It takes a lot of courage to plant your taco flag on West Seventh Street in Fort Worth, an area already rich in Mexican and Latin American culinary offerings. From the Salvadorian-inspired menu at Gloria's, to the exemplary gourmet Mexican cuisine served up by the likes of Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana and Hacienda San Miguel, to the upscale taco "lounge" Revolver, to the much-loved food truck Taco Heads, this is definitely not a corner of the city starving for hot sauce.
Make room for Velvet Taco
Posted On January, 22 2014
But as the recently opened Velvet Taco proves, if you're serving up creative food made from fresh ingredients, there's always room at the table for more.
Located in the space previously occupied by The Gold Standard and 7th Haven, Velvet Taco actually originated in Dallas, where it quickly found a loyal following after opening in 2011. (Ironically, the Fort Worth location -- with its counter service; high, bar-style tables; and busy outdoor patio -- might actually remind you more of Austin than Dallas.)
Purists beware: This is definitely not your Mexican grandmother's taqueria. Indeed, fans of some of the nouveau-style taco shops in town, like Fuzzy's and Torchy's, may be thrown by some of the menu's eccentric flourishes. I mean, can you really call something a taco if, instead of a tortilla, the wrapper is a lettuce leaf, and instead of carnitas or chicken, it's stuffed with falafel -- the fried chick pea patty that's a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine?
Yet for anyone tired of the same-old, same-old when it comes to Mexican food, Velvet Taco is a godsend. On our recent lunchtime visit, we started with the "elote-style" Rotisserie corn -- roasted corn, scraped from the cob, and mixed with queso frsco, asadero, Valentina hot sauce and lime. Despite the cheeses in the mix, this is a lighter version of the traditional elote that allows the sweet flavor of the corn to shine through.
There are more than twenty different tacos to choose from, including such intriguing offerings as a cornmeal fried oyster taco and a Vietnamese-style pork bahn mi taco. We decided to try the "Cuban Pig," which features gruyere cheese, pulled pork, shaved ham, bacon, mustard and pickle, served in a traditional flour tortilla. For those who love Cuban press sandwich, but don't want something oily and cheesy weighing them down all afternoon, this is a terrific choice.
Foodie thrill seekers that we are, we also opted for the afore-mentioned falafel taco, which comes topped with arugula, tahini cream, red onion, pea shoots, avocado and tomato. As it turns out, the lettuce wrap tortilla gives the taco a nice lightness and crunch, and the falafel was perfect -- lightly fried and nicely seasoned. (Next time out, we'll have to try the even more eccentric-sounding "Fried Paneer" taco; indeed, there aren't many other spots around that do Mexican-Indian fusion.)
With most tacos in the three to four dollar range, this is an exceptionally affordable option for pretty much any meal of the day (yes, there are breakfast tacos, available at any time). Nightcrawlers will also be pleased to know that Velvet Taco is open to 3 a.m. on Thursdays and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. So make some room in the crowded West Seventh District for Velvet Taco -- it looks like it's going to be here to stay.