Interstate next to the huge postal service station there. I had never seen this place or known it was there, but it too was worth the effort to find and ride there.

La Gaviota Taqueria

La Gaviota Taqueria

Now it was time to head back to The Wild Detectives and we had to earn back the downhill coasting. There are some steep heart-wrenching hills in Kessler Park, and we earned our daily tacos fighting up them.

A great time. Next week is another bike ride in in Oak Cliff – the Stevie Ray Vaughn Memorial Ride. Be there or be square.

Taqueria – La Marketa Cafe

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.

La Marketa Cafe in front of Shed 2 at the Dallas Farmer's Market

La Marketa Cafe in front of Shed 2 at the Dallas Farmer's Market

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:

chorizo
potatoes
ham
sausage
bacon
beans&cheese

“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).

Lee getting ready to attack a breakfast taco

Lee getting ready to attack a breakfast taco

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.

Eating al fresco in front of the taqueria

Eating al fresco in front of the taqueria - HDR