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.
Austin City Taco Co.
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.
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. This is still one of the few places in town where you can get tacos after 2 a.m. on the weekends.
Juanito's has been in business for 20+ years, and 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.
Mariachi's has quickly risen to the top of many locals go-to spot for tacos - and for good reason. In addition to the delicious street tacos, quesadillas and burgers offered, the hole-in-wall spot serves up a complete vegan and dairy-friendly menu. Not exactly what you would expect from a taqueria located inside of convenience store in the east side. Don't let the exterior fool you.
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.
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.