By ALMA HALL
Did you know National Taco Day is Wednesday, Oct. 4? I went on a taco tasting tour, because I’m a foodie who loves tacos. I took along my sister Blanca Jimenez and my friend Ray Hernandez, president of the Lewisville Area Chamber of Commerce.
We trekked to restaurants in Lewisville, Highland Village, Flower Mound and Carrollton. Our goal was to try the restaurant-recommended tacos that were the most popular for the taste test and pick the one that we agreed is best from each restaurant. At the end of the day we picked the most flavorful taco from all the restaurants we visited.
Here are some of our taco tour guidelines that earned a taco eatery extra points: First we look for handmade tortillas. They are much tastier than package tortillas. Another thing we watch for house-made salsa, in which you can taste the freshness. And who can resist table-top guacamole? It is delicious and comes with a show.
We look for meat that is cooked and grilled at the restaurant and not pre-packaged or heated in a microwave. Having an attentive and friendly wait staff that serves the food in a reasonable time is key for a pleasurable experience. Finally we considered the value coupled with the size of the servings.
170 Fox Ave., Lewisville
Price range $
Our first stop was Taqueria Guadalajara in Lewisville. The most flavorful taco was the barbacoa taco, served on a warm flour tortilla with diced onions, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Try the salsa for added flavor. Tacos were $1.99 each.
Taqueria Guadalajara is a family-oriented restaurant that has been in business for 20 years. They have authentic Mexican food like menudo and a traditional selection of tacos — lengua, carnitas, chorizo, tripas. They serve dine-in breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chips and salsa come with the meal. Fair warning: the salsa has a hot, healthy kick.
1601 Village Parkway Suite k110, Highland Village
Price range $$
Next, we visited Torchy’s Tacos in Highland Village. The number one taco choice was the green chile pork taco at $3.75 for each taco — it features slow roasted pork carnitas simmered with green chilies and is topped with cotija cheese, onion, cilantro and a lime wedge with a tomatillo sauce on a corn tortilla.
Torchy’s has sixteen locations and started in 2006 in Austin. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has casual dining with a bar.
3750 Long Prairie Road Suite 100, Flower Mound
Price range $$
Our crew’s third destination was Taco Ocho, where the number one taco pick was the jalapeno pork taco at $3.50 each. The taco had pork braised with jalapenos and tomatillos, queso fresco, cilantro, on a flour tortilla. While the menu has a Mexican influence, they have drawn from flavors across Latin America. Their recipes and flavors hail from Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
Taco Ocho serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has casual dining.
1628 W. Hebron Parkway Suite 120, Carrollton
Price range $$
The group made its way to Zocados Mexican Restaurant for the final taste test. The winner there were the street tacos filled with spicy chicken, served with lettuce and tomato on a corn tortilla.
At Zocados, expect all the Tex-Mex classics you know and love with a twist. They serve lunch and dinner. It has nice, modern casual dining.
The overall hands-down, knock-your-socks-off taco of the entire taco tour was the street taco at Zocados. It will make you giddy, like a fiesta in your mouth. The chicken was tender and seasoned perfectly with the right amount of heat coupled with Monterey Jack cheese. The tortillas were even made to perfection.They were put on the griddle with a light amount of oil before the filling was added.
Zocados says that if you want all the flavor of a five-star Mexican restaurant, but without the crazy-high prices, that is what it offer. Zocados did not disappoint. Between its relaxed indoor dining area and spacious bar with its own outdoor patio, it felt like a nice date or family dinner night place without breaking the bank.
Taqueria Guadalajara was the runner up for authentic Mexican food with a good price point.
Consider taking your own taco tour. It will be a mouth-watering experience.
Alma Hall is an author, realtor and all-around foodie. She wrote the book “Tacos and Tortillas – Noe Saves the Day.” Hall can be contacted at Alma@foodie.com for food tours or cooking classes. Hall can also be booked for speaking engagements and book signings.