Taqueria La Ventana
1611 McKinney Ave
While exploring Downtown Dallas this past Saturday, my brothers and I stumbled across a youthful taqueria located across from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science on McKinney Avenue. Due to my love of tacos and a particular ravenous hunger, we decided to stop in and eat lunch at the outdoor Taqueria La Ventana.
Immediately as I walked onto the quaint patio, which was decorated with strings of Christmas fairy lights, unique hand-painted murals and outdoor benches and tables, the smell of tacos overwhelmed me. Needless to say, I was very excited to dig into some authentic Mexican cuisine.
The wait to order was only about 10 minutes, and the walk up style of the restaurant made it the perfect casual lunch spot for a warm spring day. We went at 6:00, beating the usual dinner crowd, and the majority of the restaurant-goers walked straight from science and art museums nearby. Though the restaurant was hidden behind another Mexican restaurant Meso Maya, owned by the same company, the loud music and colorfully painted walls stood out against the monotony of Downtown Dallas.
While we stood in line, the people mulling around the patio, along with the authentic Mexican decorations scattered around, kept us entertained, and before we knew it, we were at the front of the line and giving our order. Because the restaurant had a walk-up counter, we could peer into the kitchen, which was bustling with hard-working employees whipping up eggs and warming up fresh tortillas. My brothers and I sat down at a colorfully painted orange picnic table, which gave us an amazing view of the busy street and the unique sculptures around the various museums in the area.
While the staff was very limited, I could tell by the waiter humming songs at the counter that they were friendly and enthusiastic about their work. There were no waiters strolling around, checking on our food or refilling our drinks, but the charm of the taqueria was the spontaneous en- vironment that made it seem more like a bustling taco stand in Mexico rather than a restaurant in Dallas.
I decided to go with two tacos: a chick- en taco and a brisket taco. These rolled up delicacies were filled to the brim with meat, which was well seasoned and spicy, and were topped with fresh cilantro, onions and a little, crisp iceberg lettuce. I appreciated the simple nature of the tacos, which came with a delectable side of elote, or Mexican corn topped with melty string cheese and spices. For the quality of our meal and dining experience, the price was very reasonable at $2 per taco.
The menu’s simplicity suits your average taco-lover’s desires. For the veggie lovers, however, there were a few choices, such as the potato breakfast taco, the ‘ensalada fresca’, a vegetable bowl or a simple cheese quesadilla. The lack of vegan options, however, was noticeable as cheese was almost on every dish.
Though I went with the safe choice of chicken and brisket, seven meat choices were also available, including braised beef, marinated pork, shredded pork, shrimp and beef tongue. For breakfast enthusiasts, the egg and cheese breakfast tacos, with options of potato, chorizo or bacon, are also served all day. However, if you aren’t in the mood for tacos, bowls, burritos and quesadillas are also top menu items recommended by the staff.
And although the tacos were of great quality, in my opinion, the dessert churros were the real star of the meal. Warm and full of dulce de leche, I had yet to find such good quality churros in Dallas. The fried, cinnamon sugar-covered dough was crunchy and packed with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon, and the smooth dulce de leche prevented the churros from being too dry. Promptly after finishing their churros, my brothers were already back in line to order more.
Overall, La Ventana provided a fun and quick lunch with delectable food at a trendy location. Though it is out of the way from Preston Hollow and the Hockaday neighborhood, it is an ideal spot if you are in the downtown Dallas area and looking for a quick bite to eat. The tacos were similar to those at popular chain restaurants like Rusty Taco and Torchy’s Tacos, but the hip location and succulent churros will definitely keep me coming back for more.
La Ventana was truly a window into the cuisine and culture of Mexico.
Shea Duffy – Staff Writer