Escape to Tortaco
Tortaco – 4 Stars
Smiling and holding a half empty bottle Alejandro said, “There is an old saying in Mexico.” Handing over a slip of paper it read, “For all that’s wrong mezcal, and for all that is right as well.” Taking in another drink of my tonic, I quickly realized this saying was likely doctrine.
Appearing more like a cozy ravenous dungeon than a restaurant, Tortaco is an escape from the “norm” when it comes to Mexican style cuisine in Dallas. Their menu does not boast margaritas, enchiladas and the Tex-Mex must, queso. Instead, you’ll find an assortment of delicious soft flour tortilla tacos, tortas, bowls and a creamy roasted crab dip that summons you into submission. In lieu of tequila, its close cousin mezcal is running the show by the sip, by the shot and in cocktails. “We have 30 different mezcals in house. Every single mezcal is different,” explained Alejandro Perez, manager at Tortaco. Drinking mezcal straight is not, I repeat is NOT for the faint. However, if you are feeling froggy Tortaco serves all of their mezcals with a side of pureed tomato juice in lime and chili pepper rimmed glasses, a nice chaser to the smoky flavored alcohol.
For those that fear the mezcal might chase you back, I suggest leaning towards their mixed drinks. Earthy, the Floyd has a base of espadin mezcal joven and gin, it features muddled roasted red bell peppers with fresh squeezed lime juice and simple syrup. The Dirty Sanchez is made similarly, but replaces the earthiness of the bell pepper with the sweetness of oven roasted pineapple and a brûléed pineapple garnish. Old Fashioned lovers may get a kick out of the Flux which dumps the whiskey in favor of mezcal reposado. A smoldering and welcomed switch to the classic cocktail.
We’ve already established the need for the roasted crab dip, but another necessity that must be met when visiting is the Truffle Steak. Whether you decide to enjoy it as a torta, taco or even the bowl, you won’t be disappointed. The black truffle aioli calls out to your senses the moment it’s tossed in the pan and doused over mounds of seared beef tenderloin, melty Vermont white cheddar, caramelized onions, and cremini mushrooms. The wild baby arugula and tomatoes are bonuses.
Never thought that pickles and tortillas of any sort should be together. But, the burnt ends taco changed all of that. Stuffed with house-smoked brisket, sweet onions, roasted jalapenos, white sharp cheddar, avocado, sweet and tangy sauce, and yes PICKLES, it makes me feel like I’m eating a great burger. Flavorful though not distinct, the Diablo Shrimp Bowl is a comradery of garlic, bell peppers and jasmine rice in a lightly spiced broth. Feel free to skip it. Instead, answer the call of your sweet tooth with the Creamy Date Dessert, a richly soft date cake topped with thick, rich mascarpone that oozes like ice cream, with pecans and caramel sauce.
Easy on the pocketbook, interesting atmosphere, great service and good food, you’ll want to visit Tortaco. Even if you only come to sip the doctrine, mezcal. TxmB
Where to find them- 2100 Ross Ave #100, Dallas, TX 75201
Phone (469) 998-7342
That whole parking thing- This is Downtown Dallas/Arts District area, so try and find a garage, or meter.