Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action, Mr. Bond.
– Auric Goldfinger
There’s a similar saying in journalism, except that the third time marks a “trend,” and lifestyle writers are dispatched to cover it. Well, here’s Chow, Baby just slightly ahead of the curve again, announcing a hip new food fashion – taquerias taking over Harwood Road locations formerly occupied by Puerto Rican restaurants – even though it has only two examples. So far.
The first, if you’re driving from the west (and who isn’t, especially at 5 p.m.), is Mi Casa, which took over the late Coqui Bakery spot in the Woodview Village strip at Hurstview Drive (544 W. Harwood Rd., Hurst). As in its former incarnation, the place is strip-mall plain but smells great, and the service is competent and family-friendly. Soft corn-tortilla tacos ($1.50 each or $6.99 plate) are stuffed with your choice of half a dozen meats; Chow, Baby’s pick is the brisket marinated in the Muñoz family’s secret sauce. The pastor (adobo-marinated pork) was nicely spiced but stringy-dry, and the barbacoa (shredded beef) was none too flavorful, though the house-made salsas resolved both problems. Chow, Baby chose carne asada for its burrito (8″ $2.75, 12″ $5.50) and was quite satisfied with that. Plates include “Grandma’s Style” enchiladas, two small ground beef wraps dashed with cheese and red sauce, not a bargain at $6.99. But the melt-in-the-mouth house-made flan ($1.75) was a sale of the century.
Mi Casa is likable, but Cachito’s, which has taken over the late Mofongo’s space in Bedford (2119 Harwood Rd. at Central, behind the Kroger), is fall-in-lovable. The first swooning was for Cachito’s homemade horchata: Here, the chilled rice-water drink is less sweet than most taquerias’ premixed incarnations, and fortified with lime, almonds, and lots of cinnamon. Chow, Baby had a small glass ($1), then a large ($2), then, embarrassed, ordered an extra large ($2.50) to go “for the sweetie.” Sweetie got to sniff the empty cup.
Cachito’s menu is one value meal after another. The tacos are a quarter less than Mi Casa’s, the fillings-portions are larger, and the meats are more savory. Chow, Baby couldn’t pick just one favorite – oh, maybe the carnitas (roasted pork bits), but it was a close race. The meats can also be folded into tortas ($4) or burritos ($4) or served naked with rice and beans ($4). Tongue and tripe cost a little bit more; Chow, Baby didn’t, um, have time to try those, but it did take a stab at the chile relleno burrito ($4.50). It reminded Chow, Baby of chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick, in the sense that the fusion may not quite work, but the idea is cool.
Another neat idea, but poorly executed, is the small daily specials board – Chow, Baby didn’t spot the $3.99 taco meal until it was waddling out the door. Don’t make that mistake. Also neat is the serve-yourself salsa bar, though the green was a little bitter on the day Chow, Baby visited. With everything else perfect (well, no flan), we’ll consider that to be a momentary lapse. Yes, do go the extra couple of miles to Cachito’s. This is the one; we don’t need a third.
Contact Chow, Baby at firstname.lastname@example.org.