El Rincon de Villa opened a couple of months ago on Greenville Ave. (just south of Park), holding itself out as a Mexico City style taqueria. Keep your eyes open or you might drive right past it, since it's small, with only a handful of parking places. The interior is brightly colored--yellows and blues--with various aphorisms (en Espanol, some moderately ribald) painted on the walls. Orders are placed at the counter, but food and drinks delivered to the tables. Most of the kitchen is visible from the dining area. (However, in the latest numbers available online, they received a 73 food inspection score--barely passing. Open kitchens are no guarantee of safety.)
While the offerings aren't so different from typical taqueria fare as one might expect given the "D.F." billing, they do have a few items seldom seen in local establishments, including tamales Oaxaquenos and huaraches. (Several items, including the Oaxacan tamales, pozole, and barbacoa, are only available on weekends.) On my first visit, I ordered one huarache and a taco. The huarache ($3) was enormous (maybe 10" x 4"), with a good layer of beans, sauteed beef, nopales, and onions, topped with a mountain of lettuce, sprinkled with cheese and drizzled with crema. Better yet, it tasted great. The beef was tender and flavorful. The nopales (though almost certainly jarred, rather than fresh) brought a pleasant textural change and green beanish flavor. And the salad elements didn't overwhelm the base of tortilla, bean, and meat. A very good example of a Mexican street food that's unfortunately underrepresented in our local taquerias. The taco was chicharron in a salsa verde. While it wasn't bad, it wasn't very good, either. Not worth repeating.
On my second visit, I had a tostada and another huarache and taco. The tostada de tinga (beef, rather than the traditional pork) consisted of a crisp fried tortilla (from a sack--not fresh) spread with refried beans, topped with the tinga (beef stewed with chipotles), lettuce, cheese, and crema, providing a nice blend of spicy and cool, crunchy and soft. A good morsel for the price ($1.50). The huarache this time was chorizo and potato. Again, it did not disappoint. The chorizo, mildly spicy, was ground with tomatoes and chiles, mixed with well-cooked potatoes in a fine dice, resulting in a consistency somewhat like refried beans--an interesting and very tasty preparation. The taco this time was pollo. The tortilla was filled with large chunks of tender chicken (white and dark meat) in a gently spiced sauce. While it was better (in its category) than the taco de chicharron, it's not likely to make anyone's "best of" list.
My third visit came on a weekend. So I tried an order of the "weekend special" Oaxacan tamales and alhambres. Three tamales arrived with the order--two wrapped in banana leaf and one in corn husks. There was one chicken and serrano tamale, one stewed pork in a red sauce, and one with just rajas (bell pepper and poblano). The masa on each was dense and bland. None of the fillings made much of an impression on me or my dining companion. The same can basically be said of the alhambres, a flat-tasting hash of beef, chorizo, onions, peppers, and cheese that, at the end of the day, left us yawning. A salsa bar stands near the counter, stocked with onions, cilantro, limes, and three salsas--one mild, fresh tomatillo-based, one with roasted serranos and a heavy cilantro component, and one red salsa jumped up with jalapenos. Salsas were adequate but not exceptional.
There's still a lot to try on the menu (including their tortas, which appear to be popular among other customers). But, from what I've seen so far, El Rincon's strength appears to lie in huaraches. And, at $3 each, they're an excellent value.
Speaking of taquerias, it would be nice if we could get a group of DFW Chowhounders to divide and conquer the many taquerias in the city, in order to find the best of the best in every category.
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