I didn’t look at the menu before I headed out to the new Tortaco, across the street from Fred’s in Fort Worth’s West 7th area. A modern taco joint should have adequate vegetarian offerings, I figured. At the very least, most places will put some veggies and cheese inside a corn tortilla and call that adequate.
But vegetarians actually get something special here. In addition to tacos, Tortaco has a menu of seven “bowls,” and one is called the “vegetarian” (others feature hamachi, pulled chicken, pork kimchi — this is definitely not a Tex-Mex place).
The vegetarian bowl ($8) is serrano jasmine rice topped with roasted butternut squash chunks, roasted pineapple, blistered tomatoes, green grapes, arugula, cauliflower, mushrooms, sweet corn, onions pickled in red wine and Vermont cheddar cheese. All that somehow becomes a well-balanced, savory-sweet whole that makes sense — and is really delicious. I’ll be eating this often.
Among the tacos ($4 each), each also available as a torta, the sole meatless item on the current menu is a good one, called the relleno. It’s a egg-battered poblano “steak” (don’t let that word throw you) topped with spinach, mushrooms, avocado, sweet corn and Gruyere. For vegans, it makes more sense to get the bowl, minus the cheese.
There’s also a robust menu of side dishes here, with good meatless options. I endorse the creamy cauliflower ($4), a satisfying little pot of goo that included Vermont cheddar and panko. There’s also a jalapeño mac and cheese ($4); oven-roasted rapini with chile flakes ($3, and the easiest vegan choice); a chopped house salad with queso fresco, almonds, shallot vinaigrette ($5); and the blue salad ($5) with cherry tomatoes, green grapes, toasted pecans and blue cheese.
More taco talk
At Revolver Taco Lounge, an old Fort Worth favorite that recently opened in its new location in the former Sera Dining & Wine space, meatless dishes still feel a bit like an afterthought, at least when you’re perusing the menu.
The lunch buffet is not a good deal for vegetarians — the day I went the entrees were three meat stews. But an a la carte lunch menu is available, too. The plates are out — even the meatless eggs dish comes with rice and beans that are not vegetarian — so the mercado-style quesadillas are the way to go.
The quesadilla base is $4, and you add a filling for $4 or $5. Meatless choices listed were huitlacoche (the delicious Mexican corn fungus), mushrooms and squash, but on my visit, they only had the squash on hand. It sounded a little boring, but actually this was one great quesadilla — simple but perfect. Besides squash, it came filled with asadero cheese, tomatoes, onions and serrano peppers, with a good salsa on the side. But be warned that was it — no side dishes, no chips and salsa for the table.
As for the tacos, if you’re there in the evening, there are 14 varieties, and only one is vegetarian: the calabcitas, with green and yello squash, corn, queso fresco and salsa ($2.50). They’re good, and I like this a la carte approach much better than the way these were served when Revolver first opened on 7th Street, when you could only order these as a $14 plate.
To round out a meal here, get a side-dish ($3) or full-size ($9) guacamole, which adds green tomatoes to the usual ingredients and can be made mild, medium or spicy.
Have a suggestion, a veggie news tip or a question? Send it to Marilyn at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter, @LonesomeVeg. For more Lonesome Vegetarian columns, visit dfw.com/vegetarian.