Those of us living in the big city are accustomed to having 37 taco joints within walking distance. But the poor schlubs surviving in the unincorporated areas of the county are stuck with meager options. In the sticks northwest of here, where I live, we typically drive to Azle or Lake Worth to track down a tasty tortilla stuffed with greasy meats.
Last year, all the people with growling stomachs near FM 730 South became excited after a construction crew built a Kwik Stop convenience store (12555 FM 730 S, Azle, 817-270-5430) with a Taco Time Mexican Grill inside. Dollar Bills, a nearby convenience store with limited inventory, had removed its gas pumps, leaving a dearth of petrol in the area. Kwik Stop introduced numerous gas pumps and really tasty “street tacos” to the country crowd. This makes five Taco Times that have opened inside Kwik Stops in the Azle-Springtown area in recent years. I say, “Bring ’em on!”
A beef taco plate with rice, beans, and a drink sells for $8. The chicken version is slightly cheaper. Both come chock full of fresh cilantro, chopped onions, jalapeño, white cheddar cheese, and the obligatory lime wedges. The staff oils and warms the tortillas on a hot grill and assembles everything while you watch. They use one corn tortilla per taco only – many street vendors use two. But Taco Time doesn’t scrimp where it counts. The seasoned meat and fresh pico de gallo create a rhapsody of flavors.
Here’s a tip from this regular customer: The rice is usually bland and the refried beans too creamy and lard-filled for my taste, so rather than order the taco plate, I buy four individual tacos and forgo the rice and beans for about the same price.
I’ve saved the best advice for last. The good folks at Taco Time make homemade salsas. The red stuff is spicy and good, but it’s the green that rocks my world. The salsa verde provides a kick without being painfully hot. The sauce relies on the natural flavor of jalapeño rather than diluting it with tomatilla and garlic. Order your taco to go, and you’ll leave with a couple of tiny plastic cups filled with a smidgen of salsa, barely enough to adorn one taco, much less three or four. Ask for extra cups, and the clerks charge 25 cents a pop. My dining pleasure is escalated greatly when eating in the dining room at the back of the store. In-store diners are handed squeeze bottles filled with the magic green stuff. You can smother your tacos without giving away all of your quarters. The 10 small tables are usually clean since an employee makes regular rounds to wipe things down and refill napkin holders.
The grill’s menu includes other south-of-the-border fare such as tostadas, tortas, gorditas, sopes, and quesadilla plates. And it offers a juicy cheeseburger ($4) with all the fixings that is comparable in taste and quality to Dairy Queen. (That’s a compliment from me.) But, like the sign out front says, it’s Taco Time, and that’s what I consume nine times out of 10 without regret. If you come with a crowd, bulk orders of 10 or 20 tacos sell at a discount.