Sometimes you find great tacos in unexpected places. There I was at a Cocktail Week event at Lola’s Trailer Park (2735 W 5th, 817-759-9100) – which included the curious combination of so much booze and axe throwing – when I remembered, too late, that my alcohol tolerance has dwindled since the appearance of my double-headed spawn. Dayne’s Craft Barbecue was catering the event, and the menu appeared to have a decidedly south-of-the-border bent, with flaming-hot elotes and pork belly tacos – called Bacon Brisket – on offer. I needed something in my stomach before I forgot how funny I’m not after a couple of stiff ones.
The corn lived up to its spicier-than-thou billing, but the taco stole the show –– and soaked up enough booze to steady my axe-aim. (In another life, I was a crime-fighting lumberjack with a drinking problem.) The thick-cut, sweet-but-not-cloying swine was smoked to a buttery texture, drizzled with chile-infused honey, and accompanied by pickled red onions, feta cheese, and micro greens, all swaddled in a fresh-tasting flour tortilla. The tinge of honey balanced the spice of the chile oil, and the creamy feta cut through the fat of the pork like a switchblade through a balloon.
I was so impressed, I revisited the weekly pop-up, whose permanent home is now Lola’s expansive backyard area on Saturdays only, after a brief flirtation with the space that formerly occupied Americado on West Berry Street. Though I didn’t partake of the tacos again, the half-pound of brisket ($11) was moist, smoky, and fork-tender. Also worth noting, Dayne’s sides – I sampled the smoked beans and potato salad – were anything but an afterthought, as is the case at most ’cue joints. The place stays open until the food is gone, which can happen early if the weather is nice.
If Dayne’s tacos were a genre-bending surprise, the grub at new Eastside standout Tacos los Irresistibles (1308 N Sylvania Av, 682-841-1144) is a far more traditional revelation.
The first thing I noticed about the strip-mall joint was its professional-looking Dia de los Muertos-inspired branding on the menus, waitstaff shirts, and marketing materials. I wouldn’t ordinarily mention such a thing, but the time and effort (and probably money) that the owners have sunk into the appearance of their business set it apart from other neighboring taco joints whose peripherals are filled with clip art, shabby-looking food pics, and frijoles-stained menus.
The interior is long and lean, with a walkup counter for to-go orders featuring a prominent case full of carniceria fare. Televisions dot the otherwise barren walls, and a condiment bar is stationed in the middle of the room for guilt-free onion-piling. Irresistibles’ tacos are straightforward double-plied corn tortillas crammed with meat.
The highlights of my gorging included the chile-rubbed trompo (pork), tender carnitas, tacos de Tlaquepaques (like barbacoa but steamed), and a rich, piquant cup of beans swimming in pork fat. The green salsa was thick, well seasoned, and criminally spicy. Service was prompt and pleasant, despite the bustle of the afternoon lunch rush.
It’s nice to find tacos in unexpected locales, but it’s equally comforting to walk in and know that a restaurant or pop-up is about to meet or exceed your expectations. You can have both at Dayne’s and Tacos los Irresistibles.