The Tower, a large condo complex in the former Bank One tower in downtown Fort Worth, is about a two- or three-block walk from the DFW.com/Star-Telegram offices, depending on which exit you take from our building. The Tower is already home to a Potbelly Sandwich Shop and a Cantina Laredo, two places frequented by our employees.
Yet when word got out that Salsa Limon “Centro,” the latest location in the expanding Fort Worth taqueria mini-chain, had opened Monday morning in the Tower, several of us acted a) as if we’d never had a taco before and had to investigate this new creation and b) as if it were the first restaurant in downtown Fort Worth. In other words, a lot of the staff was spotted checking out Salsa Limon’s location on its first day.
It’s not like there aren’t other places you can get tacos downtown, but Salsa Limon does have a niche: It does street-style tacos, from the relatively prosaic (chicken) to the marginally adventurous (lengua — that is, tongue — and tripe) in a fast-casual style. Burritos and tortas are also available, and breakfast is available all day, which means all day — from 7 in the morning to, eventually, late at night.
Salsa Limon grew from a food truck to a brick-and-mortar on University Drive that has since moved — building and all — to White Settlement Road (that location isn’t currently serving but will be soon). There are also locations in the La Gran Plaza center off of South Freeway in south Fort Worth, and on University Drive across from TCU.
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Other than several colleagues, here’s what we spotted on our first visit.
The vibe: Boisterous and a little chaotic, although the latter had a lot to do with opening-day quirks — such as a pager system not working. As you walk in, you’ll pass a striking floral artwork on the southwall — and by “floral artwork,” I mean it’s a large work of art made from flowers. There are a few other paintings, and a cool little bar area where a lot of solo diners were perched with their tacos.
With the pager system down, the ordering — or, rather, the delivery — system was a little scrambled. Some customers were called by name when their orders were ready; others by their receipt number; others by the food they ordered, such as our lengua and barbacoa tacos and breakfast burrito. One of the employees at the busy counter was doing a yeoman’s job of expediting and keeping things straight, and once the lunch rush died down things got a little more calm.
Still, those pagers are necessary. As our Bud Kennedy notes in his latest Eats Beat, restaurants in the Tower are built around the skyscraper’s concrete support pillars, which makes navigation a little tricky, and the uncarpeted floor makes for a noisy atmosphere that made it hard to hear orders called out unless you were near the registers.
Owner Ramiro Ramirez says he will have the pager system up and running, and things will start running smoothly. We’ve been to his other locations enough to know that he’ll work things out, and quickly.
The food: Everything we had was uniformly excellent. Because these are street tacos, they’re a little on the small side, so if you’ve got a big appetite, you might want to consider going for at least three. I’m a big guy, and two did me OK, but just barely — and probably because I had a large glass of Salsa Limon’s horchata, which might be the best take on the cinnamon-toast-flavored drink in town.
There can be a learning curve to Salsa Limon, thanks to the varieties of tacos, burritos and bowls; you pick which one you want, then pick your filling (a vegetarian option is available). Not all that tricky, but a little online menu research is a good idea before your first visit. Chips and salsa aren’t complimentary, but are available for a relatively modest $1.50. The most expensive things on the menu are $8, plus whatever you choose for a filling (lengua, tripe and carne asada are “premium” fillings that cost a little more).
The verdict: What was that we were saying about this place being a couple of blocks away from our offices? Trust us, we’ll be back. And if you’re visiting downtown, which more people do during the Thanksgiving-Christmas season, this is a good, inexpensive option to check out.