A friend of mine who is working on his first entry into the restaurant world called me up to chat about his concept and asked if I was interested in grabbing a few tacos. I am always up for tacos and was curious as to which he would choose, especially since we will be examining tacos with our People’s Choice Award all week long.
Seems the friend was reading Cheap Bastard over at the Observer written by James Beard nominated Alice Laussade and admitted he read her religiously. Earlier this week Miss Bastard did a write up on an Oak Cliff taqueria called Cool & Hot off Eighth Street and I-35 in a converted Gulf station, and in her story she insisted my friend check the place out. I admit, I was a bit curious as well. I thought I had hit most taco stands in Dallas but this one escaped me somehow.
We ordered our tacos and enjoyed them as the many mosquitoes enjoyed us. They were pretty damned tasty as Alice described and worth the trip to check out. Particularly good were the picadillo and pastor, but the group also enjoyed breakfast tacos that they serve round the clock (open 24 hours on the weekend). The tortillas are the key to Cool & Hot as they are whisper thin.
My friends had not really been to Oak Cliff so I cautioned them not to over indulge on Cool & Hot tacos and invited them for a whirl-wind tour of a few places to grab other quick bites. The adventure was on.
We aimed the family truckster towards El Si Hay (across from Bolsa) for another round of tacos. For many years this had been my go-to for tacos, but not so much any more. The toritllas are a bit thicker than I would like for them to be, and as of late greasier than in the past. But El Si Hay has the best Elotes Cart in Dallas located on the side of the building of El Si Hay on Davis.
We stood in a line at 9pm for possibly 45 minutes. The line wasn’t long but the average order was a dozen, and each cup of elotes are hand made. For the uninitiated, the cup is comprised of fresh-off-the-cob corn, crema, queso de cotija (a finely grated hard goat cheese that is similar to Parmesan), montequilla (butter) and a slightly thick homemade red sauce that had the consistency and flavor of an enchilada sauce. There are two layers per cup and for something so amazingly simple, they are simply amazing.
Next we visited the Bishop Art’s area just down the street. Lockhart BBQ was open late and we heard the rhythm’s of a cool band blaring so we dropped in for some tunes and a cold beer. The Cliff was playing and if you ever get a chance to hear the band you will thank me for turning you on to them.
Two beers later and a few pounds of incredible late night ribs and brisket we were off to catch the few and a cocktail at another spot, also in Oak Cliff.
Next we stopped in to catch the view at the tallest point in Dallas, the Belmont Hotel. Dropping in late restaurant Smoke was prepping to close, so we just had a few beers and chatted up chef Tim Byres for a bit. The chef has some new menu ideas he gathered on a recent trip to Louisiana and I wanted to hear all the details.
I also learned that the Belmont has a lot more going on than I really knew about. First, the pool is open daily to locals and there is a bar and food service by one of the best pools in Dallas and has an amazing view of the city. This is the ideal spot for fireworks watching. If you plan to grab a spot July 4th go early, it will be crowded.
We decided it was time to head back across the bridge and stopped in at Lee Harvey’s for another cold one. We just missed the band, but for a hot evening it was breezy in the huge open air compound.
Saturday night proved to be a fantastic evening for an adventure. What will you be doing this weekend?