*Note: Unfortunately our camera quit on us a few weeks ago and we have to succumb to using a phone camera to capture images of our taco treats. I know I complained about bad food pictures in the last post and here we are posting some of our own. We are trying to find a place to fix it (it won’t accept the SD card anymore) but until then, these pictures will have to do. Thanks for your patience!Comederia El Padrino #2 330 West Davis Street, Dallas, Texas 75208 (214) 943-8888 $1.25 for tacos de maiz/$2.75 for tacos de harina
The sky was quickly fading to deeper shades of blue and violet- Thursday elegantly telling us that it would soon be closing up shop. And here we were taco-less. A perfectly planned picnic playdate with neighborhood friends was quickly turning into a grouch-fest as empty stomachs turned parents and toddlers alike into whining babies. Our targeted taco joint was nowhere to be found! The sign advertising Pena’s Mexican Grill near Lake Cliff Park led us astray. Disappointment was soon discarded as we realized we were still in the middle of the Cliff. A taco stand was certainly close by. But which to try? Then came the memory: half-priced tacos at El Padrino!
That enticing Thursday special is surely meant to lure those headed for a stroll around Bishop Arts on First Thursdays. But the deal is good any Thursday. I’m sure that the great building and the huge menu entice people to stop by no matter the day of the week.
El Padrino fits in with Bishop Arts with its cool-kid exterior while still remaining full of authentic Oak Cliff taqueria innards. Still, it’s somewhat surreal to see a menu featuring $1.25 tacos alongside a sleek Bentley in the valet parking lot behind the stand. Of course the owner of that car was probably grabbing a $32 plate of Spice-rubbed Australian lamb chops, with rosemary-dijon sauce , artichoke & potato puff pastry, & glazed baby carrots from Hatties (not dissing but merely comparing). But, writing that suddenly feels like I’m letting my stereotypes get the better of me.
In many ways stereotypes both help and harm us in decision making. Stereotypes make it easier for us to process the millions of intricacies and patterns that make up reality (or at least how we perceive that reality). But often, this same feature of our amazing brain sells reality short, going for the easiest explanation while ruling out what may be the truth. The Bentley’s owner might have been stopping in for a quick taco. Or was working in the shop. Or maybe works at the valet stand. Or…or…or. The goal isn’t necessarily to get rid of our stereotypes. Instead, understanding where they come from and how they affect our daily interactions with the world helps us make better decisions.
Unfortunately, the tacos at El Padrino lived up to the stereotyped perception that many have created about taco stand tacos. The small tacos came two to a foil pack. They were tasty, but a little bit on the greasy side and a lot a bit on the salty side. The chicken fajita and barbacoa were saturated with salt; the barbacoa was too salty for me to finish. The al pastor were okay but lacked the complex layers of spices we’ve come to expect from the marinated meat. The fajita beef was the standout, even though it was kinda skimpy on meat, kinda greyish with no searing from a grill or griddle, and pretty chewy. There was nothing particularly nasty about these tacos (besides the barbacoa’s mouth numbing salinity). We were plenty hungry by the time we got to our picnic spot and ate them up with few complaints. But thinking back on the meal does not start up my salivary glands like so many of the other Oak Cliff taco spots we’ve come to know.
The best comparison I can think of is of a potato chip. The classic image of a potato chip is that it comes from a bright yellow bag full of thin, translucent chips that can be described using the very same words I used for the tacos: too greasy, too salty, but tasty in its own way. It’s the stereotyped image. But then there are “Kettle Cooked”, “Thick Cut”, or “Gourmet” potato chips spiced with sea salt or ginger, etc. What a potato chip can or should be is suddenly unlimited. While you may return your hand to the yellow bag without flinching, chances are you pass on it if someone’s got a bag of Kettle Cooked, Hand Cut fried goodness sitting on the picnic table.
The same goes for tacos. El Padrino’s will do in a pinch. But heres to breaking free from stereotypes.