Restaurant Review: El Tizoncito in Oak Cliff

Andrew Chalk takes a quick look at at El Tizoncito, a tacquerias in Oak Cliff.

A friend who lives in Oak Cliff who considers himself a monitor of its culinary landscape persuaded me to try this taco place. El Tizoncito sits at the corner of Westmoreland and Illinois next to a branch of Bank of America in a strip mall dominated by a large Fiesta supermarket. There are tacquerias on just about every block in this area which almost makes it incumbent on each one to recite why it is different. El Tizoncito isn’t unique (or, in the language of Food Network Happy Hosts, “very unique”) but it does what it does very well. They present solid Mexican favorites centered around pork from the vertical spit (trompo) that stands open, behind the counter, as a monument rather than merely a piece of kitchen equipment. The following is my first impression.

Jump for food and pictures galore!

In front of the spit is a semi-circular counter where patrons can get a free show while they eat.

The walls are painted museum flat in trendy ochre and flame red, giving the place a sensibility to style that makes it seem more ‘corporate’ than its family origins attest. Maybe a franchise in the future? I could taste the kick of the tequila in this coming through the taste of the tamarind fruit. By contrast, in the House Margarita ($5) I could not taste any house at all.

At late Saturday lunch the place was hopping. We had to wait for a table so we passed the time with an amuse-gueule of Tamarind Margarita ($5).

While we waited I did a quick census. Other than us four white guys there was another young white couple and that was it. Everyone else was Hispanic. That didn’t just vouch for the place it also meant that I could have a spirited discussion about the upcoming FIFA World Cup with just about any of the guys there.

Instead of chips and salsa El Tizancito offers small bowls of Frijoles Charros, (black bean soup seasoned with epazote herb) also available as an à la carte soup for $3, I wish more Mexican and Tex-Mex establishments would do this. The earthiness of the beans and the fragrance of the herb did exactly their job of stimulating the appetite.

For ‘botanas’ (appetizers) we started with Chicharrón de Queso ($5).

This ‘pigskin of cheese’ is essentially grated cheese baked on a flat surface (e.g. a skillet) until browned. It becomes one hot and malleable mass and can be molded into different shapes for service if you like. The one above appears to think that it is a cuttlefish. Needless to say, it is delicious either on its own, or with salsa. A Lazy Susan of salsas is provided at the table when you sit down.

Our other botana was Rajas con Queso ($4).

That was sautéed poblano pepper, onions, cream and melted cheese on flour tortillas. The sweetness of the onions and cream make it easy to eat a lot of this. The bold flavor of the poblano was needed as El Tizoncita’s tortillas (other than those used for tacos) are thicker and more intense than those in most places.

We moved on, lest we die of malnutrition, to Tacos Pastor ($1.50). Two corn tortillas were filled with pork cooked on that spit and layered with the house’s adobo. Also, Tacos Chuleta ($1.50). Pork chops.

Tacos Bistec ($1.50).
Alambre Pastor con Queso.

The next section was

Flautas Pollo con papas.

Alambres, described as “Our Kabob replica without the skewer…”. Each had 4 corn tortillas, poblano chiles, onion and bacon. We had the Alambre Pastor con Queso ($6) and the Alambre Chuleta con Queso ($7).

I found that I needed to season the meat a little more but that is a personal preference.

Finally, we checked out the Flautas Pollo con Papa ($6.50).Four flautas were filled with potato and chicken, then covered with shredded lettuce, cream, queso fresca and slices of avocado. A great combination as the creaminess of the cheese moistened the dry, crisp deep-fried tortilla.

A small list of deserts (2!) wasn’t tried as we were concerned about whether we would be able to get out through the door. The choices were flan and Pastel de Tres Leches (each $3).

Like a lot of Mexican restaurants, El Tizoncito offers Aguas Frescas (fruit drinks) in a variety of flavors. One of my colleagues had Agua Jamaica ($2) a hibiscus flavored drink. He reported that not only was it something that he will order again and again but the rejuvenating properties of hibiscus are for real. He was 70 years old when he walked in and we estimate that if he drinks one Agua Jamaica a day from now until 2017 he will either be able to re-celebrate his 18th birthday or he will have drowned in the process.

Service was friendly and welcoming throughout. The staff were especially patient in explaining their house preparations to our lower than average IQed group. With El Tizoncito well established, owner Leo Spencer is now looking at a Spanish themed restaurant with an emphasis on Iberian Spanish rather than Latin American Spanish in a different location in Dallas. In the meantime, check this one out.

I paid my own way and went anonymously.

Comments

  • Gastronome

    Congratulations to Leo – yet another alumnae of the MCrowd Restaurant Group.

  • Michael

    As one of the “gang of four” Andrew mentioned, I can certainly attest to Andrew’s review of the sensational food we were all served. And, thanks to drinking two “jamaicas” (the “j” is pronounced as “h”) I am definitely a year younger, now.
    Since our first visit, I’ve been back twice. It seems I’m now addicted to the Alhambre Pastor con Queso and the “chiccharone” de Queso.
    Great place. I’m almost sorry to have y’all know about it because they’re pretty busy now as it is.

  • LJT

    I love the little accoutrement caddy with the fresh cilantro, onions, salsas and chopped pineapple (which compliments the pork beautifully!)

  • John M

    Any chance of one of you making it down to the “Rock N Taco” place you mentioned awhile back. I feel slightly intrigued yet a little off put by the concept. It seems like they are shooting the the 30k millionaire demographic but if they have good tacos it seems like a decent place to catch lunch and a drink with a friend.

  • Stephen

    We’ve visited El Tizoncito a couple of times and had a few service glitches, but I did enjoy the food. They were extremely busy both times, both mid-afternoon on weekends. The first time, we had long delays and they never delivered the requested chicharron de queso, but they more than made up for it by comping the entire meal without us even asking. We’ll be back, but need to figure out when is their “slow time” to do it!

  • Michael

    Heh, heh. I don’t think they have a “slow time”.

    It seems, Leon (the owner) is usually not there on weekends. When we were all there with Andrew, it was a Monday at lunchtime. They were plenty busy but, when he saw us 4 gringos, he made sure to help us thru the menu and the service was excellent!

    The last two times I was there were on weekends and he wasn’t there. So, service was a bit slow because I think there is only one girl there that actually speaks English. But, she was very helpful and there were no problems and the food was terrific as usual.