Fuel City: The Best Taco in Texas?

"Do you have a favorite taco in Texas?"

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Some four years ago in the December 2006 issue of Texas Monthly, the publication's food editor Patricia Sharpe had the gumption to crown the best taco in Texas.

Along with her five anonymous food writer cohorts on "Team Taco," they scoured the state for three months before declaring a winner. Though time has rendered Sharpe's list of the 63 best Texas tacos almost obsolete (considering restaurant closings and the ebb of chefs and menus), I suspect the list was a foolhardy enterprise from the outset.

Certain omissions are unforgivable—the barbacoa at Gerardo's Drive-In (Houston, opened 1977) and the birria at El Borrego de Oro (Austin, opened 1995)—but everyone will find something to grumble over.

I can't really argue with most of the list, partly because it gets many places right, and mostly because I only relocated to central Texas in early 2009. Maybe the brisket taco at Matt's El Rancho deserved such accolades back then. (Not today.)

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Conceivably the picadillo at the Fuel City gas station taco window in Dallas really was the best taco in Texas four years ago. When I tried that star creation on two occasions in April of this year, it tasted no different than countless other picadillos I've had. Ground beef, seasoned potato, mild red sauce. So what?

Looking back at Sharpe's article, she never really explains why the picadillo tops the other tacos at Fuel City, let alone the proceeding 63 on the list. She backwardly compliments the green chile salsa, calling it "superfluous and irresistible," and praises the "amazingly tender" beef fajita.

But most of the write-up concerns itself with the kooky gas station setting, and the fact of its round-the-clock service. All the excitement seems to have muddied Team Taco's judgment.

When I visited Fuel City in April, and again this past weekend, I found their barbacoa taco to be far and away the best—dripping with its own fatty juices and textured like fine chopped beef, with a sweet, chocolatey aftertaste. The small white-corn tortillas are thin and slightly greasy, soft without breaking apart. The salsas suffice, but Sharpe nailed it in calling them superfluous.

Fuel City's barbacoa does hit the spot, but it still falls short of the aforementioned Gerardo's, among others.

Do you have a favorite taco in Texas? What else did Sharpe and Team Taco miss?

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