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2019-6-14 | Chevy New Roads Magazine

Dallas’ Secret Taco Trail

Deep in the heart of Texas, road trips large and small are fueled by tacos.

Texas does everything big, including interstates. First-time visitors to Dallas might be surprised by the sheer volume of highways that support the metropolis. Tons of  concrete and steel have been molded into buttressed bridges and flyovers, with circles  of roadway starting in a tight coil around the city center and spreading outward onto the Texas plain. Dallas is a city for drivers.

 

It’s a natural extension, then, that a place like Fuel City can exist. Nestled within on-ramps and off-ramps between downtown and the Trinity River, the gas station fulfills  every expectation of Texas. Fuel City is massive: row upon row of pumps for gasoline,  diesel, and even compressed natural gas; a sprawling three-lane car wash; a working  ranch with actual livestock; statuary; giant balloons; and a wash of neon that wouldn’t  be out of place in Vegas. Oh, and there’s a swimming pool with a velociraptor as a  lifeguard—why not, right?

 

With all of that, this epicenter of fill-ups and glorious kitsch is still best known for  something entirely different: tacos. For years, the establishment has been serving  street-style meals from a taqueria built into the corner of the building. But as unique as Fuel City may be, its taco stand is far from an anomaly. If you’ve spent any time in  Dallas, you know that plenty of gas stations will serve you a box of tacos with your tank  of go-juice. For a city of commuters, it just makes sense. These gas station taquerias  can even elevate the humble snack to unexpected heights.

 

Following the advice of taco aficionado José R. Ralat, creator of the food blog The Taco  Trail, and with the nimble Chevrolet Trax compact SUV as our vehicle of choice, we set  out on a road trip through this impressive Texas city that became an exercise in  surprise, delight, and flavor.

The Details Matter

48.4 CU. FT.

CARGO SPACE

31

MPG HIGHWAY

138

HORSEPOWER

 

A highway to heavenly fare

Hitting the road in a Trax can be fun by itself, but it gets better when your destination involves some of the tastiest tacos in Texas. Whether you like barbacoa or al pastor, corn or flour, onions or cilantro, the Trax is as versatile as you are.

Fuel City

801 South Riverfront Boulevard, Dallas | Award: Best Overall Experience  

Fuel City has been in the gas station taco game for as long as most Dallasites can remember, offering up cash-only grub 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With a huge parking lot serving a grocery store–sized facility, the station and taqueria serve as a meeting point for groups of all kinds. You might stop off in the morning for a couple of tacos and a few gallons of gas, or swing by on a Sunday afternoon for the inevitable—and impressive—impromptu car show. Fuel City is a scene at any hour and an essential stop on a visit to Dallas.

 

Whatever time you go, the lightning-quick staff is on hand to serve, and the pulled chicken tacos, classically served with cilantro and onion, are a good option for first-timers.

 

While you’re waiting for your taco order and watching the inevitable parade of characters that seem to frequent this place, grab a side of elote, a classic Mexican snack. Street vendors serve up this delicious bowl of roasted corn coated in salt, chili powder, butter, lime juice, and crema fresca, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to a plate of Fuel City’s tacos.

No Name Taqueria

101 Industrial Boulevard, McKinney | Award: Best Meat-Free Options

Pointing the Trax north, we took a comfortable 32-mile highway cruise out of Dallas to find this unnamed establishment on the corner of Industrial Boulevard and South McDonald Street in the quaint exurb of McKinney.

 

What this taqueria may lack in name it more than makes up for with its food. The deli-style counter shows off the day’s available taco fillings, ranging from the de facto (yet well-executed) barbacoa and carnitas to the truly remarkable borrego (lamb). Somewhat of an outlier, the restaurant also offers meat-free options like nopales (cactus) tacos and papitas tacos, with cubes of potato that are crisp, pleasantly salty, and generally a cut above the watery fare found in other places. Don’t expect the same options every day,  but do come hungry, and with a sense of adventure.

 

While you’re out here, check out the downtown McKinney area. After a good meal, you should have all the energy you need to make the most of the boutiques, antique stores, and cool public spaces of this little Texas town.

Taco Tip: Order Like a Local

Here’s how to order gas station tacos and not look like a tourist.

Know where to pay:  

Spot the cash register. Many of these taquerias require you to pay at the gas station counter and order at the taco counter. Don’t forget your receipt, which generally serves as the order ticket for the cook.  

About that receipt:  

It doesn’t explicitly state your order. In most cases that slip of paper just indicates you’ve paid, but you’ll still need to tell the cook which delicious tacos you’re after.

Choose your grain:  

It’s not a taco without the tortilla, and while corn may be the default option for this street-style food, you can opt for softer flour tortillas if you prefer. If they don’t ask, you should.  

Everything is to go:  

Remember, you’re at a gas station. Your tacos will most likely be delivered in a disposable box or on a paper plate. If you’re fussy about what your food is served on, you might want to look for a different kind of joint.

Bachman Lake Tacos  

3311 West Northwest Highway, Dallas | Award: Best Spice

You simply can’t miss this place in northwest Dallas, near Bachman Lake Park—the searingly yellow building trumpeting traditional Mexican street tacos is easily spotted, even in the haze of the morning commute. In this busy parking lot, the handy size of the compact Trax proved its worth. The right-sized crossover helped us negotiate the crowded spaces, letting us limber up our taste buds for some spicy pork.

 

Experts may disagree whether there is a difference between the Mexico City street tacos de trompo that Bachman colorfully advertises and the also-delicious al pastor, but the results are indisputable: you’ll want to put Bachman’s taco in your face. The attractive hunks of spiced pork have well-developed depth of flavor, an edge of char, and some heat on the finish. Don’t leave the slices of onion at the bottom of your box. Along with a really creamy jalapeño salsa, they’re perfect accompaniments to the pork.

 

Between the excellent eats and the cheery taco murals inside the building—this Bachman location is somewhat of an outlier in that it has a nice little indoor seating area—there’s no question this should be a destination on your next trans-Dallas drive.


Fun Facts

  • Americans love tacos so much that we have a national day of recognition: October 4th, National Taco Day.
  • Today you can find taco trucks all over the country, but New York claims the first one in the U.S., in 1966.

El Tacaso 

10025 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas | Award: Best Breakfast Tacos

We mainly munched dinner tacos, but it wouldn’t be a taco tour of Dallas without some breakfast. So one morning we hopped into the Trax’s roomy front seats and headed to El Tacaso. It’s open 24 hours a day, but with egg-based tacos featuring excellently executed bacon, ham, chorizo, or potatoes, dropping by early is a good call (the locals do).

 

Heading back for dinner isn’t a bad idea, either. “El Tacaso’s breakfast tacos are delightful,” José Ralat says, “but the barbacoa has the deep, rich, long-​simmering flavor that comes from a kitchen that does not cheat or cut corners. It sticks to your taste buds and memory for hours.” El Tacaso’s staff are as charming as its food, making this place a prime target for serial taco eaters.

 

The fact is, Dallas is littered with gas station–based taquerias; we ate a selection of really exceptional examples of this genre of restaurant, but part of the fun is finding your own “secret spot.” With tacos, as with all kinds of adventures, the hunt is a huge part of the fun. Get out there, and don’t forget your appetite.

 

 STORY: SEYTH MIERSMA / PHOTOGRAPHY: JODY HORTON

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  • EPA estimated with 3.6L V6 engine.

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  • With rear seats folded. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • EPA-estimated 238-mile EV range. Your actual range may vary based on several factors including temperature, terrain, and driving technique.

  • With second row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • EPA-estimated 238-mile EV range. Your actual range may vary based on several factors including temperature, terrain, and conditions.

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  • Read your vehicle owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • EPA-estimated 53-mile range based on 106 MPGe combined city/highway (electric); 367-mile extended range based on 42 MPG combined city/highway (gas). Your actual range may vary based on several factors, including temperature, terrain and driving technique.

  • EPA-estimated 1.5L engine 29 MPG city/36 highway.

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  • Available late 2018.

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  • Requires available Performance Exhaust or Z51 Performance Package.

  • Requires available Performance Exhaust or Z51 Performance Package.

  • If you decide to continue service after your trial, your selected subscription plan will automatically renew thereafter. You will be charged at then-current rates. Fees and taxes apply. To cancel you must call SiriusXM at 1-866-635-2349. See SiriusXM Customer Agreement for complete terms at siriusxm.com. All fees and programming subject to change. ©2018 Sirius XM Radio Inc. All rights reserved.

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  • EPA-estimated 28 City/39 Hwy MPG

  • With second row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

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  • Premier shown seats seven. Standard on L, LS. Available on LT.

  • EPA-estimated 18 MPG city/ 27 MPG highway 3.6FWD.

  • With second and third row seats folded flat. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • EPA-estimated with available 3.6L engine (FWD).

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  • EPA-estimated 22 city/27 highway MPG for 2.5L FWD engine and 20 city/26 highway for 3.6L FWD engine.

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  • With available Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8.

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  • EPA-estimated 15 MPG city/ 20 MPG highway.

  • Requires short box. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

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  • EPA-estimated 15 city/20 highway for 4x4 with 4.3L V6.

  • Requires Long Box. Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and distribution.

  • 910 lb.-ft. @ 1600 rpm with available Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8.

  • With available Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8.

  • With available Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8.

  • Read the vehicles Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See your vehicle Owner’s Manual for more information.

  • Connected services include navigation services and Remote Access Plan. Services subject to Terms and limitations. Certain services require working electrical system, cell reception, and GPS signal. OnStar links to emergency services.  See onstar.com for details. Availability subject to change.

  • Connected services include navigation services and Remote Access Plan. Services subject to Terms and limitations. Certain services require working electrical system, cell reception, and GPS signal. OnStar links to emergency services.  See onstar.com for details. Availability subject to change.

  • EPA-estimated MPG city/highway: Sonic Sedan with 6-speed manual transmission 27/38; with 6-speed automatic transmission 26/34; Sonic Hatchback with 6-speed manual transmission 26/35; with 6-speed automatic transmission 26/34.

  • Your actual range may vary based on several factors, including temperature, terrain, battery age, and how you use and maintain your vehicle.

  • Read your vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

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  • Premier shown seats seven. Standard on L, LS. Available on LT.

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  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Always use seat belts and child restraints.  Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint.  See the Owner's Manual for more information.

  • Read the vehicles Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

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  • On LS models with available front-row split-bench seat.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Read the Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity to some devices.

  • Read the Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Read the Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

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  • Requires AWD and 3.6L engine. Before you buy a vehicle or use it for trailering, carefully review the Trailering section of the Owner’s Manual. The weight of passengers, cargo and options or accessories may reduce the amount you can tow.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for more important feature limitations and information.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Standard on Extended Cab and 2WD Crew Cab Short Box models.

  • Standard on 2WD Crew Cab Long Box and 4WD Crew Cab models.

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  • The system wirelessly charges one compatible mobile device. Some phones have built-in wireless charging technology and others require a special adaptor/back cover. To check for phone or other device compatibility, see my.chevrolet.com/learn or consult your carrier.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

     

  •  

    Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • To avoid the risk of injury, never use Recovery Hooks to tow a vehicle. For more information, see the Recovery Hooks section of your Owner's Manual.

  • The system wirelessly charges one compatible mobile device. Some phones have built-in wireless charging technology and others require a special adaptor/back cover. To check for phone or other device compatibility, see my.chevrolet.com/learn or consult your carrier.

  • Chevrolet Infotainment System functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices.

  • Go to my.chevrolet.com/learnAbout/bluetooth to find out which phones are compatible with the vehicle. Full Bluetooth feature functionality varies by device, model and software version.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and Apple Music are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android™ 5.0 or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

  • Read the vehicle Owner’s Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Always use safety belts and child restraints. Children are safer when properly secured in a rear seat in the appropriate child restraint. See the Owner’s Manual for more information.  

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Google and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires the Android Auto app on Google Play and an Android compatible smartphone running Android 5.0 or higher. Data plan rates apply. Android Auto is a trademark of Google LLC.

  • Vehicle user interface is a product of Apple and its terms and privacy statements apply. Requires compatible iPhone and data plan rates apply. Apple CarPlay is a trademark of Apple Inc. Siri, iPhone and Apple Music are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

  • Read the vehicle Owner's Manual for important feature limitations and information.

  • Standard on Extended Cab and 2WD Crew Cab Short Box models.

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  • Available on Extended Cab models.

  • Available on Crew Cab models.

  • The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price excludes destination freight charge, tax, title, license, dealer fees and optional equipment. Click here to see all Chevrolet vehicles' destination freight charges.

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