There are more taco restaurants in Fort Worth than can reasonably be listed in the space of one blog. Some are in trailers, converted houses or shacks. Some have nice patios and extensive bar service. Some have menus only en Español, so a little brush-up on Spanish vocab is in order: pastor and carnitas are both pork, chicharrónes is pork fat (fried skin or sometimes the belly; either way, deliciously lardy), lengua is beef tongue, buche is stomach and tripas is probably self-explanatory. Here, alphabetically, are 10 delicious taquerías to try.
Austin City Taco Co.
The newest taqueria in the Fort comes from a familiar face. Chef Juan Rodriguez had a long stint as head chef of Reata Restaurant before opening his wildly successful catering and events business Magdalena’s with his wife Paige. Now he brings a quirky menu to Austin City Tacos that features traditional tacos (brisket, al carbon, al pastor) interspersed with unusual tacos: salt ‘n’ vinegar with fried shrimp and crushed salt and vinegar chips, crispy avocado with queso fresco, and a State Fair taco with fried chicken and bacon jam.
The national chain restaurant in WestBend is another restaurant with a combination of both standard and uncommon tacos. You can grab a chicken chorizo, carne asada or pork carnitas taco on a traditional four-inch corn shell. Or you could sample portabella with queso fresco, falafel tacos with traditional tzatziki sauce, or pork belly tacos with a spicy arbol chili glaze.
El Mil Tacos
El Mil’s been serving tacos on Hemphill Street since 1995, and you get all of the interesting meats here –– lengua, buche, along with pastor and carne asada. Thirsty? There are bottled Jarritos Mexican sodas and horchata that doesn’t come from a carton. The restaurant moved from a funky, almost-falling-down building to its new, respectable-looking quarters up the street a year or so ago. But this is still one of the few places in town where you can get tacos until 4 a.m. on the weekends. 4117 Hemphill St.
Juanito's will hit their 20th anniversary next year. Judging by the exuberance on the restaurant’s Facebook page and the long lines out front, the magic hasn’t faded from this tiny neighborhood favorite. Locals will like you better if you can decide your order while you’re waiting, so as not to hold up the line any longer –– the menu’s translated with English subtitles. A plate of three tacos with rice and beans runs about $6. Upgrade to a selection of the fancier tacos for fifty cents more. The lengua taco on tiny corn tortillas with a sprinkling of chopped onion and cilantro is a buttery, heavenly treat. I wasn’t brave enough to try the tripas tacos, but you might be.
Call it So-Cal meets Tex-Mex at OMG Tacos. Start with a basic corn or flour tortilla and add a protein or vegetable -- then you can get fancy and upgrade your toppings. In addition to the traditional cilantro and onion garnish which comes standard, you can add guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, diced tomato, cheese (traditional or shredded cheddar) and hot Cheetos if your stomach will stand that for a small up-charge. Treat yourself to a mangonada slushy with a kick of sweetly sour Chamoy sauce and a tamarind “straw.”
Although the Universidad location where I fell in love with Salsita is closed, there are four other locations across Fort Worth, including a cute, sunny spot on Magnolia Ave. Salsa Limon’s smaller, house-made corn tortillas are doubled up so you don’t lose the heaping amount of filling, and the garnish includes a mix of piquant pickled cabbage, cilantro and onion. For a small upcharge, you can get flour tortillas (“Norte style”) but the corn tortillas with the slaw and a squeeze of lime are simply sublime.
Tacos Del Norte
Tacos aren’t the only offering on the menu, but you can get both taco plates with rice and your choice of either borracho or refried beans, or street tacos with your choice of carne asada, pastor, chicken or brisket. The taco plates feature some fancier fillings, including an upgraded brisket, duck and grilled or fried shrimp. The beef or chicken street tacos are a featured lunch special, and on Taco Tuesdays, the plate two brisket tacos and sides is a steal.
Taco Heads offers no waste-not, want-not meats on the menu; just a nice selection of shrimp, tilapia, beef, pork, brisket and a veggie taco with avocado. Fancy extras include a house-made mole sauce, bourbon-soaked black beans, and for dessert, churros with a smoked chile ganache. It’s well worth fighting construction on Montgomery Street for Margarita Mondays ($5 ritas).
One of the first taco stands in Fort Worth, the small building on Vickery Boulevard offers a couple of picnic benches for diners to consume their comestibles. Melis remains one of the few places you can get a breakfast jamon (ham) and egg taco, should you be tired of pastor or carnitas. On weekends, you can get menudo by the pound. Cash only. 4304 W. Vickery Blvd.