Owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Art and Elisa Juarez, Cumino’s Tacos Frescos ys Mas is a welcome dose of freshness and authenticity in the Chainsville known as Arlington –– even though Chainsville has left its mark on the location. The Juarezes, Elisa said, spent a lot of time looking for a spot that had both a drive-thru window and access to a busy intersection. Cumino’s sits in an old Taco Bell building, and the color scheme of yellow, orange, and purple works well enough with the new owners’ idea of homemade Mexican food served pronto. Just about everything –– the hand-formed corn tortillas, the flour tortillas, the giant jars of aguas frescas, and the slow-simmered guisada –– is made on-site. Unlike at some other places that slow-cook everything, the service here is brisk.
For starters, Cumino’s offers a red salsa that’s chunky, spicy perfection. Garlic, miscellaneous peppers, and minced red onion combine with tomatoes to produce heat just this side of “burn your lips off.” The green tomatillo sauce packed less heat and needed a little salt.
Cumino’s serves up some items that you won’t find anywhere else this side of the North Side, including old-school carnitas (pulled pork, slow-cooked for hours). The carnitas plate came with onion, peppers, and lime to augment the hefty portion of tender meat. Also along for the ride: delicious charro beans, plain rice, and homemade tortillas. The gorditas come with two generous pockets of corn masa filled with your choice of carnitas, ground beef, or fajita meat, along with shredded lettuce, tomato, and a scoop of guacamole. Substitute beans for the rice: The refried were deliciously lardy, courtesy of a little helping of fat from the carnitas. The fajita chicken was fine, not fiery at all, but a little portion of red salsa on top fixed that. And the guacamole isn’t chunky and mashed but served whipped smooth with cilantro, garlic, and red onion and a little lime. It’s the kind of guacamole I’d make if I had an immersion blender or weren’t so lazy. The big, fluffy gorditas were just right for scooping the guacamole and the excellent red salsa.
The only menu item that was less than stellar was the beef fajita taco, made from Nolan Ryan’s naturally raised cow. The meat was tender and cooked with the Mexican version of mirepoix (mild green peppers, onion, and black pepper). Unfortunately, it was kind of plain and not that tasty. That’s easily remedied, though: Cumino’s offers eight other tacos, including barbacoa, pork in a red sauce, and bean and cheese.
There weren’t any desserts at Cumino’s as of this writing, but a cup of the homemade horchata (one of the two aguas frescas available when we dined) should soothe any sweet tooth. The sugary, creamy, milky vanilla-cinnamon beverage, ladled out of an icy jug, tasted like rice pudding without the rice bits.
Cumino’s sits in an area of Arlington where restaurants can’t serve anything stronger than beer. The owners are trying to decide on going either the BYOB or beer-only route, but for now, soft drinks and aguas frescas will have to suffice. And you won’t walk away hungry.
Cumino’s Tacos Frescos y Mas
105 S Bowen Rd, Arlington. 817-303-4333.
8am-8pm Sun, closed Mon, 11:30am-8pm Tue-Fri, 8am-8pm Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
Carnitas plate …………………….. $6.75
Gorditas …………………………….. $6.75
Beef fajita taco …………………… $2.50
Side of guacamole ………………. $1.50
Horchata ……………………………. $1.85