This weekend, the whole city is invited out to West Dallas to celebrate the completion of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. The bridged distance between Woodall Rogers and Singleton Boulevard will host thousands who are expected to attend the planned parades, street fair, concerts, and more. While I hope this bridge will one day span a much more grand body of water than the trickle of the Trinity that it now crosses, we’re looking forward to the festivities.
West Dallas is a much loved northern neighbor. We’ve enjoyed memberships at the Lakewest YMCA, home improvement help from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and have found dozens of treasures at the Goodwill on Westmoreland. But the beautiful bridge has brought our attention further east on Singleton and we’ve found a great taco spot we hope you visit on your way to or from the Bridge.Chuyita’s Taqueria 1213 Singleton Boulevard, 75212 Tacos: $1.00-$1.50
The outside of Chuyita’s Taqueria still hosts the name of a previous restaurant: Juan Colorado. A name like that has enough bravado to fill a two-story movie screen. Before Chuy and her kin took over the place, we like to imagine Juan Colorado’s had saloon doors, a spitoon or two, and wood floors that made your spurs ‘ching just so. Perhaps the deer head still mounted on the wall is a remnant of that previous place. Taxidermy and all, the medium sized dining room is a pleasant space with colorful drapes, rustic flooring, and a mountain-scaped mural of a reclining nude adjacent to a shrine to the Virgin de Guadalupe.
Walking in at about 1pm, our friendly waitress led us to our table as we eyed the lunch selections of the six or seven diners already enjoying steaming caldos and heaping plates of enchiladas suizas and the like. Munching on chips and salsa, we looked over the menu which includes a healthy amount of taco proteins to choose from. We decided that at $1 a pop, we’d go for six…no, seven tacos. The carnitas taco was added last minute and we are so thankful we didn’t miss it! With a plate of cilantro, onions, and limes on the side, all 7 tacos were served on a long platter, each wrapped in a perfectly imperfect, homemade corn tortilla.
The corn flavor was subtle, with hints of crisp browning along the edges which added a depth of flavor without hiding the flavors of the various fillings. The supple folds of the soft, but sturdy tortilla made us lament that so few places make their own tortillas when the distance between fresh and pre-made is so great. Chuyitas’ tortillas took these tacos from fine to fantastic. The salsas also elevated the tacos, each in a specific ways. The verde, showing flecks of roasted tomatillo skins, added a quick, bright heat wherever doused. The roja was more naranja in color and was fabulously complex with a combination of sour and sweet heat flavors.
The pork al pastor and carne asada tacos were oh-so tender but did not showcase bold flavors. In a lesser tortilla, these may have been less than so-so. The barbacoa was prepared in a new way for us; stewed in a sauce that tasted of tomatoes. The result added a tartness that balanced the rich flavors evoked by rendered fat melted into shredded beef or goat. Another surprising flavor was found in the delicious chorizo taco. Among the typical chorizo flavors were herbal notes that made the coarsely ground pork taste like a blend of Mexican chorizo and Italian sausage. The last two tacos, cabeza and birria, were not “A’s” favorite, but brought delightfully gamey flavors to the palate.
But, Oh! the carnitas…Sure, you’ll pay an extra $.25 for the privilege of dining on amazingly luxurious pork, braised slowly until the cooking broth has evaporated, leaving the juicy meat to fry in its own rendered fat. But to find carnitas cooked using this technique and cooked well is all too rare. Even at Chuyitas, carnitas is only available “Viernes, Sabado, y Domingo”. Do not miss it because this may be our favorite carnitas taco in Dallas! See you on the bridge, tacos in hand!