Best Taquerias in Denton: Tortilleria La Sabrocita
Cruising on Dallas Drive, heading to the square, many of us have probably caught a glance at a bright yellow taqueria/tortilleria right before taking that dangerous curve under the bridge. If you are going into Denton, an easy right turn takes you into the parking lot of Tortilleria La Sabrocita (otherwise, be prepared for that fun left turn). The building itself, fondly known as "The Yellow House", though colorful and lively with the cartoon elote on the side, does not immediately pull you in. In fact, navigating the parking lot can be a little stressful. To be blunt: it doesn’t look like much. It matches the area, industrial and weathered by age.
The inside may not seem like much either: four tables and four booths, a little rough around the edges. Through the entrance, hanging left, a line of people crowd near the register and ramp, some waiting for their order and others waiting to place it. Due to the size limitations of the building, you might feel a little cramped. It’s noisy, with the sounds of tortillas being rolled, the sizzle of meat, and music playing over the chit-chat of hungry customers. For what it lacks in comfortable furniture or aesthetics, it makes up with its food, service, and affordability.
Sabrocita’s menu has a variety of plates that emphasize its wide selection of meats: chicken, fajita beef, lamb, lengua, cachete, pork, and more, combined with their freshly made tortillas and chips. Their menu teeters the line of authentic but familiar. Items like horchata and tamales can be found near the breakfast taco menu by the cash register. For the rainbow of protein Sabrocita’s offers, seafood does not seem to be as prominent. Vegetarians can enjoy tasty nopalitos, but the menu itself does not showcase many other vegetarian-friendly options.
The staff is nice and will explain dishes to you and provide good recommendations. When it is less busy, they will check in and bus your tables. If you dine-in, someone will bring your food, and if you take-out, they call your number at the front. Drinks can be bought by the bottle or can, but a soda fountain is there for self-service. The service style is focused more on speed and delivery, and less on traditional table service: a style that fits the demand.
For the quality and quantity of meat, sides, toppings, and salsa, the prices are great. Most of the options are between five and ten dollars, so buying a bunch of food is dangerously tempting. If you need a place with late hours and you are on a budget until payday, their value fits your need.
Food Quality and Taste
The items tasted for this review included: nopalitos, costilla de puerco en salsa, chips and salsa, as well as a variety of tacos on flour and corn tortillas, such as: barbacoa, cachete, pastor, lamb, chicharron, chicken, and fajita beef. Nopalitos was better than expected; a cross between a pickled bell pepper with a hint of salted green beans combined with onions, peppers, and topped with queso fresco. If you want to step out of your comfort zone, but experimenting with protein makes you nervous, this is a good baby step. Pro-tip: throw the nopalitos into a warm tortilla and top with a bit of salsa verde for a vegetarian friendly taco.
Costilla de puerco en salsa, dubbed by Sandra Mejia - whose family owns the taqueria/tortilleria - as their signature dish, is a pastor in red salsa dish. The chunks of meat are moderately spicy and require you to dive in, and like classic ribs, they are best when messy. Also like classic ribs, the bone-to-meat ratio won’t fully satisfy your appetite alone, so getting a side of rice and beans or something more carb-heavy would be a good idea. The chips have a harder texture that works well, fried and lightly greased, balancing a salty and fatty flavor with a range of salsas from mildly spicy for sensitive palates to ‘better than benadryl for my sinuses' hot.
In a subjective hierarchy of taco goodness, and to quote misquote Drake, let’s start from the bottom. If texture is a deal breaker, and you are inexperienced with Mexican meat usage, then the chicharron taco is not for you. A hint of slimy and the consistency of lima beans, this may not be a good pick for your first rodeo at Taco Tuesday. There were a few tacos that were good and will satisfy your craving, but they aren't the breadwinners of the selection, mainly fajita beef, barbacoa, and chicken (which is a lot juicier than it looks). Climbing the proverbial flavor ladder, the next step would be lamb and pastor. They are both good for different reasons: the lamb presented a mild, earthy taste under its gamy texture, while the pastor looked like something you would find at a BBQ which held a distinctive spicy aftertaste often found in Mexican food. At the top of the pyramid, with Maslow’s self-actualization and the USDA’s oils and sweets, is the cachete tacos. Word to the wise, this taco does have a greasy streak, not in the way your Jack in the Box tacos are greasy, but in a way that seems fitting and like eating a guilty pleasure.
It should be noted that Tortilleria La Sabrocita is not solely a Denton taqueria, as they have locations in Dallas, Carrollton, and now Austin. With that being said, it is one of the most popular taquerias in Denton and has the committed late-night and weekend following to prove it. There is a difference between a corporate chain of taquerias and a successful, family-owned taqueria with multiple locations, and for this reason, I consider Tortilleria La Sabrocita a member of Denton’s taqueria scene.
For tortilla preferences, follow your heart and your stomach. Corn is the classic way to eat tacos, and for a good reason, but the flour tortillas are good for heavier proteins and absorbing those salsa and flavor. Whether you are craving tacos after the bars close at 2 a.m., or if you hate cooking at home, but are stretched thin on cash, Sabrocita is a good choice. Be cautious of the parking lot and ready to wait during a lunch or dinner rush: consider taking your food to-go. Otherwise, enjoy your food Denton!
Photos by Garrett Smith.
Header design by Tori Falcon.