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Archive for May, 2010

Dear Reader,

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!

Gracias!

D&A

Cool & 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!

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Taqueria Rositas
910 S. Hampton Rd. Ste E
Dallas, TX 75208
214-941-3334
4 Taco Platter – $4.99
Moyete – $2.00
Horchata – $1.75

The outside of Rosita’s is typical of strip mall taquerias. The menu is painted across its massive windows, hoping to lure in a hungry traveler driving down Hampton. But there on the door was a new symbol…actually an ancient one. The door to Rosita’s boasts a painted “icthus” (the little fish symbol found on car bumpers around town) with the word “JESUS” spelled out in the body. I had seen rumors on the internet of a Rosita’s Christian Taqueria. I don’t think this is the one they were talking about, but obviously each element was present at this establishment. I chuckled a bit at the idea of a Christian taco. Do they taste heavenly? (bu dum ching). Church and delicious food have long been united, but usually in the form of potluck dinners with buried treasures of fried chicken and chess pie hidden amongst neon green jello molds holding fruit and God-knows what else. While I believe the word “Christian” is best used as a noun not an adjective, I certainly was interested in what we’d find once inside.

Walking past that little fish we found ourselves in a tiny dining room full of customers and lively conversation. A young waiter greeted us in English and asked a predictable question: “Take out or dine in?” D & I really should decide this before we walk into restaurants. Instead, as if hearing of such possibilities for the first time, we stand slack-jawed offering mumbled “Idunno”’s and shrugging shoulders. If it’s a sit down place, we always choose to eat in, so why we go through such a routine, I’ll never know. Somehow “dine in” was communicated to our host and we found ourselves seated between two large paintings: one a peaceful Nativity, the other full of lightning and dark clouds, Moses and stone tablets. To balance the moral feng shui of the place, a picture of Pancho Villa and his men watches over the tables across the dining room. I (D) loved the contrast, intrigued with what type of food might be prepared in such a place that marries the sacred to the profane.

The menu was also balanced, full of old favorites(flautas & caldo), exciting specialties (queso flameado & a T-bone steak), and some things we’d never seen before( moyete & huarache). The reasonable prices made choosing a non-taco item pretty difficult. There were so many possibilities! We decided to be adventurous and ordered the Moyete, described on the menu as pan con mantequilla, frijoles, y queso (bread with butter, beans, and cheese). It sounded delicious, cost $2, and we were just dying to find out what sort of crazy concoction would be brought to our table. We ordered a sampling of the 4 tacos offered at Rositas: pollo, bistek, al pastor, and deshebrada (we’re still not sure what this word describes…the meat only, the whole package?). As we waited we enjoyed a basket of hot and crispy tortilla chips with a stewed red salsa and a creamy salsa verde. To tame the heat of the salsas we ordered a glass of horchata so infused with cinnamon it was spicy, creamy, and sweet all at the same time. Surprisingly perfect.

The presentation of the food was fantastic. We had jealously eyed a plate of flautas that passed by earlier- each flauta beautifully golden, freshly dusted with queso fresco. But our meals looked just as mouth-watering. Abundance was the theme of the taco plate, the corn tortillas piled high with glistening meat, and heaps of cilantro, onion, and Mexican crema on the side. In contrast to the tacos, the moyete was simple in its beauty. It consisted of a small bolillo roll, cut in half, then broiled until its edges were browned crisp. The center was smeared with rich refried beans and a good helping of salty queso fresco. The soft inside of the bread melted with the beans, created a culinary combination I have never experienced before, but can’t wait to try again either at Rosita’s or at home.

The tacos were 3 for 4. The pollo taco boasted well browned chicken pieces which turned out to be extremely bland. The meat did not even make a good vehicle for salsa, which is usually how I make the best of bland fillings. But our 1 year old seemed to enjoy it so it worked out in the end. We fought over the last bit of adobe red pork al pastor. The filling was aromatic and tender, served with a side of grilled onions. The extremely spicy salsa verde was made for the juicy, charred bits of bistek, which also tasted great with the grilled onions and crema. Those were two of my (D) favorite tacos so far.

Finally, we tackled the deshebrada taco, a unique offering that we have not found anywhere else. The taco is fried, not to a brittle state of crunchiness, but just enough to be crispy right out of the pan or frier. The deshebrada meat was mildly seasoned shredded beef which could have used a few dashes of salt or seasoning. Paired with the crispness of the tortilla and the shredded lettuce, the taco was refreshing and a good end to our dinner.

As we finished up our meal our little L began waving to a couple sitting at the table behind us, closest to the large storefront windows. The bearded man and his dinner companion returned her smiles and waves with kind eyes and dimpled cheeks. The man somehow managed to eat a candy apple without it getting completely lost in his Santa Claus beard while her plate was piled high with delicious looking rice. The woman introduced herself as Rosa. We believe she told us that she was involved in the ownership, management, or naming of the place- we couldn’t be too sure what was being said as we struggle back and forth between D’s “poe-key-toe es-pan-yoll” and her broken English. She was determined to tell us how impressed she was at the height of our skinny baby, using hand gestures and repetition to get her point across. We were determined to tell her how much we enjoyed her restaurant (assuming it was hers) and that we hoped she’d offer some extras to the couple who recommended this place to us. Her warmth, the funky décor, and of course the unique and unexpectedly tasty food has kept us thinking about Rosita’s for a while.

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