You know this story: guy makes tacos and sells them out of a food truck before eventually (in this case, about three years later) working that into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Owner Scott Wooley’s So-Cal Tacos stands out from the pack of truck-cum-restaurants mainly because of the location. The food truck he named Woody, which is adorned with longboards and other 1960s coastal California paraphernalia, is now parked at a Grapevine address. The actual physical location is across the street from Colleyville in a part of almost-Fort Worth a couple of miles west of the airport.
2140 Hall-Johnson Rd, Grapevine.
682-223-1316. 10am-8pm Sun-Mon, 10am-9pm Tue-Thu, 10am-10pm Fri-Sat.
All major credit cards accepted.
The menu is unabashedly Cali-Mex, and with the exception of the salsa, red sauce is scarce. There are black beans as opposed to frijoles refritos, and the bill of fare offers several fish options, although the restaurant nods to Tex-Mex cuisine with pastor, chicken, and beef dishes. Much like at any of the faster food taco joints, you order at the register, take a number, and wait at a table for your food, which all comes out at once unless you think to plan better.
The best way to start a meal at a taco restaurant is with queso. So-Cal’s yummy cheese blend was unexpectedly spicy, with different kinds of peppers that provided both an initial jolt of warmth and lingering heat. The dip didn’t thicken up to the consistency of concrete as it cooled, which was nice. The guacamole was exceptionally fresh but suffered from too little salt (easily fixable) and an overabundance of raw diced onion. Fair warning: The guac and many other dishes were heavy on the cilantro. This is only a problem if you’re one of the people genetically predisposed to dislike the herb, but it can be left off most of the food if you ask.
Tacos come one per order, either on a standard-size flour tortilla or a slightly smaller, doubled-up set of corn tortillas. My dining companion picked the brisket taco, which came stuffed with chopped meat marinated in an adequate, slightly smoky, spicy sauce –– the place isn’t a barbecue joint, after all. The taco was adorned with grilled and crispy fried onions, both tasty. As far as tacos go, it wasn’t the worst either of us ever ate, but it wasn’t in the top 10.
However, the Laguna Shrimp Taco, with a slightly spicy seasoning blend on the grilled shellfish, was a little more impressive. The plump shrimp were grilled to perfection and covered with a ton of nicely crunchy slaw and a creamy, mild garlicky cilantro aioli sauce instead of cheese.
The Newport Burrito was actually a better choice than either taco. Grilled steak marinated in a mild fajita-ish spice blend and a generous portion of rice, black beans, tomato, and cilantro were all bundled into a fairly large flour tortilla. The burrito was sauceless and could have been eaten like a sandwich. We declined the offer to make the burrito more “Cali-like” by adding fries to the middle of it, but that option exists.
The only real disappointment of our visit turned out to be the sopapilla fries. Yes, the menu disclaimed that the “fries” are actually fried strips of flour tortillas covered with honey, cinnamon, and powdered sugar. The end result was underwhelming, and I missed the puffy, sticky, lick-the-cinnamon-sugar-off-your-fingers goodness of real sopapillas. The honey was also pre-poured onto the dessert, which meant that the fried tortilla strips got soggier as the meal went along.
So-Cal’s bar is stocked up with a decent amount of local beer, including Grapevine Craft Brewery and Rahr & Sons, as well as all the hooch you’d want. For a place with a bar, the restaurant was surprisingly family-friendly. On the Saturday when we stopped in, the happy hour special all day was bottomless house-made Bloody Marys or mimosas. There are other good specials, including a dollar off all tacos except for the breakfast variety on Tuesdays.
Queso or guacamole $4.50
Brisket taco $4.99
Laguna Taco $3.50
Newport Burrito $7.75
Sopapilla fries $3.50[/box_info]