Most of the patrons who step into Mami Coco crave the taqueria’s street tacos: warm corn or flour tortillas filled with one of seven seasoned proteins, chopped cilantro, and diced onions. Each order is served in a plastic basket with a small container of medium green salsa and fiery red salsa.
Last year, Yelp ranked Mami Coco No. 10 on a list of the best taco shops in the country. So when we stopped in for lunch in December at the Samuell Boulevard location, which opened in August, I was expecting to try a few of those special tacos.
Mami Coco owner Gustavo De Los Rios instead recommended the flautas, which are listed just below the tacos on the menu. They’re easy to overlook, he admits. The tacos usually take the spotlight.
Flautas are like taquitos, De Los Rios says, but are bigger and rolled with a long, oval-shaped tortilla. They hold more meat than a taquito. They’re fried, crunchy, and topped with fresh veggies and creamy sauces. According to Texas Monthly’s Jose Ralat, flautas are fried rolled tacos— yes, tacos! So De Los Rios is recommending a taco—it’s just not a street taco.
He suggests the flautas to newcomers because they’re his mother’s recipe. De Los Rios came to the U.S. in 1996. When he decided to open Mami Coco, he called his mother for help replicating the flautas he ate growing up. She gave him the recipe over the phone, and he’s been making them ever since.
De Los Rios opened his first Mami Coco at 4501 Bryan Street in East Dallas in 2018. He initially opened to serve everything but tacos, he says, mainly because the first location was across the street from another taco shop. But when customers wanting tacos came and left, De Los Rios decided to add them to the menu.
One order of flautas at Mami Coco includes three fried rolled tacos stuffed with shredded beef or chicken. They’re topped with cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, housemade avocado sauce, and sour cream. The cucumbers and cabbage were deviations from De Los Rios’ mother’s recipe, he says, which typically uses lettuce and has no cucumbers.
“They give them the freshness and crunchiness,” he says.
The flautas are made with thick yellow corn tortillas from La Mexicana Tortilla Factory—De Los Rios says the yellow corn flavor is better when fried. The meat is seasoned with salt, garlic, and other spices and cooked on the stovetop in its juices for at least two hours. Then the meat is shredded, placed into a tortilla, rolled, and fastened with toothpicks before each gets dropped in oil. (Toothpicks are necessary to keep everything together, or they “make a big mess.”)
The dish is served with a fork, but my research shows it isn’t necessary. You can pick up a flauta and use the fork to pick up some of the cabbage, if you want. If you’re talented you can balance the veggies on top of the flute. The result is a crackly, crunchy rolled taco that satisfies to the core.
I ended up not trying the tacos this time around, but I’m not upset. Mami Coco’s full name is Mami Coco Antojitos Mexicanos, which translates to “Mexican cravings.” So whether it be the tacos or the flautas (get the flautas!), you won’t leave disappointed.