This is the past five months in a taco shell. D, in the dead of winter amidst 12 hours of grad school + a part time job + unpaid internship + unpaid internship hopped over to the windy city for a short weekend (see story on Maravillas). The tail end of a snowy winter saw L turn one and we toasted her birthday with 60 people plus 5 babies in our 990 s.f. house (see story on Taco-Off). As the lightness of spring set in I (A) crammed for a 16 hour interior design exam while maintaining a regular 40 hour work week, bumping into D & L every few days, which reversed as D’s finals began soon after the completion of my exam (See 4 week absence from posting). In there, somewhere, L starts to talk, L starts to walk, L starts to run, bringing us joy throughout.
You may have noticed our taco blog hiatus as the weight of all this busyness fell on us and we could no longer tend this digital space, for you, our beloved readers (w e are so sad to have missed an opportunity for a Cinco de Mayo post…next year, we promise). During those weeks we longed for the red hued juices from a taco al pastor to dribble down our lips. Our tongues called out for cilantro and onion. They instead received frozen pizza and peanut butter sandwiches. Skin as pale as white corn, with bloodshot eyes “D” spied the sign for Cool & Hot weeks ago but it has only been this past week that we were able to find the time to stop by. We’re glad you have continued to stop by our blog. We hope it is an escape for those of you reading at work ; a treasure map for the hungry and adventurous eater; or a small taste from home for those far from it. We intend to keep hunting ourselves, so check in with us often!
D&ACool & Hot 930A E. 8th St, Dallas, TX 75203 (214) 944-5330 Tacos – $1.39 6 Taco Combo (w/ drink) – $6.99 Single Dip Waffle Cone – $1.25
The official start to summer is still a calendar page away. But my seat belt buckle– a branding iron in the guise of a safety feature– tells me it is here. Friends are found glowing pink these days, mistakenly trusting in Spring to save them from the suffering inflicted on their skin by the sun. We have tilted too far already and the sun still beckons us closer. Worse is coming. It is still safe to venture out into Midday. Later in summer, the movements of the city will begin to resemble a work of apocalyptic science fiction. Water will be rationed. Men in masks will rise before dawn with machines to tend brown landscapes full of dry, sharp blades. The air will be thinned of oxygen, thickened by a choking haze seen by eyes and felt in throats and lungs. We, will survive by keeping the elements at bay. People will move from air-conditioned box to air-conditioned box, jetting to and fro in mobile air-conditioned (for the fortunate) boxes on wheels. Those without the ability to keep their climate controlled will be forced to hydrate themselves with neon liquids– blue and green and orange– lest their bodies be wrung dry like a sponge. A strange scene, yes. But one familiar to millions of Texans who brave the summer heat year after year.Cool & Hot will not be one of those boxed way-stations of cool air. An open air taco stand, it only offers food and shade to its patrons. Yet this little oasis off I-35 will protect you from melting into the thirsty cracks of Texas ground from the inside out.
This gas station turned taco stand beckons drivers to stop by with plenty of blue paint accented by glow in the dark lettering and detailing. But the name is what really intrigued us. Turns out the name describes the place perfectly. The menu is simple: Tacos hot off the griddle and sweet desserts of the cold variety. We love places that beg the question, “Why didn’t I think of that?” This place has it all. And by “it all” I mean espresso drinks (couldn’t see a machine in the kitchen, but seemed to be legit), tacos for all times of the day, snow cones, ice cream, Mexican Cane-Sugar Coke, Horchata, a drive-thru, and a great patio area. We’ve found our summer romance.
Ordering the 6 taco combo was easy, since there was little else to distract us on the menu and it was a cost effective option at $6.99 and provided plenty of tacos as well as a drink. The selection of meats is not overly complicated either: Barbacoa, Pollo, Beef Fajita, Picadillo, and Al Pastor. What was harder to choose was first, whether to get a snow cone or an ice cream cone. Of course, each category of dessert comes with a dozen or so options, which extended our decision making process. But we knew no meal on a hot Saturday night would be complete without a cool treat.
The words “Dulce de Leche” decided for us especially when paired with “waffle cone” and “$1.25”. That is an unheard of price for an ice cream cone these days and we couldn’t wait to get to dessert. Problem solved! They gave us the ice cream before we were done ordering our meal. We should have known, since the name places the Cool before the Hot (ba dum, ching). Next time, we’ll ask them to hold off on the ice cream until after we’ve had our meal. But there was no real reason to complain. We had an ice cream cone in hand, tacos on the way, and no scolding mothers in sight.
About halfway down the cone our tacos were ready at the pick-up window. First up was the barbacoa. The taco exploded with rich flavors that slow roasting beef brings out, especially when the braising juices are incorporated in the final product. This was the case with this juices-dripping-down-the-forearm barbacoa taco which was more like shredded bbq or pot roast than the traditional barbacoa de cabeza we have had in the past.
The Pollo taco used thigh meat, which I consider more desirable than chicken breast because of the depth of flavor found in dark meat. The flavor was all black pepper, which brought a nice, slow burn to the back of my throat. Again, the juiciness of the meat is to be noted, especially after not having a lot of luck with chicken tacos lately.
The two tacos al pastor we ordered were good, but pretty greasy. We’ve had better, but the layers of spice and roasted pork meat were certainly present and pleasant, just with a little too much oily mess. Another disappointment was the beef fajita taco which tasted great, but skimped on the meat. While the corn tortillas were soft with nicely crisped edges from a turn on the griddle, we would have liked to have noticed the flavor of the fajita meat instead of the tastiness of our tortilla.
We finished off the box on a high note with the picadillo. As with Fuel City’s picadillo taco, this one will make you breathe flames of fire when you’re done. The heat could be visually detected in the ground beef and potato mixture which showed off a green tint, presumably from a generous helping of green chiles of some variety. If you can handle heat, these tacos are not to be missed! There was not much heat in Cool & Hot’s two varieties of salsa. But both pack a good amount of flavor, the verde being my preference for its sweet/tart tomatillo flavored heat; the roja loved by “A” for its more fruity/sour flavor with much less spiciness.
Since we had our dessert first, we were able to linger a bit, unencumbered by mouths full of food as we took in our surroundings. The detail shop across the way kept the neighborhood full of music of all kinds, from rap to hip hop to more traditional Tex-Mex sounds of accordions and tubas following a waltzing bass line. We were asked how we liked our meal by a man sitting at a table across from us who turned out to be involved in the owning and operating of Cool & Hot. Carlos says that this 3 month old taco stand is the end result of a 7 year dream. He was certainly proud of his establishment (and his family, of whom he spoke with even more pride) and shared that same entrepreneurial spirit that we have come across in many other taquerias. When asked about their buisness, each owner shares with us their passionate desire to create food that people love, while also hoping to make a space that enhances the way their patrons enjoy a meal. We are thankful for such people and want to see all the best come to those who have chased the same noble dreams to it’s realization, whether that be a barbeque joint, hamburger shack, gourmet bistro, or a taco stand.
P.S. For those of you reading this post on a Friday or a Saturday: Cool & Hot is open…no matter what time you are reading this, they are open. So go and get what we know you are craving!