Anyone who has stood in a long, slow-moving line at the Southlake location of Torchy’s Tacos knows that the Austin-based chain is one of the most popular places in Southlake.
And yet, other taco joints keep taking it on.
Tiny, hard-to-spot Frezko Taco Spot has developed a cult following at the eastern end of Southlake Boulevard; Chiloso Mexican Bistro, a small North Texas fast-casual chain, announced recently that it will add a Southlake location.
And then there’s Un Rincon de Mexico, located in a former Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant at the back of a parking lot on Southlake Boulevard. Like Frezko, it’s a little hard to spot: The Un Rincon de Mexico logo is painted on the windows, but after several months in business, the restaurant has no electronic signage.
Several things make Un Rincon de Mexico unusual. For one, the pizza oven is still there, and the restaurant offers pizza Wednesday through Sunday evenings (the online menu lists only one pizza, but the restaurant actually offers a half-dozen or so).
And unlike a lot of taquerias, Un Rincon has (very friendly) table service, rather than fast-casual, order-at-the-counter type.
The regular menu is pretty simple: nine taco options, more than a dozen tortas, a couple of quesadillas. Pozole is available Saturdays; menudo Saturdays and Sundays.
We took a couple of trips to check out the tacos and then the tortas. Our taco choices were pretty straightforward: chicken, barbacoa and al pastor (pork in adobo) sauce, $1.75 each for the traditional, smaller street-style taco (instead of the overstuffed Austin-style ones you get at that other place).
All the meats were well-cooked and flavorful, although we really didn’t get much of a sauce hit from the al pastor. In a nice touch, servers bring small, artfully presented dishes of diced onions, pico de gallo, cilantro, limes and red and green salsas to the table. If you think anything you ordered unadorned lacks spicy heat, don’t worry — one of the salsas will do the trick. Both the red and the green were plenty tongue-burning, in the best way.
Tortas were appropriately large, with pressed bread that kept the bread from overwhelming the fillings. But then, there are plenty of fillings: Each comes with mayo, mustard, cheese, tomato, onions, avocado, jalapeño and chipotle sauce.
The Cubana ($8) is not for Cuban-sandwich purists and is, frankly, a bit nuts: rather than the traditional ham-pork-cheese-pickles-mustard combo, this one includes a large amount of ham, a hot dog, chorizo and grilled pork atop all the aforementioned torta ingredients. It’s the sort of thing where all the ingredients blend into one satisfying mouthful, but it can be difficult to distinguish individual components.
Despite the jalapeño and chipotle, there wasn’t much of a spicy zing to the sandwich, but the ham and the hot dog stood out in the crowd, and the avocado gave it a pleasant smoothness.
If you’re in a relatively more subtle mood, the pollo ($7) might be a better choice. Again, there’s a generous portion of well-seasoned meat, and this time the smokiness of the chipotle came through.
Both sandwiches required forks, although the tortilla chips brought to the table were good vehicles for picking up the overflow. Or just ask for a tortilla to mop up the mess.
Although our choices were fairly prosaic, taco/torta fillings also include lengua (tongue), cabeza (head) and tripa (tripe), bringing Un Rincon de Mexico more in line with Fort Worth’s Salsa Limon than with its Austin-based Southlake neighbor.
There’s also an inviting bar in this roomy restaurant, where none of the items on the regular menu are more than $8. Pizzas weren’t available on our visits, but we’re curious enough about them to return.