I knew I was only a few hours away from my dinner date with some Oscar Mayer hot dogs, but I was in dire need of sustenance. I decided to take a slight detour on my way home and swung through La Paloma in search of barbacoa.
La Paloma has a drive-thru window, and I took full advantage of it. The drive-thru menu didn't look nearly as extensive as the menu I had seen online. For example, the drive-thru menu didn't list any individual tacos, which is really what I wanted. The pricing was also a little higher than I was expecting for what are basically street tacos, so I was hoping that this would at least translate into higher quality.
I didn't know enough Spanish to ask about the possibility of a la carte tacos, so a combo would have to do. I asked for a #4 Taco Plate which, according to the menu, comes with two flour tortilla tacos, rice, and beans. The rice and beans are probably what adds to the pricing here. I picked one barbacoa and one lengua (tongue) for my taco selections, and then the drive-thru attendant asked what I wanted for my third taco. Despite what was written on the menu, I certainly wasn't going to argue about getting extra food. I added on an al pastor (pork) for taco numero tres.
Even though I really didn't want them, I started by sampling my side dishes. The rice was a little too al dente and had no flavor other than salt. It was pretty sad and overly orange. The beans were nothing special either. They probably came from a can marked "Goya," and the cheese sprinkled on top added absolutely nothing.
My barbacoa taco definitely didn't taste like true barbacoa (i.e. cow's head), but instead seemed like brisket meat that had been roasted or stewed. In fact, the meat had a stew-like flavor that didn't taste quite right. It was also pretty salty. The shredded lettuce and tomatoes seemed to just get in the way, and I much prefer the usual onions and cilantro.
The lengua also tasted slightly stewed. The meat was very greasy and more than a little chewy. I didn't find much flavor while eating this taco. That being said, there was an odd aftertaste which, despite what you might think, is pretty atypical for tongue meat.
I finished things off with the al pastor taco, which was as disappointing as the first two had been. There was more gristle than I care to eat. The pork didn't have much flavor and there was certainly no spiciness to it. I also found the meat to be a little dry, so perhaps it had been warming for a while.
La Paloma definitely fell short of my expectations. I'm not sure why I thought getting organ-meat tacos from a drive-thru taqueria was a good idea, but I won't make that mistake again. Chalk this one up to trial and error.
La Paloma Taqueria
10233 N. Central Expressway
Dallas, TX 75231