Monday, February 22, 2016

Eating BIG in Dallas

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- Enjoying the Bounties of the Big D

As regular readers might know I'm a regular in Texas these days. Mainly Dallas and Austin and today's post is focused on Dallas. It's a city that rarely gets mentions when the discussion of best American food cities is had. That said I think anyone that spends quality time there would argue different. Not that it's better than here or there but that theres more than enough interesting eating options ranging from cheap eats to big time pieces of meat. There's lots to love about the food scene in Dallas you just have to be willing to seek it out as the area is large and spacious. Don't forget to check out my past reports on Dallas by clicking HERE and then also HERE. Let's roll.

Mural in Deep Ellum

Tacos Mariachi 

This would be the trip I was finally able to connect with Jose of The Taco Trail fame. We'd been friendly on Twitter going on a couple years but our schedules never allowed us to meet until now. I'd used Jose's excellent tips on previous trips but this time we got to enjoy some tacos together. This semi-new taco spot in the hip Trinity Groves 'hood was our choice. The owner, who's name escapes me, was there with his family to greet us and serve his hometown Tijuana style tacos.

Taqueria Art + Menu 

Despite being a hip and happening neighborhood theres nothing hipster about these tacos. They're the real deal like those you'll find down in Baja Mexico. A starter of chips with a trio of magnificent salsas was a sign of whats to come. For my tacos I chose to roll with one Pulpo aka octopus, one Campechano aka Octopus and Steak and one Mazateno which was shrimp with a spicy chile de arbol salsa and lots of cheese. The latter of which you'll find in almost all Tijuana style tacos so don't let your local food snob tell you cheese doesn't belong on tacos. Not a bad one in the bunch.

Tijuana Style Tacos in Dallas

The owner has the tortillas made down the block and they too are wonderful. Nixtamal Tortillas that leave your fingers smelling potent afterwards. While I loved all three of the options offered I found my favorite to be the Campechano. Tender steak still a bit pink was perfect paired with soft octopus that had plenty of char flavor. Also in there was sauteed shrimp and grilled asadero cheese. It's one of the best things I've ate anywhere so far this year. I foresee this spot in my regular Big D rotation.

Pulpo Taco

 Urban Taco 

Continuing along with the taco spots I was finally able to make it into the extremely popular Urban Taco in Uptown. This is a Modern Mexican restaurant where they're putting out top notch tacos as well as cocktails and other Mexican favorites. One of the options off their taco menu was featured in a Texas Monthly roundup of the best tacos in the state. Of course I wanted to try.

 Taco al pastor a la Tuma

Urban Taco credits their recipes to the street food of Mexico City amongst others which is obvious in this magnificent ode to the style in DF where crisped up cheese is the tortilla. Urban Taco chooses to layer the cheese on the outside of a tortilla creating lots of crunch along with a semi different flavor profile than a regular taco al pastor. Me and she agreed these were as crave worthy as they come.

 Close Up

Luscher's Red Hots 

Here's a spot in the Deep Ellum area that was on my radar since it's opening. I mean I am the guy behind the Chicagoland Hot Dog Stand Tour here on the site so I wanted to see what was up with this Dallas chef's ode to Chicago with a Taste of Texas included up there. The menu reads like many spots in Chicago with hot dogs, burgers, Italian Beef, and so on. The difference being that Vienna Beef is not the supplier of the wieners. Instead they're using their own housemade smoked wieners. I chose to go with a Chicago style version and got to experience a different kind of Chicago dog. This one being both smokier and meatier. I look forward to trying da beef.

Chicago Style Hot Dog done with a bit of Texas Flair


Here's a repeat trip we'll almost always make. I need my fill of Tex-Mex when in Texas and when in Dallas this is our spot. It's about as fancy as Tex-Mex can get without becoming something totally different. They got a great atmosphere, excellent drinks and awesome plates of food. I think their Tejano Enchiladas are the best damn enchiladas anywhere and the brisket taco is no joke either. If you cant enjoy a plate of food this good you might as well just eat oatmeal and rice your whole life.

Tex-Mex Platter at Mesero

Tupinamba Cafe

Dallas has countless Tex-Mex spots where they can fit 100's and most nights do. It's amazing how many people eat out as these spots never seem to be empty during the dinner hours. Tupinamba has history in the city dating back to 1947. They claim to having introduced both nachos and the sour cream enchilada to Dallas. Quick stop since we were driving by and I had read about this somewhere before for having a signature deep fried taco which is a guilty pleasure of mine. I got one alongside a chile con carne enchilada and while decent it wasn't comparing to Mesero and others

Tex-Mex Platter

Check out the BBQ Portion of this trip to read about these awesome burnt ends from a KC style place in town.

Taverna Rossa (Plano)

We needed a quick bite in Plano after some shopping and I decided on this Italian spot where Chef Brian Luscher of the red hot place upthread had  helped develop. It's menu is Italian with some Texas flair. Dishes such as a lasagna with brisket give you an idea. We enjoyed a nice bowl of pasts that was just one serving but easily enough for two people. Nice service, good beer. not bad if near.

Pasta in Plano

Fortune House (Irving)

One night when she wanted to stay in I decided to take a ride. I was reading the 2015 dining round-up in Dallas Magazine when one of the best dishes of the year caught my eye. I love me some Xiao Long Bao aka Chinese Soup Dumplings and these were supposed to be the real deal. I couldn't resist and took the 30+ minute drive out into Irving. Despite some poor service, they were packed, I finally got an order of pork/crab soup dumplings delivered and they were the best I ever had. Just keep in mind I've only had them in Chicago and one spot in San Fran that was just ok so I'm by no means an expert but these had thin skin and exploded in the mouth. I almost got a second order.

Xiao Long Bao

Samosa Hut & Grill (Irving)

Last stop for this trip. I saw a bunch of Indian restaurants while heading to get the dumplings and started searching around for what was out there while waiting at the other spot. Another item not often found in Chicago caught my eye when I found a place specializing in samosas. They were open another hour and only a 6 minute ride from where I was so I decided to get an order. Three beef and three potato was my order and it came with two different but distinctly green dipping sauces. Again samosas are something I don't get to enjoy often but this was a time I would. Crispy with well spiced fillings and a dipping sauce that was almost good enough to drink as is. See ya next time!

Samosas in Irving

Tacos Mariachi
602 Singleton Blvd
Dallas, TX 75212
(214) 741-1239

Urban Taco
3411 McKinney Ave
Dallas, TX 75204
(214) 922-7080

Luscher's Red Hots
2653 Commerce St
Dallas, TX 75226
(214) 434-1006

2822 N Henderson Ave
Dallas, TX 75206
(214) 821-6426

Tupinamba Cafe
9665 N Central Expy #142,
Dallas, TX 75231
(972) 991-8148

18th & Vine
4100 Maple Ave
Dallas, TX 75219
(214) 443-8335

Taverna Rossa
4005 Preston Rd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 403-3321

Fortune House
8150 N MacArthur Blvd #190
Irving, TX 75063
(972) 831-9888

Samosa Hut & Grill
1129 Coker St
Irving, TX 75062
(972) 255-1894

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