Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Carniceria Mi Pueblo

1223 East Seminary Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76115-2910
(817) 920-1700
All Major Credit Cards

Consumed Tacos: Carnitas (I was too scared to try anything else).

For the first time during The Hunt, I almost chickened out.

Walking into Carniceria Mi Pueblo on East Seminary showed me how truly hard-core I have become in search for the perfect Tacos. Carniceria in Spanish means meat shop. I've found that most of them serve as a grocer/deli/butcher shop. While I have been in some code-violating "Mexican meat shops", I must truly admit that I was a little intimidated by Carniceria. Although I am not a health inspector, I could easily spot 5-10 violations the minute I walked up to the taqueria.

To put things in perspective, I did not recognize any of the meat they had laid out ready to be put in tacos. Everything suddenly started looking the same and then, "Ges?" I heard a voice and looked up to see a Senioriata ready to take my order. As I stood there contemplating if I should turn around and take off I said, "Uhhhhhh.....Asada?" The woman replied "Carnitas?" I said once again in my best Mexican accent, "Asada?" "Carnitas" she replied. Giving up on the hope of Asada (and not wanting her to substitute something for Asada without me knowing) I said, "Yes, Carnitas" (as at least I KNOW what that is).

She then pulled a serving spoon from a pan that had some kind of tongue in it, and scooped up a piece of Carnita for me to try (by using my hands to pick up off the spoon). I figured there were enough code-violations in this place, what's one more? Thus if you were at Carniceria Mi Pueblo on 3/24/2010 anytime after 11:30 am and ordered tacos---my fingers touched the serving spoon---but I promise they were clean. Let's just hope everyone else's were clean that day. Anyway...

At $1.00 I really started to ask myself why someone would not spend an extra .25 cents per taco and go to Rosita's Taco Trailer (which is becoming my new favorite hang-out) just down the street. I know why I'm there---because it's my job to try every single taqeria in the city so you can make informed choices. i.e. I am sacrificing my digestive system---so you don't have to sacrifice yours.

Once you can get past the initial shock of what's involved with getting the food, the tacos are actually not that bad. The tortillas were above average, and frankly I ate them as quickly as I could so as not to think too much as to what I was eating. As I was sitting on the tailgate of my pickup looking out at East Seminary (which is always fun), a Mexican gentleman walked by me and said something in Spanish I could not make out.

I figure it was one of three things:

1. He asked me if I was enjoying my tacos (he had a pleasant look on his face when he approached me).

2. He was crazy and talking about something that would not have made sense even if translated. I don't think this is the case as he did get out of his car and was sane enough to operate a vehicle.

3. He said to me, "I can't believe you are actually eating tacos from there!"

I like to #1 is the answer, so I just smiled and nodded.

All in all, if you want to step out on the ledge and try some seriously home-style tacos, or if you want to try some exotic meats not available in other taquerias, OR if you simply want to buy some bottled coke (with cane sugar) by the case, then Carniceria Mi Pueblo is your place. Else if you go there just for the tacos--I have not been doing my job.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rositas Taco Trailer

3122 Mansfield Hwy (AutoZone Parking Lot)
Fort Worth, Tx
Consumed Tacos: Asada (and it was GooOOOooD)

Heading east from Los Magueyes, I noticed something in the Autozone parking lot of the busy East Seminary Dr/Mansfield Hwy intersection---a Taco Trailer. Notice I did not write Taco Truck---as this is a Taco Trailer (see picture below). How great is that?? Of course I just HAD to stop and check it out...and I'm sure glad I did!

The gentleman in the trailer spoke surprisingly good English, yet had a thick enough Mexican accent to where I knew the Tacos would be good. I ordered two Asada (@ $1.25 each) and the gentleman served me up two INCREDIBLY good tacos filled with both chopped AND grilled onions, as well as fresh cilantro.

Between me and the world, I will pass on the grilled onions next time I visit. However,- for those that do like them---know they are there for you as a treat. The tacos also came with a slice of lime as well as baked Jalapeno pepper. Frankly, I really wanted to dive into the Jalapeno but did not want to miss the next few days of work.

The location is also brillant. On an absolutely beautiful day, I sat back and simply "took in" the scene that is S. Riverside/E Seminary Dr.

Sure, I stuck out like a sore thumb in my business attire sitting on the tailgate of my truck eating tacos---but due to the "thumbs up" I was given by many of the Mexican construction workers that were passing by---I think it was a good thing. (Either that or thumbs up means something different in the Mexican culture as it does here here.)

The tacos? Well, they were unbelievably fantastic. Tasty. Fresh. Authentic. It was a beautiful afternoon further beautified by the atmosphere and food. I must say that Mansfield Hwy Taco Trailer will be my new "get-away" on Spring days. When asked what days they are open, the gentlemen informed me "Every day except Thursday. That's when I stock up on supplies." I sure hope he gets some rest too.

When I first started The Hunt, I had hoped for afternoons like this... An EASY Five Tacos!

Los Maguey's

Consumed Tacos: Asada, Pollo y Chipotle
Preference: Asada

About a month ago as I was dropping off some donated goods on Seminary Drive (east of 1-35) near the Forest Hill area, I noticed a slew of taquerias. While I was unable to stop and enjoy anyone of them, much like McCarthur to the Philippines--I vowed to return...

I selected the first one I viewed doing east on Seminary. That would be Los Maguey's. Granted there are at least five other taquerias in eye sight, from this location, but much like opening gifts on Christmas morning, you must start somewhere.

As with many taquerias in south Fort Worth, when I entered Los Maguey's it seemed as though everyone stopped talking, and the music stopped (with the scratching record sound) and all eyes were squarely on me. As a friend once told me, "They don't like Canadians in that part of town". In all seriousness, I have ALWAYS been welcome with open arms in Tacoville and any other area of the hunt---Los Maguey's was no exception.

As I approached the counter, I looked at the wall menu, and was shocked at the abundance of dishes they have available. The only thing missing? Tacos! I (embarrassingly) asked the woman at the counter, "Do you have tacos?" She immediately called for help, who was a young gentleman that ended up being my translator. He showed me on the paper menu their choices of tacos. I immediately saw the price of $2.00 per taco, which raised my eyes. "We make the tortillas fresh" he said.

For those that read the Antojitos Latinos review, you will see that "homemade tortillas" will send you to a place you've never been. At least the ones at Antojitos Latinos did. Thus I figured $2.00 per taco was fair, and ordered two Asada and one Pollo y Chipotle.

You can remember from the Antojitos Latinos review that homemade tortillas can take some time to order. Thus expecting it this time, I was patient. However, I was a little disappointed that my wait time did not include chips and salsa. After about a 10 minute wait (which seemed like 20) I was greeted with a nice cup of water (on request) as well as my tacos and bottles of red and green taco sauce. As

As an experienced Tacovillian, I've learned the importance of tasting the taco sauce prior to placing it in your tacos. Sometimes it is too hot, and- sometimes it simply tastes like crap. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin tacos I waited 10 minutes for.

Thus I poured some sauce onto a piece of Asada, took a bite, and then...POW!!! It actually was not the sauce, but the Asada was in a league by itself. While it was not the best cut of meat, it was EASILY the tastiest Asada I've ever had. "Oh my goodness", I thought, "this combined with homemade tortillas? I could about to be eating the best taco in my life"

Remember the screeching record sound I mentioned at the beginning of the review? Well, once I bit into the taco, I heard it again. The homemade tortillas I had waited so long for were average at best. In fact, I was fairly certain they were homemade flour tortilla, which is nothing in comparison to homemade corn tortilla.

This got me thinking---what is more important in a taco? The meat or the tortilla? I have to lean toward the latter, so with all the promise the Asada had, the tortilla was a bit of a letdown (especially because it was 'homemade'). One other issue was the lack of a lime wedge. In thinking about it, this might be the time during The Hunt that my tacos did not come with a lime wedge. I am a fan of lime juice on my tacos, so this was another disappointment.

I was excited about the Pollo y Chipotle as I had tried it only one other time--at Tacos Earnesto's (not to be confused with Earnesto's Tacos) and it was a top two taco in the hunt. Because the Asada was so tasty I figured the Pollo y Chipotle would be out of this world! (Queue record scratching music again.) I never realized chicken could not have taste--but this was the case at Los Maguey's. Frankly, I think it was just a little watered-down.

While Los Maguey's probably deserving of 3 1/2 tacos, I am rounding down due to the long wait for average tortillas, and the lack of lime was inexcusable.
I will say the staff was VERY friendly. Probably the best service I have received on the hunt.

I did get a kick out of the payment transaction. The waitress/cashier did not know how to say the amount. She struggled a little bit, "Seeeaahn. Seeevahhhn.." then she gave up and wrote $7.57 on a piece of paper. I looked at her and said, "Oh, siete dólares y cincuenta siete centavos." She laughed, I winked and walked out....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

El Pollo Regio

Various Locations
All Major Credit Cards Accepted

With nearly 20 locations in the DFW metroplex, I figured I would give El Pollo Region a try. While I'm not a big fan of chain restaurants, I wanted to at least find out what El Pollo Regio is. After visiting a location, I am still unsure as to what is.

I elected to visit the location in the heart of Tacoville---La Gran Plaza. For those interested, this used to be the Seminary South Mall, which turned into Town Center Mall, and later to La Gran plaza. La Gran plaza is not so much a mall, but instead a Mexican 'town square', with a grocery store, Govt. services, barber shop, clothing stores. movie theatre, etc.

Now tow things to know about visiting this location:

1. It is VERY difficult to find. Not so much La Gran itself, but El Pollo Regio within the plaza. Some tips: El Pollo Regio faces Seminary Drive and is located next to Pizza Patron and Ross.

2. If you are caucasian, you are very likely to be the only one in the entire plaza. Obviously this does not bother me, and I personally think it is a safe area (of course I grew up in the "hood"),but be prepared for quite a few looks if you go there. They are not trying to be mean-spririted, they are simply confused and wonder what your business is there.

As mentioned, I was a little tentative of trying this place due to it being a franchised concept, but upon me calling the location for instructions and hearing "El Pollo Region. Esto es Maria, cómo le puedo ayudar yo?" (Transalation: this is Maria, how can I help you?) I knew that it would be at least *somewhat* authentic. Go ahead, try it: (817) 923-4595

The one thing that I REALLY disliked about El Pollo Regio is that everything is a "plate". By that, you cannot simply purchase a few tacos, ad hoc. Instead I opted for the "#4" (Taco De Carne Asada). It came at a whopping $4.95 and was essentially a grilled corn tortilla with about a 1/4 pound of sliced Carne Asada on top of it.

As I attempted to fold the tortilla, I was amused at how the beef just poured out. The ratio of meat to tortilla was unreal. While I would obviously prefer too much meat than not enough, I am confused as to why it would be made as such. i.e. I would have MUCH rather preferred to two normal-sized tacos than one large one. Thus while I really enjoyed the tortilla and and meat combination, I ate half the asada with a fork. Taco Rule #6 states: "If a fork is required to consume overflow of meat, then--by default--further consideration should be applied to the ration of tortilla/taco meat."

I must say the asada was very, very tasty. Unfortunately, the salsa was flat-out disgusting (I could not tell if it was made that bad or if it was spoiled), and every now and then I would bite into a piece of fat that was literally like a frying pan to the face it was so shockingly untastetful.

I give El POllo Regio two tacos--mainly becauase while it was tasty, it was not really what I considered a taco. If anything they are more like an al carbon taco---which I DO like, but when I eat al carbon, I want it to tbe al carbon and not a hybrid.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Las Fuentes Taqueria

2216 West Seminary Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76115-1928
(817) 922-9902
All Major Credit Cards Accepted

Consumed Tacos: Asada, Carnitas
Preference: Asada

Because I made it to work around 6:30 am on the day of my visit, I decided to get a jump on my lunch hour and visit Las Fuentes around 10:30 am. While most Taquerias are open early in the morning, I was unsure if they would be open but I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in to see a Mexican family already enjoying their burritos, rice, and beans. You gotta love the Mexican diet. Any food that allows for beans, fried chips, salsa etc. for breakfast is my type of food!

I was actually impressed with the inside of Las Fuentas. While it has the code-violating look that I prefer in a taqueria, it was organized nicely with many types of Mexican sweets, breads, beverages, etc. for that ad hoc purchase. Of course, I stuck with my goal--which is tacos.

Once again, I was vexed as to if this was a table service establishment (where you sit and are waited on) or if you order at the counter. When in doubt, I always go to the counter, as opposed with looking like an idiot by sitting in vain at my table waiting on someone to approach me. Honestly, I still am unsure as to the type of restaurant this is, as after I placed my order at the counter, they brought it to my table. Thus we will dub it fast-casual.

While Las Fuentas has a wide breadth of taco meat from which to choose, I stuck with good ol' Asada, and Carnitas. I elected not to purchase glass bottle coke for budget purposes.

The tacos were served within minutes of my order. As I started into my tacos I noticed that I was missing a beverage of any sort (i.e. water). I decided to tough it out and consume the tacos without a drink.

As for the tacos themselves, they were average at best. Of course, average in Tacoville beats anything else you will try around town. The taco sauce had little flavor, and at one point I actually found myself pouring salt on my tacos---something I had yet to do.
The cilantro was quite flavorful, but I found myself picking quite a few "stems" out of my mouth, which is always a negative.

In looking at the tacos, I could not tell the different between the Asada and the Carnitas (can you?). However, this was a plus as I prefer my Carnitas little over-cooked, as opposed with some "pink" in it. At $1.40 per taco, I was satisfied with the product, but only satisfied. Las Fuentas is not a place to avoid, nor is it a place to seek out.
If you are looking for a one-stop shop where you can purchase a variety of taco meats along with Mexican (sweet breads, of which I am not a fan) and/or Mexican beverages and candy (fan) then this place is worth a trip. Else I would not recommend them unless you are simply tired of the other taquerias.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Quarterly Taco Awards

In an attempt to provide you with a succinct version of the Taco Hunt, I am instituting the first "Quarterly Taco Awards", which I will update--well, each quarter. Drumoll, please...

Best Overall Tacos - Tacos Earnesto's

Worst Overall Tacos - Freebird's

Most Mexican Tacos - Juanito's

Most White Boy Tacos - Freebird's

Best Tortillas - Antojitos Latinos (by a MILE)

Best Asada - El Potosine

Best Chicken - Tacos Earnesto's

Best Carnitas - El Potosine

Best Shredded Beef - El Mil Taco

Best Onions/Cilantro - Taco's Earnestos

Best Taco Sauce - Melis Taqueria

Best Salsa - Taco's Earnesto's

Best Chips - Antojitos Latinos (by a MILE)

Best Be Careful What You Order - La Michoacana Meat Market

Most Greasy Taco - El Pollo Palenque

Meatiest Tacos - Melis

Hottest Sauce - Beach Street Taco Truck

Best Atmosphere - Fuzzy's Taco Shop

Worst Atmosphere - Melis Taqueria, (NOTE: This could change with good weather.)

Busiest Taqueria - Earnesto's Tacos

Slowest Taqueria - El Pollo Palenque

Most surprising Taqueria - Antojitos Latinos

Most disappointing Taqueria - Juanito's

Best Taqueria Name - Earnesto's Tacos

Worst Taqueria Name - Tacos Earnesto's

Monday, March 1, 2010

Melis Taqueria

4304 West Vickery Boulevard
Fort Worth, TX 76107-6312
(817) 377-8484
Consumer Tacos: Asada/Chicken Fajita
Preference: Asada

I had passed by Melis Taqueria many times (on my way to Montgomery Street Cafe) and they have been on my list to include in the hunt.

On a cold and rainy day, I made by way down Vickery BLVD to Melis Taqueria. The first thing I noticed---although the outside is rather large---there is no indoor dining. On cold and rainy days, this can be a negative, but I was hellbent on trying them. I walked up to the order window and waited. I waited some more and then waited some more. It was clear they were open as one Mexican was enjoying his taco on a picnic table and the lights were all on (including the neon OPEN sign). After not finding a buzzer, bell, ANTHING to alert them I was there, I decided to go next door to "Fernadez Cafe and Taqueria."

As I walked into "Fernadez Cafe and Taqueria" I was handed a menu. After looking at the menu, my conversation with the waitress (WHO WAS HISPANIC) went like this:

Me: I see you have "soft or crunchy" tacos.
Waitress: Yes
Me: Can you tell me if the 'soft' tacos are corn?
Waitress: We have corn tortillas, they are the crunchy ones.
Me: What about the soft?
Waitress: Flour
Me: What comes in the tacos?
Waitress: What?
Me: Does it come with onions and cilantro?
Waitress: Uhm...well, I guess we can put some onion and cilantro.
Me: Do you have Asada?
Waitress: No, just ground beef and (mumble)
Me: Okay, thank you---I was looking for some Asada, or Barbacoa, or Carnitas, or...
Waitress: No, we don't have those types of taocs [AND LITERALLY TURNS AND WALKS AWAY]
Me: [As she is walking away] Oh, sorry. I guess because your sign said 'Taqueria', was..a Taquria.

So that is my review of "Fernadez Cafe and Taqueria". Lessoned learned.

Thus I humbly went back to Melis Taqueria, and waited. In all fairness, upon my return there was a girl who ready to take my order. I did verify that it was "outdoor eating only" as I really did not want to eat in my truck. By this time one Mexican had left his spot on the only try park bench--so I was ready. I ordered two Asada and one Chicken Fajita taco. "Would you like everything on it?" inquired the young woman? (At least I was not asked if I wanted Cilantro and Onions---but more on this later). "Affirmative" I responded. "Oh, and let me have a glass bottle of the Mexican Coke".

As I sat on the picnic bench with my bottle of coke overlooking Vickery Blvd., I started to think how this place much actually hop in the spring and summer. There seems to be a large outdoor patio, but it was boarded up and assume they only open it in the spring/summer.
I know when I were in college I'm sure my fraternity brothers and I would have had no problem bringing a cooler of beer, and get down on some $1.40 tacos all night at a place like this.

But alas I sat as a 39 year old man sipping from his glass bottled coke, staring blindly into space waiting for tacos. Within a few minutes the woman rang a bell and said "Chree tas?" "I"m sorry, I asked?" "Chree TAcos?" she asked again. I looked away for a moment, puzzled as why she would ask me this question when she took my order and I was the ONLY person there. Nonetheless, I smiled and said, "yes". So much for what transpires in 1.3 seconds in my mind, onto the food...

I quickly took the picture of the tacos as it was quite cold outside and I did not want them get cold (there is little worse than cold tacos). The hot sauce was on the side and as I poured some red sauce on the tacos. "Hmmm" I thought as I could smell the sweet tang of the sauce. As I poured some green sauce on my tacos, I thought "ohhhhh shit" as I could smell the powerful habenero fumes coming from the sauce.

I first bit into one of the Asada tacos. WOW. That bad-boy was FILLED with quality, tasty meat. Unfortunately, something tasted a little different. Could it be? Tomatoes? AHHHH!!! There were tomatoes on my tacos. Actually, I did not mind too much as I like tomatoes, but was not expecting them. Next time I will ask for cilantro and onions only. Next onto the chicken fajita taco. Once again, WOW! It was over-flowing with meat. I must say out of all the taqerias I've been to on the hunt, Melis seems to offer the best bang for buck at $1.40 per taco.

Now to the negative: The tortillas. While they weren't necesarrily bad, they did keep them from a 'five taco' rating. If anything, they were a little under-grilled. They were almost like they were taken from the package, tossed onto the griddle for a few seconds and taken off. If not for this I would have no problem giving Melis Taqueria five tacos, but just like bread makes the sammich, tortillas make the tacos, in my opinion.