Fuel City's Tacos Are Not Good

Categories: Complaint Desk

fuel-city-taco-vintage.jpg
Fuel City tacos circa 2011.
All week at City of Ate, we celebrate the magic of the taco. Check back for more interviews, essays and maybe a list or two. Or maybe four?

Three or so years ago, when I was driving in a rickety Penske truck with my life's possessions toward Texas, I knew just one thing about Dallas' taco scene. A chef friend back in Washington D.C. told me that the best tacos to be had in Dallas were sold at a place called Fuel City. We were in his kitchen and there was an entire duck with its head still attached simmering away in hot oil. "They serve tacos in gas stations down there," he told me. "No shit," was all I could say in return.

Within a few days of my arrival, I found myself sitting at an outdoor table under the Texas summer sun with the biggest glass bottle of Coke I've ever purchased and a Styrofoam box filled with picadillo and barbacoa tacos. I remember thinking they were pretty good, and that the picadillo was spicy, and that it was pretty great to suddenly live in a state where you could gas up your ride with one hand on the pump while the other cradles a warm tortilla stuffed with meat.

See also: Ten of DFW's Best Taquerias

I don't remember being astounded by the tacos, though, and I know I didn't make it a point to race back to Fuel City the next time a taco craving struck me. I was more than happy to explore other taco destinations, and those picadillo tacos would have been forgettable, except that so many people kept reminding me about them.

So how is it that a chef in Washington D.C. has a bead on killer tacos in Dallas, even though he'd only visited the city once or maybe twice at the time? My guess is Texas Monthly. Not that he'd read the article, but when a big-ass glossy declares a certain taco the greatest of the greatest tacos ever sold, people tend to take notice of such things. They get to talking and they say things like, "We should really go try those Fuel City tacos because I hear they're the greatest ever," and, "Would you believe they serve tacos in gas stations?"

In the time that's passed I've tried a lot of other tacos in Dallas -- tacos made with roasted lamb tucked into tortillas made seconds before, and tacos made with intestines that some desperate soul figured out how to make really, really tasty. I've had tacos made from pig fried in its own fat and tacos stuffed with pungent huiltlacoche. And each time I made it back to Fuel City, those picadillo tacos became a little less impressive.

That Texas Monthly article was written way back in 2006, and even though several awards (including a few by the Observer) have been thrown at the taco stand since, I can say with 100 percent certainty that the tacos served from the takeout window at Fuel City are not the best tacos in sold in Texas. They're not even the best tacos sold in this city. Not even close. In fact, they're not very good.

Most of the articles I've read recently about Fuel City's tacos tout that the window is open 24 hours a day, as if drunks purchasing hangover prevention at 3 a.m. are known for having good taste. Others celebrate the $1.40 price tag, even though a buck and change is the going rate for tacos everywhere. Gas station tacos that cost more should be able to pump your gas while cleaning your windshield and checking your oil for you. And tacos of any sort should taste better than these.

Fuel-City-tacos.jpg
Suck it, lemons.
But Fuel City's tacos can't even entertain your taste buds, let alone tend to your automobile. My most recent picadillo taco was filled with much more potatoes than beef, and a pastor taco was filled with pork as dry as the beef jerky sold inside Fuel City. The tortillas were greasy, with a waxy consistency and almost no flavor.

Maybe nearly a decade ago the best tacos in Texas were served at a gas station in Dallas, but I doubt it, and they certainly aren't any more. So the next time someone suggests you head to Fuel City for anything other than gasoline and beer, counter with one of the taqueria that have sprouted up in the past few years. Taquerias like La Banqueta, or El Come Taco, or oh, hell... We've got a list right here.


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48 comments
dukedude
dukedude

Scott,


For anyone to claim that any food establishment has the "best" taco, hamburger, barbeque or anything else is totally fallacious. So, I agree with you that FC tacos aren't the best tacos in our galaxy because tastes and opinions are subjective.


That being said, who died and made you the local taco expert. You are a pompous, arrogant, self absorbed, self important foodie blogger. Your article is rude, insulting and disingenuous, especially the comment "as if drunks purchasing hangover prevention at 3 am are known for having good taste".  A number of authors with far better writing skills than you posses were also known for their drunken debauchery. 

In short, one is not precluded from having good taste just because one is a drunk.


There are many good tacos to be eaten and enjoyed at many different taquerias.

Shame on you for taking  dump on this one.


holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The Fuel City Taco in that pic is precisely what a traditional taco has always been.  

A snack.  Street food.  Shredded barbacoa with raw onion and cilantro and nothing more. A wedge of lime or limones. Typically within two soft corn tortillas, heated but not cooked hard. Two are needed so it doesn't fall apart.

Any formula that deviates, expounds from, or otherwise alters Mamacita's generational merienda to get a man from desayuno to la cena, es Anglophilian.






Twinwillow
Twinwillow

To all the lovers of real Mexico City style tacos, the old and original La Banqueta on Bryan Street is re-opening next week in a new, cleaner and much larger (yellow) building within spitting distance of the original Bryan Street location just around the corner. It's across the street on Carroll Avenue just south of Bryan. I had a look inside today and saw there are many nice tables and seating flanking the large open kitchen. 

hahajakethesnake
hahajakethesnake

The only people i know that go to fuel city for tacos are white

Idontlivindallas
Idontlivindallas

They stay busy because of the hype. They've added a couple of more windows because of the hype. Can't believe the observer would publish this.

christianmcneil242
christianmcneil242

 The PENIS TACOS are sublime - they take a freshly severed human penis and lightly toast it in a panini press, then drizzle it with olive oil and sperm (i.e. SPOOGE -for the ladies). SO delish. 


Apart from that it's crap.


Spogee

kbd526
kbd526

Their elotes have gone downhill as well.

Mark2023
Mark2023

Their pastor is still the best around. The rest, meh. 

blankcur1
blankcur1

There has been a taco revolution in the last 8 years, the bar has been significantly raised. 

charleshendersonjr
charleshendersonjr

FC was good before they became famous.  Now, it is like eating cardboard with onions and cilantro.  I stopped going.  Not worth the wait at all.  El Si Hay and some others are much better.

The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley
The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley

I want to see someone from COA call Rathbun, Luscher, Shelton, etc, on the carpet for not following Food Snob etiquette and publicly liking FC's Tacos. 

carlwilliams
carlwilliams

oh 'back in D.C.' that makes sense. some of the best tacos are in D.C. Great mexican food all around that area.

standifer_ryan
standifer_ryan

Finally someone speaks the truth about this garbage

carlwilliams
carlwilliams

i love the contrarian reporter that has to make a statement by telling locals he doesnt like the food. Point blank, fuel city kills most local tacos. EL COMe which you love, awful, tacos y mas awful. Are they the best ever? prob not. but thats not the point of tacos. tacos arent worried about a mid 20s reporters taste buds. they just are tacos.

doofUSA
doofUSA

The tacos are just ok, but I did always like how they are served with grilled onions and a jalapeno.

igotamangin4
igotamangin4

They used to be really good back in... 06-08, but now they're just bleh. For me, Taco Mexico in Balch Sprngs has the best tacos.

SampsonBurger
SampsonBurger

Fuel City tacos are good, not great. I respect your opinion Scott, but it is hard to trust a guy who thinks Lemongrass has the best pho. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Fuel City's quality has slipped in the last few years.  I keep checking back to see if the mojo has returned, but it hasn't so far, and the time between trips keeps getting longer.  

basajason
basajason

there are much better tacos in dallas. Just drive through oak cliff and pick a random taco hut, it will be better.

JDLinDallas
JDLinDallas

Totally disagree.  They are very good, although several in the city are just as good.  The picadillo are the bottom of the rung, so bad point of reference.  There are at least half a dozen other gas station taco outlets within a couple miles of there that I've found to be equally worthwhile.

SurlyZ
SurlyZ

I was just telling someone this exact same thing but in fewer, less eloquent words ("Fuel City sucks"). I'm an El Come Taco man. I wish I were there right now.

Greg820
Greg820

I just stopped by there this morning to see what all of the fuss was about (I had not yet read this post).  If you like eggs so overcooked that they turn into granules with a flavorless "chorizo," "bacon," or "sausage" mixed then these are for you.  Even the salsas were a snooze.  WTF?


Not sure why Dallas Chefs are recommending these.  Free gas, maybe?

whizbang63
whizbang63


http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/cityofate/2010/12/dallas_taco_tour_noxious_fumes.php

http://thetacotrail.com/2011/10/17/fuel-city-adds-a-patio-tacos-still-suck/

http://centraltrack.com/Food/2595/Town--City/Are-Dallas-Most-Famous-Gas-Station-Taquerias-All-Theyre-Cracked-Up-To-Be

And of all the articles you read about Fuel City tacos you never ran into one of these that made your point years before you wrote this? Including one in your own publication? Besides the theme, there's another common thread ... the writer.

Oh, and he's got a list, too.

http://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/2013/february/the-best-tacos-in-dallas-01

txcounsel
txcounsel

We've all known this for years.   What's worse is that their elotes -- at least the last time I had one there years ago -- were not shucked to order.  They pretty much tasted like canned corn (which they might have been for all you could tell).  Blasphemy.

sellhersuit
sellhersuit

To each their own. Still think they're awesome.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

Scott, thank you for the truth about Fuel City's tacos. 

username.neil
username.neil

@holmantx  The point is these tacos can be done well or done poorly and these are done poorly so I dont see what you're getting at.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@Twinwillow  


Twinnie, it is AMAZING these people don't know that FC taco's "is" shite.........AMAZING!?  Sir, is everyone here from Detroit? 

christianmcneil242
christianmcneil242

@charleshendersonjr  I agree. I used to love to smear their chipotle mole sauce on my vagina. Now I only do that at El Bantu or Fleiyta. 


I'M SO GASSY ALL THE TIME.

Oxtail
Oxtail

@JDLinDallas  I agree. I never really liked the picadillo. Their chorizo & egg is the best. Then the pastor. Also, that is one badass car wash!

The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley
The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley

@Twinwillow  

LOL, Scott "The Truth on All Things Tacos" Reitz.

The last time I had jury duty, I walked over to FC for lunch, mostly because I didn't want to eat at The Crowley Food Court.  The tacos were solidly okay, not awful but not great either.        

gardencafe
gardencafe

@christianmcneil242 @hahajakethesnake  obvious troll is obvious. I hope you're at least under the age of 13.

carlwilliams
carlwilliams

i have one this guy hates fuel city. we get it.

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