Food & Drink

Tacodeli is a player in DFW’s shell game

The Space Cowboy and the Frontera Fundido Portobello at Tacodeli in Dallas
The Space Cowboy and the Frontera Fundido Portobello at Tacodeli in Dallas

Trendy taco joints, with their locally sourced veggies and responsibly raised meat, are increasingly crowding the landscape in Dallas and Fort Worth, so much so that the lines of demarcation are about as murky as the bowls of addictive queso they serve.

New to the fray is Tacodeli, a hipster-doofus entry from Austin, with a dining room of rainbow-colored chairs and wicker-basket fixtures, organic colas and self-effacing counter servers who pleasantly guide you through the plethora of sustainable choices.

With roughly 25 tacos on the menu, you might hold up the line, like we did, when it comes time to order. Also, you’ll likely overlook a taco or two that might have better suited your appetite. No worries — there’s always next time.

We started with Roberto’s Brazo Fuerte queso (small, $7.25), a decadent bowl of melted cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo and chunks of Akaushi picadillo — seasoned ground beef from HeartBrand Ranch, west of Houston.

Let’s just say it was hardly the stuff of my Taco Bueno youth. The queso had a thin consistency, yet it perfectly coated the chips, which came in a sealed plastic bag and are made of 100 percent organic masa.

My daughter, who is roughly 72 percent chip, began to eat the smallish portion at a disturbing clip. But one dip into the queso and both she and my son began to bogart. Luckily, I sneaked in enough dunks to know it was first-rate.

So were all of the tacos we tried, from the ceviche ($3.95), loaded with near-shredded white fish, topped with guacamole and tart thanks to the lime marinade, to the carne asada ($4.25), succulent grilled cubes of rib-eye with diced onions, avocado and cilantro.

The Pollo Fantastico ($3.95) successfully married shredded chicken with roasted green-chile sauce, green onions and crema Mexicana. Slightly less exciting, but no less tasty, was the Heather ($3.75), a slice of grilled queso fresco atop refried black beans, guacamole, lettuce and tomato.

There are a few other options for the taco-averse, including the Ensalada Tacodeli (chicken or sirloin, $8.50), which had a taco-salad appeal, and the Corazon ($4.25 small, $6.75 large), a more adventurous mix of romaine, black beans, brown rice, avocado, roasted red pepper and pico.

A small but welcome tableau of sides runs the gamut from beans and rice to sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes. Another point of focus is the salsa bar, which includes four house-made salsas. Notably, the Dona is worth trying, a creamy and garlicky mixture that one could sip with nary a taco or chip in sight. (No judging!)

Locally roasted fair-trade coffee, a house horchata, kombucha and Topo Chico occupy the list of beverages, all of which mean the experience skews a little Portlandia.

But it’s worth it. You’ll savor the quality of food at Tacodeli, while reveling in the casual efficiency of the operation. Just make sure you order your own bowl of queso. Kids can be so mean.