Taqueria Pinocho is located conveniently off Abram and Carroll Ave in a small shopping center, known as one of Dallas’s ‘authentic’ taco shops. Taqueria Pinocho was my first introduction to taquerias in the Dallas area thanks to a good friend of mine. So I found it fit of course to do my first taco visit for craveDFW. Pinocho has been open for years now and is owned by Francisco Gomez. Although, the location is not in one of Dallas’s best neighborhoods, do not let that deter you from enjoying the tacos from Pinocho.
As you walk in, you can’t help but to start salivating from the smell of meat and tortillas. Walk up to the counter, you’ll see all the meats stewing in their own juices which a technique called Guiso – the fat from its own meat stewing in the broth and making all the ingredients come together. The setup is very clear and simple when ordering tacos: you chose from a selection of 15 different proteins for your tacos, the staff quickly chops the meat and yet another guy places the meat onto a corn or flour tortilla and plates. The next guy hands you the tacos and 3 different types of salsas – green jalapeno, pico de gallo and red guajillo chili sauce. Tacos range in price anywhere from $1.10 to $1.35 depending on your tortilla.
If tacos are not on your agenda for the take down then perhaps the Sopes may be of interest to you as well. Sopes resemble thick tortillas and sometimes mistaken for gorditas, but these little crunchy goodies are fried then topped with whichever of the 15 meats you choose. As the same process as the tacos, the Sope is handed down from one staffer to another, and topped with refried beans, meat of choice, lettuce/tomato and crema (an acidified cream). Once again, you are supplied the 3 different salsas. Sopes are sold 3 for $5.75, which breaks down to a little less than $2 per each.
Chuy, the night manager whom I had the pleasure of talking to, states that the owner comes in the morning to start preparation of the meats, and Tony(assistant) comes in the afternoon to begin the evening preparation. All other staff members prepare other items for the day. Chuy claims that it’s only Francisco and Tony that handle the meats for Pinocho. Besides the tacos and sopes, Chuy and his staff take great pride in the Aguas Naturales (natural fruit waters) they make everyday. The selections stem anywhere from pineapple to melon, to which Chuy states everyone one should have one with their tacos and sopes. After much chatting with Chuy I decided it was time for me to try some of the other meats I hadn’t yet sampled.
I chose 5 meats that I was curious to taste; Higado (liver), Guiso de Puerco (roasted pork), Lengua (beef tongue), Borego (lamb) and Buche (pig stomach). These are not frightening as they may sound and once you try them you will find these tacos delightful. The Buche is the one that intrigued me the most since I had never tried it. Buche is basically the pigs stomach that is boiled (like Menudo) to soften it up and take away any gaminess. Then it’s roasted to perfection. Buche can be best described as close to a soft chicharron – tender, moist and slightly chewy. My least favorite taco — the Higado taco, simply because of the mineral taste you normally get from eating liver but nevertheless, still tasty.
Tony prepared my Sopes, which he claimed is one of Pinocho customer favorites. The toppings, with the heartiness of the masa for the Sopes, made for a pleasant taste in your mouth once bitten. The richness of the fat from the meats, well prepared masa and the tanginess of the crema all came together well.
Taqueria Pinocho proves to be a candidate in DFW for being a top place contender for tacos and then some. What makes for a great or prefect taco? My personal opinion is that all the ingredients that make up a taco must come together and unite as one to become delicious. However, I do have certain preferences when it comes to my idea of a perfect taco such as the tortilla being bathed in oil, meats must be moist and tender, avocado & Mexican cheese for toppings and who could forget the sautéed onions on the side. I will not allow those personal favorites to rule out a favorite but rather allow the tacos to speak for themselves. The search and hunt goes on as I seek out the perfect taco.Taqueria Pinocho 118 S Carroll Ave, Dallas