My wife came up with the idea first. “I’m gonna start a blog about the real Oak Cliff,” she announced one evening . After a brief discussion about this statement (What sparked this desire? Driving down Jefferson Ave; What do you mean by real? The people walking down Jefferson Ave; And possibly the most important question: Whatcha gonna name it?), we both realized that a project like this would be perfect for us…if by us you meant two people with lots of time and money on their hands and little other responsibilities. Unfortunately, that does not in any way describe “us”.
So to the back burner it went.
Until one day I came up with an excuse idea, to write about food. Also inspired by driving around our neighborhood, I came home and proudly told my wife, “I’m gonna start a taco blog.” To which she promptly replied, “Hey, that was my idea!” She was both right and wrong. It was her idea to engage our community, to write about our interactions with neighbors and store owners. She is that type of person: quick with a smile, easily connecting with people, listening to their stories and telling her own. These are characteristics I admire in her, mainly because I do not possess them. I wanted to interact with tender beef, spicy salsa, and homemade tortillas, not with store owners and shop keeps. But writing about just food soon gets too technical, haughty, or just boring.
So its a good thing we do this together, because we just found a place with both great food and great people creating that food.
El Tizoncito recently took over an old Starbucks close to our house and has a different feel than most places we have or will visit. Its interior is new and colorfully modern providing a warm and bright environment in contrast to the cold wet weather that we have had recently.
The inviting surroundings were matched by Leo, the generous and welcoming owner of the taqueria, who sat us at the bar closest to the open kitchen. Before we could even settle we were handed glasses of horchata (a refreshing milk and rice drink seasoned with cinnamon) and two complimentary tacos al pastor. We watched as Leo skilfully sliced the meat off the pork roasting on a spit just feet in front of us. Tacos al pastor are filled with slowly roasted meat, usually pork, cooked on a vertical spit (reminiscent of something you’d find in a greek restaurant or kosher deli). This meat was highly seasoned, sliced paper thin, and both crsip and tender. The meat is roasted barely an inch away from an open flame so parts of it get charred and crisp while others just baste in their own juices. On the side were the typical toppings of cilantro and onion. However, a bit of chopped pineapple was a surprising addition but welcomed one. Delicious! Before we could finish there we were also asked to try a complimentary house margarita, made with tamarind. This combination was magical, adding another layer to the sweet/tart flavors of a typical lime margarita. Definitely worth a try.
While we ordered a few different tacos off the menu it was obvious that al pastor is the showcase of this taqueria though Leo told us they also add special menu items on the weekends, including lamb barbacoa. “A” loved the pollo con queso and the chuleta (pork chop) was meaty and a perfectly paired with the pineapple. I piled on the salsa which were very mild and fresh. We chatted with Leo as we ate and he was eager to tell us his dreams for the taqueria and about its beginnings. He has overcome quite a bit (from failed buisness partners to extortion and kidnapping!!) but was optimistic about the taqueria’s future. The restaurant business is tough but we are certainly rooting for Leo and El Tizoncito.