Food & Drink

Dallas-Fort Worth's 11 Best Tacos to Devour Right Now

Updated On 01/05/2017 at 12:10PM EST Updated On 01/05/2017 at 12:10PM EST
Dallas's Essential Tacos
Tacos Mariachi | José Ralat/Thrillist

You don’t just like tacos. There is no such thing as liking tacos. You either love tacos, or you don’t. And Dallas-Fort Worth loves the hell out of tacos. This collection of taquerias and taco slingers offers you the best tortilla-based treats across a range of tacos available in the region. Some come with cheese on the inside. Some come with cheese on the outside. But as long as you love tacos, you’ll be in good hands no matter where you go. ¡Buen provecho!

José Ralat/Thrillist

Taco maskaras

Maskaras Mexican Grill

Address and Info

Oak Cliff

At the corner of Kiest and Hampton sits this lucha libre-themed taqueria Maskaras (the slang spelling of máscaras, “masks,” in Spanish). The space is decorated with the owner’s personal Mexican wrestling memorabilia, including vinyl figures, memorabilia from El Santo, Blue Demon, and Rey Mysterio, and masks available for kids to try on and go wild with. Thankfully, the food backs up the spectacle. The taco maskaras, which upgrades the rich, soft, well-seasoned carne asada taco with the addition of melted white cheese between the beef and the tortillas, as well as garnishes of pico de gallo and avocado wedges. It’s a taco as flashy as a luchador match and just as exciting.

José Ralat/Thrillist

Campechana

Trompo

Address and Info

West Dallas

From hush-hush backyard taqueria to nationally lauded brick-and-mortar taco joint, Trompo has had a helluva 2.5-year journey. It’s well-deserved. The Monterrey, Mexico-style taco de trompo -- named both for the vertical spit on which the orange-red pork is roasted and to distinguish it from its regional cousin, the taco al pastor -- is a crispy, knotted ode to all that is right with tacos. The punchy spice is delivered by a paprika-based marinade -- not the achiote and chile-grounded seasoning of tacos al pastor. The only thing that makes the taco better is jazzing it up by subbing in a semi-translucent Sonoran-style flour tortilla, mozzarella, and grilled beef. You’ll find this iteration listed as a campechana under the menu’s quesadilla section. But pay no mind to its placement. It’s all marketing and business. A campechana is, in fact, a taco.

Foda Studio

Taco al pastor a la Tuma

Urban Taco

Address and Info

Uptown

Your favorite taco spot probably doesn’t use fresh nixtamalized masa -- the kind used by the Aztecs -- to produce its corn tortillas. Urban Taco does, and does it with secret kicks in its taco al pastor a la Tuma. An homage to taco cousin la costra, which replaces a tortilla for fried cheese, the a la Tuma is a stout taco of manchego cheese fried to a corn tortilla with a filling of al pastor sliced from the trompo and bathed in habanero salsa. The package is topped with a slice of pineapple and a wedge of avocado. Take care when eating it, though, tucked between the cheese and tortilla are a few slices of jalapeños.

Courtesy of El Come Taco

Jose taco

El Come Taco

Address and Info

East Dallas

Simple tacos are often the best tacos. Think, a tender slice of slice of beef brightened with squirts of lime juice and salsa roja. Or in this case, think a schmear of refried black beans, a shot of queso fresco, and a cool avocado slice. That’s El Come Taco’s Jose taco, so named for taqueria co-owner Luis Villalva’s father’s favorite taco.

José Ralat/Thrillist

Weekly specials

Resident Taqueria

Address and Info

Lake Highlands

The cauliflower, short rib, and pork belly tacos on fresh, airy flour tortillas are enough reason to become a regular at this Lake Highlands taqueria, but the weekly specials are sufficiently tempting so that you’ll want to return every Taco Tuesday. It’s with those offerings that chef-owner Andrew Savoie and his staff flex their imaginations with traditional tacos. The green chorizo, a specialty of Toluca, Mexico, is seldom seen in these parts. At Resident it’s a loose, herbaceous pile with peeks of mint. A meatball taco, a classic taco de guisado, trades a thin tomato sauce for a thicker red sauce evocative of Savoie’s Long Island roots, where marinara trends sweet with sugar. Agave syrup stands in for sugar in the sauce. And then there were the pastrami taco with a mustard béchamel and another taco with served with a sliced hot dog.

tacos la banqueta

Cabeza

Tacos La Banqueta

Address and Info

White Rock Lake

There’s only one way to eat this local chain’s fatty beef cheek meat taco in diminutive doubled-up tortillas: pick up the taco, fold it, and then slurp the filling from the opening. Happiness ensues. Only then should you eat the parcel like a regular taco. While there are several La Banqueta locations across DFW, the outpost attached to a gas station near White Rock Lake is my favorite. There’s plenty of space to sit, La Banqueta’s signature international currencies taped to the mirror are there too, but the service is incomparable with the other branches. As with all La Banquetas, payment is made after the meal and it’s closed on Sundays.

José Ralat/Thrillist

Rabbit Carnitas

Revolver Taco Lounge

Address and Info

Fort Worth

Revolver Taco Lounge is synonymous with real estate drama that for more than a year pitted property owners against restaurant owner Regino Rojas and his family. Were they going to lose their lease? Would they get more parking? Are they going to open a new location in Dallas or relocate within Fort Worth’s city limits. Well, at last the Rojas’ shuttered the original West 7th outpost and reopened in a large space with a long dark wood bar and stenciled revolvers on the walls, a small room for their Mexican guisados brunch, and between, the main dining space. A spray-painted mural of Mexican demons and supernatural beings decorates a side entrance. Dishes like Mexico City’s long, narrow machete quesadillas and the stellar, almost sweet, rabbit carnitas with chunks of buttery avocado and a dusting of queso blanco have joined the menu at what should be considered the best taqueria in Texas.

Barbacoa

Taco Stop

Address and Info

Dallas Design District

The beefy bramble tucked into small doubled-up corn tortillas and topped with zippy pico de gallo is a small treasure. But not one available before 10:30am. If a customer requests one at 10:25am, the barbacoa will be ready, but will not be served. The rejection will be swift and curt. Never mind that barbacoa is commonly served for breakfast. As annoying as that might seem, the kitchen, overseen by owner Emilia Flores, doles out exceptional barbacoa with just the right amount of glistening fat. It deserves to be a default order along with the juicy, mouth-puckering picadillo and the hiccup-inducing habanero-peanut salsa. But before you go, grab a spare coat to donate to Taco Spot’s Leave a Coat, Take a Coat clothing rack.  

Neghae Mawla

Mayan Tacos

Azucar

Food Truck

This taco truck with a splashy wrap shells out the only Navajo fry bread tacos I’ve encountered in Dallas. That alone doesn’t earn it a place on this list. It deserves a place here because of the approach to the fry bread tacos and their flavor: a seamless blend of Native American and Latin American foodways. Instead of the fry bread taco’s typical chili beans and ground beef, Mayan tacos come with refried black beans and the protein of your choice -- that should be chicken -- that is then capped with fresh lettuce, onions, tomatoes, cheese, and a lattice of crema. It’s a delightful mess of cool and spicy, smooth and chewy.

José Ralat/Thrillist

Costillas

Tortilleria El Characo

Address and Info

Northwest Dallas

Tortilleria El Characo is one of those elusive “hidden gems.” It’s also tiny, with a small dining room cluttered with tables, snacks on wire fixtures, and tchotchkes that is separated from the kitchen and tortilla factory by a steam table where customers can choose their guisado (or stew) of preference served atop a fresh corn tortilla. Go for the costilla, cubes of ribs slow-cooked in a dark-chile sauce. Note the chocolate, coffee, and candy notes, and grin. Don’t forget to ask if carnitas were made that day. And if they were, get yourself a taco.

José Ralat/Thrillist

The Criscokidd fish taco and the Ralat chile relleno taco

Tacos Mariachi

Address and Info

West Dallas

The renditions of modern Tijuana’s creative seafood tacos served by owner Jesús Carmona and his team have given Dallas yet another regional Mexican option. They’ve also given Dallas a one-two taco punch like no other. One is the CriscoKidd fish taco, chicharonnes-crusted mahi mahi with avocado mousse and crema fresca. It’s a surprising light parcel, and available only on Tuesday. The second taco is an especially surprising one for me, as it’s named after me. The Ralat chile relleno Taco, available Thursdays, is a sweet chile packed with roasted corn, yellow squash, zucchini, and asadero cheese that gets a pile of marinated shrimp, cream, and micro greens on corn tortillas made up the road. Go ahead. Get a bite of me.

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José R. Ralat is a Texas-based food writer specializing in tacos. He’s written for Texas Monthly, Munchies, Dallas Observer, D Magazine, Imbibe, this fine online media outlet, and other publications. Ralat is the author of the forthcoming book American Tacos: A History and Guide to the Taco Trail North of the Border, and he doesn’t believe in the existence of an inauthentic taco. Follow his trek on the Taco Trail at his website www.thetacotrail.com and on Twitter.

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1. Maskaras Mexican Grill 2423 W Kiest Blvd, Dallas, TX 75233 (Oak Cliff)

In a shopping center in Oak Cliff, Maskaras Mexican grill is a new take on the age-old taqueria. Eschewing sombreros and hacienda decor, Maskaras is a lucha libre-themed (you know, the masked Mexican wrestlers called luchadors) taco stop, with the owner’s personal collection of lucha libre paraphernalia lining the bright blue walls. There are signed masks, posters, action figures, and even life-size mannequins adhering to the theme, showing off a different side of Mexican culture, but serving up soulful taco plates, tortas, quesadillas, and an oversized, foot-long burrito. Maskaras is a DFW outpost for authentic Mexican fare in a vibrant, off-the-beaten-path atmosphere.

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2. Trompo 839 Singleton Blvd, Dallas, TX 75212 (Oak Cliff)

This Monterrey-style joint in Dallas serves Northern Mexican tacos, quesadillas, and guisos. The tacos are made the authentic street style way, meaning they don't come with rice, beans, and guacamole. Instead, they're filled with simple but flavor-packed pork, beef, or vegetables. Don't be discouraged by Trompo's unassuming and sparse space -- the food is too legit to miss.

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3. Urban Taco Uptown 3411 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75204 (Uptown)

This seafood-centric taqueria chain serves up modern Mexican fare in a bustling, upscale eatery situated on McKinney Avenue. High-quality, fresh ingredients for the menu --featuring tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, and signature ceviche -- keep the Uptown outlet of Urban Taco buzzing with diners. Enjoy the ceviche trio while you sip seasonal sangria, tequila, or mezcal on the "see and be seen" triple-tier patio with a club-like atmosphere.

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4. El Come Taco 2513 N Fitzhugh Ave, Dallas, TX 75204 (East Dallas)

El Come Taco focuses on simply prepared street tacos made with corn tortillas and filled with brisket, sirloin, or if you're craving a crunch, crispy grasshopper. The add-ons are minimal (most tacos are topped with nothing more than cilantro and chopped onion), letting the juiciness of the meat and the grainy texture of the tortillas speak for themselves.

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5. Resident Taqueria 9661 Audelia Rd Ste 112, Dallas, TX 75238 (Lake Highlands)

This Lake Highlands storefront is founded on tacos, and tacos alone (though there are sides on offer like guacamole and fundido, and kids can indulge in a quesadilla). Enjoy traditional or signature fillings, like pecan-smoked chicken, fish tempura, braised pork shoulder, slow-cooked mushrooms, or the signature caramelized cauliflower taco. Florets are combined with ribbons of crisp, nori-colored kale, pale green pepitas, and a drizzle of lemon-epazote aioli and served on an airy, delicate tortilla made in-house. Enjoy it with a Topo Chico, or for those of age, a house margarita.

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6. Tacos La Banqueta 7233 Gaston Ave, Dallas, TX 75214 (Lakewood)

Tacos la Banqueta is a taqueria chain across DFW, with Mexico City-style fare. The taco shack serves authentic tacos on two corn tortillas, with fillings like the signature sudadero (braised steak that’s chopped, then charred on the grill to order), lengua (beef tongue), and cabeza (cow head meat). The Gaston Ave. counter serve is attached to a gas station, but don’t let that put you off; its tacos are among the best in the area.

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7. Revolver Taco Lounge 2822 W 7th St, Fort Worth, TX 76107 (Fort Worth)

Operating out of Forth Worth's upper west side, Revolver Taco Lounge is a small, family-run joint serving up the highest quality Mexican way under the radar. Its humble signage won't be what draws you in, but the gorgeous, modern setup both inside and on the patio will. Dining here is not a typical Tex-Mex experience -- this place is far upscale of that. Although the breakfast menu is incredible (all-you-can-eat breakfast tacos), you really want to save Revolver for dinner because the tacos are gourmet gatherings of beef tongue, veal, pork shoulder, and duck breast.

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8. Taco Stop 1900 Irving Blvd, Dallas, TX 75207 (Design District)

Taco Stop is a Design District taco shack serving up some of DFW's most popular tacos, in record time. This roadside taqueria prides itself on making high-quality tacos en masse, offering them in batches up to 22 at a time. In the morning, the breakfast tacos -- stuffed with eggs, cheese, and a variety of toppings -- fly off the griddle, though the prime rib taco, available only at lunch and dinner, is the standout signature. The juicy prime rib is accompanied by magic onions (translation: onions cooked in bacon fat) and served atop locally made corn or flour tortillas -- your choice -- and topped with cilantro.

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9. Tortilleria El Characo 11055 Dennis Rd, Dallas, TX 75229

Tortilleria El Characo is a hard-to-find, hole-in-the-wall taco shop and grocery store in Northwest Dallas. As the name suggests, there’s a tortilla factory connected to a small dining area, where corn tortillas are made to order as a base for guisado (stew). Skip the pre-packaged snacks hanging from wire fixtures, and opt for the signature costilla -- slow-cooked ribs that are cubed and swimming in a dark-chile sauce.

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10. Tacos Mariachi 602 Singleton Blvd, Dallas, TX 75212 (West Dallas)

Tacos Mariachi in West Dallas serves Tijuana-style Mexican food, which translates to street food plates like fries drenched in mole sauce and corn tortilla tacos loaded with carne asada, grilled octopus, sliced avocado. Cash-wise, it's a total bang for your buck.

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