by Steven Doyle
I am stepping out on a culinary limb today and pronouncing the end to all things taco.
Well, not really. The taco is a delicious canvas for enjoying various meats and vegetables, and I think it has had a pretty good run, especially in these parts for the past several years.
Sure, I love a giant haunch of beef ala Nick and Sam’s, and the lacquered duck at Five Sixty makes me lose control. Not a week goes by that I do not visit one pho kitchen or noodle house in Dallas, and dim sum is a required lunch for me three or four times a month. Once, I visited Kirin Court three days in a row, and the waiter made sure to point that out to my lunch mates causing a 30-minute round of verbal Punch and Judy at my expense.
I am sad to say, dear taco, that I have been unfaithful. Over the past few months I have had a secret affair with the loving, and what I consider more delicious, gordita. I have been seeking platefuls of these edible wonders and making note for future visits to taquerias that sport the tiny delicacy.
What makes a great gordita is freshness. This means just-made. Consider the gordita to be a smaller and fatter cousin to the tortilla. The gordita is best made with a fresh wad of masa, pressed and griddled. Once the bread is made, the gordita is often split then filled with the same ingredients as the taco. It can also be lined with a smooth swipe of frijoles for a bit of lubrication, then tenderly stuffed with rajas, carne guisada, or any number meats from the usual lineup of taqueria favorites.
A squirt of crema or guacamole and a dash of cheese (hopefully queso fresco) complete the tiny sandwich.
You may find the gordita, your new best friend, at any number of taquerias and Mexican restaurants around town. We will supply you with a few then we wish that you will begin your quest in asking for them by name.
Cuiquita’s has two locations, one in Garland and another in Farmers Branch, and each will make a delicious gordita. These people have their hands in masa all day making tortillas and tamales from scratch. This version is made with the meaty Guisado de Res.
Avila’s located on Maple is in the gordita game and makes a superb version that is plated as a full meal.
There are multiple locations of Taqueria la Paisanita including the one we love most located on Davis in Oak Cliff, but they all make the gordita and have them ready and waiting.
El Atoron on Munger is simply amazing. The gordita is king, but please try the giant quesadilla. Oh my.