1891 N. Plano Road
Richardson, TX 75081
They take pride in their food at Taqueria El Fuego. They gladly reveal that their tacos are dressed simply with cilantro and onions, that their corn tortillas are hand-made, and that they make all six of their salsas and their pico de gallo fresh every day. There’s nothing particularly fancy about the restaurant itself – it’s clean and colorful, but it’s not very big. They don’t seem to mind that, though. It’s something a little deeper than the facade: it’s that the Manrique family is proud that their food is an authentic representation of their heritage, their original home of Mexico City.
“When my dad came here, he went to all these places that said they were Mexican food, and he was like ‘I’ve never eaten anything like this in Mexico before! And it wasn’t – it was Tex-Mex,” recalls Ayax Manrique, whose parents Aquilas and Marguerita founded Taqueria El Fuego seven years ago. “So eventually he started this restaurant so he could bring the real flavors of Mexico here.”
And it is those flavors of Mexico that permeate this little strip-mall space, from the decor right down to the corn tortillas they make in the restaurant. Marguerita and her sister Norma do all the cooking in the small kitchen behind the register, and Ayax tends the register every day while Aquilas tends to the operations. It is a family-run restaurant in the truest sense of the word, where they all play an indispensible role in bringing the diner the most authentic Mexican cuisine possible, be it tacos, enchiladas, sopas, or any other number of dishes from Mexico.
“Taqueria usually means it’s just a taco joint, but my dad knows a lot of the different regions, so he wanted to be able to give people different things from all over Mexico,” Ayax says. “So people will come in and think that we’re just a taco place, and then see all the things like gorditas, sopas and all that and be a little surprised.”
But it’s the tacos that truly set Taqueria El Fuego apart.
The smaller style of the Mexico City Taco doesn’t prevent Marguerita and Norma from serving ample doses of the seasoned meats on the homemade tortillas, and they’re liberal with their doses of cilantro and onions, the two traditional toppings of Mexico City. The salsa bar provides some truly outstanding options to top it all off, and at $1.75 per taco, a hungry customer can leave happy at around $5.00.
“Tacos can be good without being stuffed with eight fancy different ingredients,” Ayax says. “Of course, we’ll make it how the customer wants it, and if they want sour cream or something like that, we’ll add it, but we try to serve it like you would get it in Mexico City.”
It may seem strange to those who live outside of Dallas to hear that there aren’t a whole lot of Mexican food places around, and with places like Mi Cocina and El Fenix dotting just about every corner, that confusion is understandable. But when it comes to the difference between Mexican and Tex-Mex, Ayax knows the perfect anecdote to illustrate the difference.
“We will have a lot of Latinos that will come in and say ‘This is what my mom used to make,” he says.
And the rest of us should be glad we’ve got someone in town to make it for us.