There are probably two reasons you don’t want to eat at Velvet Taco: You’re still sore about its replacing The Gold Standard. And Velvet Taco comes from Dallas. Honestly, both are kind of silly, but if harboring those grudges keeps you out of Velvet Taco’s line, well, that’s a shorter wait for the rest of us.
Though not by much. Since opening just last week, Velvet Taco has had lines that have gone out the door. But even when the joint’s rustic wooden tables look full, the wait is pretty reasonable, possibly because these delectable tacos tend to disappear in a few bites.
Besides a few sides like the dish of elote-style rotisserie corn, breakfast casserole-esque potatoes, and local eggs, the main fare here is indeed tacos — 21 different types. While they mostly maintain the basic form, their fillings run an exotic gamut of cuisines ranging from Cuban to Vietnamese, with a lot of Mediterranean and Indian in between.
Take the falafel, for example. Wrapped in a lettuce leaf like a taco, the patties of delicately fried chickpeas came drizzled in a tahini sauce, resulting in a nice, nutty taste offset by the pungent tang of red onion and mellow avocado. It was nicely spicy without much heat to distract your palate; in general, you could probably get away with a meal of two tacos, since they’re all sort of big, but the falafel is light enough if you want to stuff yourself with a third. It goes well with the tender steak in the grilled Mediterranean flank taco (feta, tzatziki, and fresh dill), itself a juicy, chewy masterpiece that would be at home in a pretty good Turkish restaurant.
As fun as sampling Eastern-oriented taco variations is, Velvet Taco also has plenty of comfort food-inspired flavors to appease palates that are unabashedly ’Murrican. In particular, the Texas Burger is a satisfying choice for the less adventurous. Its combo of peppery bacon and regular ol’ cheeseburger condiments (lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and pickle) is a little like eating a really good slider.
You’d probably want to try this alongside the roast pork chilaquile. Dripping with queso blanco, charred tomato salsa, and pico de gallo, the shredded pork and eggs sat atop a bed of tortilla strips and flecks of cilantro. Despite all the stuff packed into the tortilla, the major flavor was cheese.
The chilaquile taco isn’t the best of Velvet’s bunch but it might be a good intro for those leery of another, spicier option: the tikka chicken taco. Lightly fried chicken came piled on basmati rice, all of it topped with raita crema. Each bite offered a bit of crunch, peppery tikka spice, a little sweetness from the yogurt-based raita, and the vaguely lemony flavor of Thai basil.
The other taco that really stood out was the humble fish ’n’ chips. Fried Atlantic cod mingled with a spicy curry mayo and salty potato strings with shredded lettuce and pea tendrils (the early stems of a pea plant). You’d expect to taste nothing but fried batter, but then the crunchy, salad-like greens and the mayo added their own notes of clarity to each buttery bite.
With its late hours; fast, personable service; and handsome, cozy interior (it’s pretty much elbow to elbow at lunch), Velvet Taco is a worthy if entirely different successor to TGS. Its beer selection is pretty good (lots of local cans, plus PBR and Lone Star), and the people-watching is interesting, too. Say what you want about the hype, but Velvet Taco lives up to its reputation.
2700 W 7th St, FW. 817-887-9810. 9am-12am Sun, 11am-12am Mon-Wed, 11am-3am Thu, 11am-4am Fri-Sat. MasterCard, Visa accepted.
Crisp tikka chicken taco ………….. $3.95
Texas Burger taco …………………. $3.75
Grilled Mediterranean flank taco . $4.50
Fish ’n’ chips taco ………………….. $5.25