I've been to enough of the taquerias that dot Dixie Highway in northern Fort Lauderdale and Pompano to say that this one's the one to go to. They recently opened a second location in suburban Tamarac, but when I went there they were offering more or less the usual boring Cal-Mex menu. Not so here, in a little L-shaped strip center amid the salvage yards, body shops and tumbledown neighborhoods that follow the freight tracks. If you've been in any of the other area "real Mexican" places, the first surprise is how polished the place is: warm colors, lots of tile and brick, a spotless, well-designed open kitchen, and waitresses wearing wireless headsets. What is this, an Outback?
Grab a menu and you'll be cured of that notion in no time. No burritos or nachos or frozen margaritas, and on the list of meats for the tacos? Not just carne asada and chicken and the reasonably common lengua (tongue) and carnitas and tripe, but such things as cabeza (in this case beef cheeks) and cueritos (stewed, shredded pork skin) and a nice crusty, glistening spindle of al pastor. I had a few of the more exotic cuts and all were good, the cabeza was especially rich and earthy. The mole tamale had good body and just ther right level of corny sweetness and an assertively rich mole.
It appears at least some of the tortillas are made to order on the premises, but thyey may also be using fresh oines made in advance. Unlike the great little shack Tacos al Carbon way up around Lake Worth, which dresses its tacos with queso blanco and tomato, this place is by the book: diced onion, cilantro, lime wedges, and a garnish of thick grilled stalks of green onion.
Certainly the best "street-food" Mexican I've had in Broward County by far, and from the looks of everything else coming out of the kitchen, they take it farther. Their chilaquiles, which is something that usually looks like sad, mushy tortilla chips in a basic red tomato sauce, looked divine, tossed in a skillet with a thick orange-red sauce that looked like an Italian quatro formaggio. Ai!
The aguas frescas all appeared to be homemade, which may bode well for the champurrado.
All right, so maybe they don't have pig stomach or snout meat (then again, maybe they do; I'll ask next time) and the tortillas they used weren't pressed to order, but if you know of better overall within an hour of Fort Lauderdale, speak up. For now, I'm looking forward to going back for a brunch of pozole or sopa de camarones and a couple of Negro Modelos. See you there.
[Taqueria Dona Raquel, 793 S. Dixie Highway West (southbound side), Pompano Beach, FL. (954) 946-4490; Open 7 days. Busy as all get-out at times. Many on staff speak no English at all, so if that bothers you go find a Chili's instead. Oh, and there's a good Mexican grocery next door.]