Where To Find Dallas' Best, And Most Authentic, Crunchy Tacos.
Hello. My name is José, and I eat crunchy tacos. No, I'm not talking about the preformed, mass-produced hard-shell U-boats popularized by chains with names featuring the word “taco,” although I'll admit that I've been known to eat those, too.
Stupid stuff like that comes with being a dad. One gets over it; dads do countless stupid things, like giving their five-year-old café con leche or subjecting their offspring to a Poltergeist sequel. Eating fried-to-order crunchy or crispy tacos is not one of those stupid things, though. Crispy tacos are great. The only thing moronic about them is that people don't consider them authentic.
Thing is, nothing could be further from the truth. The crunchy/crispy taco has its genesis in the tacos dorados of Mexico. And they're delicious when done right. Unfortunately, only a handful of area restaurants actually pull these off the way they're supposed to be.
Herein lies a sampling of these fine establishments. Try them out, and, specifically, order the crispy tacos offered on their menus.
You'll thank me later.
Desperados Mexican Restaurant
4818 Greenville Ave.
Opened in 1976 by Mexico native Jorge Levy, this Greenville Avenue eatery with a Mission-style exterior is legendary. Equally so are their Desperados Tacos, which are served as a platter of fried tortillas — in this case flour. You'll find beef or chicken nestled inside these delights, and capped with a slice of avocado, pico de gallo and the mild hug of Monterey Jack cheese.
Just don't ask the well-coiffed, handsome Levy to show you how the Desperados Tacos are made. He won't do it. End of conversation.
Tejano Mexican Restaurant (no website)
110 West Davis Street
For those pining for a textbook crunchy taco, Tejano, a large restaurant boasting sticky doors, sticky tables and a wait staff rushed even with an empty dining rooms, is the way to go.
The Oak Cliff building this spot calls home once housed an El Chico, and when that operation closed, and it was replaced by the current tenant. The dining room's crown jewel, a stained-glass window recounting the history of El Chico owners — the Cuellar family — remained. Good thing, too, as that tale of Tex-Mex royalty is as old as the subject of this post.
On my most recent visit, several employees swore up and down that their crunchy tacos were fried to order. I have my doubts about the crunchy's freshness, but, hey, when you slap some beef fajita in the taco, you've got something that's pretty good. Or as good, at least, as Tex-Mex or, in this case, Tejano, gets.
367 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Another Oak Cliff stalwart, this tiny joint along Jefferson Boulevard (there's another on Burton Road) is a magnet for the weekend brunch and after-church crowd. In other words: Go some other time.
I recommend moseying on in for a late lunch. Just saunter past the adult tricycle parked outside and get the fried-to-order crispy tacos featuring the holy trinity of Tex-Mex: lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.
It's a messy meal of classic regional flavors, but this variation is a homegrown gem, for sure.
Tupinamba Mexican Restaurant
12270 Inwood Road
Go one of two ways here and either order the signature Tupy tacos or the San Antonio-style option that until two weeks ago were available on the regular but are now an off-the-menu offering. These babies will arrive at the table closed and filled with chicken or beef. Pry them open to pile on lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.
The Tupy in particular boasts a fine textural power combo: It's soft in the center with a crispy edge, the result of frying a taco that's already been filled with cooked beef. The San Antonio tacos, on the other hand, are light and flaky, but without being too brittle.
It's a shame the latter were removed from the standard offerings, but I guess when your restaurant has been open for 65 years, the ability to keep people guessing is essential.