by Danielle Leahy photos by Jacque Manaugh
If Dallas street taco lover’s had a Mecca, Fuel City would be it. Even for all the naysayer’s at trip, at the least, is a requirement to judge the state of taco affairs in our City. Fuel City has long been called Dallas Best Street Tacos and, for the most part, started the gas station taco trend in Dallas as we know it. But what’s beyond the hype? Are the tacos really that good? Well with the all new covered patio in place that seats 70 the Tacobots decided to invade the parking-lot and find out the truth for themselves.
First, you should know about Fuel City is it is cash only so don’t get in line (and yes there is ALWAYS a line) before you visit the ATM located just a few feet down from the outside window.
Second, might I suggest, you use the wait time to your advantage and send one of your party members to the Elote Stand (again cash only) for either Small ($1.50) or Large ($2.50) elotes en vasos to snack on while you wait. Corn in a cup for those still uninitiated to the glorious calorie-laden miracle that is Mexican corn, consisting of roasted and shucked niblets mixed with mayo, butter, lime juice, crema Mexicana, cotija cheese, chili powder, salt, and TONS of fiery Valentina hot sauce. And they do not skimp on the Valentina at Fuel City my taco loving friends.
My mouth began to burn after the first few spoonfuls and with my esophagus and stomach soon following, we had to once again send reinforcements into the gas station for cokes and milks to stop the burn, because at no point was there an option to put down or walk away from the deliciousness of the elotes en vaso.
They say that beauty is pain, well some times as any heat lover knows, so is good food.
And good food it was indeed. The legend of Fuel City is no myth, they have damn good street tacos. It is a certain quality within these tacos that makes them rise above the masses: but how does one define authenticity as it applies to food? My trusty dictionary considers authentic to mean “conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features” or “made or done the same way as the original” and that’s where Fuel City seems to win above most others, it TASTES like a recipe handed down amongst generations, you feel like this taco is what the family running it would make for their friends, their family, for anyone or anywhere else.
So often you get the impression from gas station taco stands that this is food the people working there would neither eat themselves or serve their family and the recipes are nothing more than quick imitations of what they think their customer might like or even worst, a recipe-less blending together of the barest essential ingredients (meat, onion, cilantro, lime) so they can slap it on a tortilla and call it a street taco.
Fuel City tastes like food someone’s grandmother made them growing up, and it is this authenticity that makes them so apologetically good. Are they the BEST in Dallas? Well that’s a question for individual taste buds and not for me to decide for you but I can tell you this, not single Tacobot was disappointed and very many went back for seconds and thirds, the highest praise I have yet to see from our group while on a street taco meet-up.
As for the tacos, the dinner menu features five options: Picadillo (one of the best rated tacos in Dallas), barbacoa, al pastor, beef fajita and chicken fajita.
The chicken and beef are both sautéed with onions and came out juicy and well cooked, with a mild but pleasant flavor. Bailey the 2yr old Babybot was with us this night and she loved these.
Al pastor was wonderful, a deep red/orange and overflowing with juice and sauce running out of the tacos and onto the to-go container. These are not eat in your lap tacos, you will want to be seated when take on these suckers. Barbacoa was another group favorite and contained the softness and smoky flavor expected of it’s namesake.
Finally the Picadillo: a combination of ground beef, diced potatoes, and green sauce. By far the most well loved of all the tacos this one contains not only a unique spiciness and flavor from the green sauce as apposed to the rest of the menu but the diced potatoes really added a great layer of not only flavor but texture to what would otherwise be a basic ground beef taco.
It’s also the one that reminded me the most of my Grandmother. And that’s where Fuel City stands alone, not because Grandma’s cooking was the best in the City… but because it’s was Grandma’s, take it or leave it.