Saturday, June 8, 2013
Tacos la Banqueta (Dallas, TX)
For no reason in particular, I found myself craving barbacoa today. Not the hoity-toity Dos Equis "barbacoa" (probably just brisket) that carpetbaggers eat at Urban Taco, but traditional cabeza de vaca (cow's head). Dallas is admittedly pretty far north of barbacoa country, which is usually limited to areas of South Texas near the border. Tacos la Banqueta was one of the few places I found online that advertised cabeza on their menu, so I decided to give it a try.
Calling Tacos la Banqueta a hole-in-the-wall is probably being generous. This place is basically just a grill, with only the tiniest dining counter I've ever seen. While waiting to order, I found myself engulfed in the aroma of sizzling organ meats on the grill, which is much more enticing than you might expect. The lady at the counter spoke a little English, but I thought I'd try my luck and order in Spanish. It's cash only here, though I suspect they also accept pesos. I stood out like a sore thumb, so I decided to take my order to go.
The tacos here are only $1.35 each, so I ordered up a trio for lunch: Cabeza (cow's head), Lengua (tongue), and Chorizo (sausage). I wasn't feeling quite adventurous enough for the Tripa (intestine). Their tacos come topped with onions and cilantro, which is really all I needed. You can also get either traditional salsa or salsa verde on the side, but I decided to forgo the salsa and invest myself in the natural flavors of the meats instead.
Since it was the main reason I came to Tacos la Banqueta, I started with the cabeza. The meat was tender and cooked perfectly. It was almost like a roast, which is bad for traditional brisket, but spot on for barbacoa. You'd probably never know it was cow's head if they didn't tell you. There was only a slight amount of seasoning (mostly salt), which let the cabeza really stand on its own.
It's been at least 10 years since I've eaten lengua, so I was eager to get back in the saddle. The lengua was also very tender, and the crunch of the onions meshed perfectly with the smoothness of the tongue meat. There wasn't much in terms of seasoning, but fresh cilantro certainly helped in that regard.
The chorizo was a little greasy, but luckily it was also extremely flavorful. I found a good mix of spices, as well as a nice crisp char from the grill. It also had the beautiful reddish color that good chorizo should have. Of the three tacos, this was probably my favorite.
If you're brave enough, Tacos la Banqueta is a great spot for barbacoa in Dallas.
Tacos la Banqueta
4500 Bryan St.
Dallas, TX 75204