As the name hints, you’re given only one choice of meat at Guajardo’s Tacos Al Pastor (1703 NW 28th St, 817-626-6793). In the spirit of keeping things simple – nay, real – the kitchen offers the chile-dusted slow-cooked pork on only two vessels: tacos or tortas. You’re not asked for your preference of corn or flour tortillas or wheat or white bread.
You have to appreciate the brashness that level of simplicity communicates. The owners are saying, “This is what we do. If you want variety, there are a 100 other places less than five minutes away. Enjoy the free chips. If you want this one meat cooked perfectly and eaten the way we think represents it best, then have a seat and prepare for the most kick-ass version of pastor you’ll find this side of Trump’s ill-conceived monument to racism that he calls a wall.” I’m paraphrasing, of course.
In that same my-way-or-the-barrio ethos, the blink-and-miss-it Northside taqueria doesn’t open until 1pm, a time that signals the end of the lunch rush for most places. This eatery plays by its own rules, like so many late-night TV renegade detectives – it’s the Ponch of the Fort Worth taco scene: gritty, yet so attractive.
Of course, none of the devil-may-care sass I’m projecting onto the place matters if the one meat it serves isn’t good. I’ll spare you the suspense. It’s divine. I’d place it squarely in the Top 5 for pastor in this city – somewhere between Mariachi’s Dine-In and Taqueria San Luis.
The Guajardo’s harum-scarum experience starts with its bizarre exterior. The yellow street-facing sign is so faded, you can barely see it up close. If you’re driving by, look for the slapdash food paintings on the windows. Parking is ample but messy, resembling a high-stakes game of Tetris. The long-defunct gas pumps stationed outside of the stripmall storefront sit under a roof, and some people parked there, the noses of their cars pointed east. Then there are adjacent north-south parking spaces, crowded by other east-west painted lines. When my guest and I left, the lot felt like a low-speed obstacle course. We eventually backed out after waiting for a lull in traffic.
We pulled up to the door at 12:55pm and waited until the lights clicked on at 1pm sharp. Once inside the red-hued single room of about 20 tables, we were given the oh-so short rundown of the menu by our kind, prompt server, and she quickly reappeared with our drinks and heaping bowls of charro bean soup ($1.50 a la carte). The piping hot frijoles bobbed in a piquant broth along with ample onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and jalapeños.
Tacos are served either a la carte (1.75) or in a combination ($8), which comes four to an order with onions and cilantro and accompanied by the charro beans. The tortas ($6) –– fresh-tasting buns slathered in mayo and crammed full of avocados, jalapeños, and onions –– were every bit as enormous and filling as our server warned. Both the tacos and tortas overflowed with tender cubes of spice-tinged pastor, the best stuff on Earth. Wash it all down with a cold bottle of Mexican Coke for a moment of pure, authentic Mex-Mex gluttony.
The portions are no joke, too. Though it killed me to do so, I left a few bits of uneaten swine on the plate. I was utterly defeated by food, paralyzed by a serotonin surge that rivaled heroin (or so I’ve heard). Maybe that’s why it was so hard to maneuver the parking lot. I was high on pastor.