The best taco place in Downtown Dallas is connected to two other Mexican restaurants and it’s pretty much in a parking lot– there’s no indoor seating and the sun blasts the entire patio with all the fury of Texas summertime heat every evening.
Yet, there they are: lines of Texans, in suits and jeans, construction uniforms and dresses, waiting in a line that crawls at the pace of cool honey. This place should not work. But despite everything, it does.
Taqueria La Ventana makes damn good tacos and decent margs and that’s partially why, despite everything, this little taco joint is the best in downtown Dallas. Their street-style tacos are exactly what a street-taco should be: simple. There’s no special twist. You won’t find your taco piled high with a bunch of ingredients that make you stop and wonder “should this be on a taco?” La Ventana perfected the building blocks of a good taco and they’re sticking to it. Homemade tortillas. Good meat. Fresh onion and cilantro.
The margs are also simple. There are two options: frozen or on the rocks. That’s it. No need to wade through a margarita list so long you’re no longer sure if the described drinks are margaritas or the bartender’s attempt to no longer make margaritas.
And it’s cheap.
For $15 you can buy: 2 tacos, 1 order of chips and queso and 1 margarita. Yes. You read that right. I know you don’t believe me. I know because we’ve all spent $10 on a margarita and $15 on an appetizer at some hip little spot. And the kicker is the margarita and app weren’t even that good.
You do have to sit in the Texas heat. But the outdoor decor choices at La Ventan will somewhat distracted you from the sweat crawling down your back. There’s an old toilet with potted plants growing in it. There’s a fake parrot. There are tables and chairs that refuse to sit evenly on the gravel. There’s a game with a ring, a hook, and a string that looks simple but is infuriatingly difficult. And, did they just call the Spanish name they gave you yet to indicate your order is up?
Some tips for when you go (because I know you will.)
- Order tacos. You can order other things too, but make sure to try at least one taco.
- If you go in the evening, expect to wait in a long slow line and expect to sweat. It’s part of the experience. Don’t grumble.
- Try the sauces in the squeeze bottles. The bottles are usually on a table beneath the pickup window.
- Eat your tacos right away, none of this waiting for your friends politeness. This isn’t to be rude to friends (although go for it, take them down a notch,) it’s because the open-face tacos lose their heat quickly and they’re best when they’re piping hot.
- Take your out-of-town friends. They’ll love the “authenticity.” I don’t know if La Ventana is authentically anything though– other than good food in Downtown Dallas.