EL MIL TACOS
Someone once said “Nothing good ever happens at midnight.” That may be true. At 3 AM, you have to have a reason to be out and about. Maybe the club where you were drinking (or working) just closed.
El Mil Tacos in southeast Fort Worth is open until 4 AM weekends, and I’ve always believed that the place offers a valuable community service. Nothing soaks up alcohol like street tacos, tortas, and fresh-from-the-fryer corn chips. I’ll admit, the place doesn’t look like much, but the location just west of La Gran Plaza Mall is definitely an improvement.
Be warned: this is not Tex-Mex. El Mil offers meats with which you’re familiar (pollo is chicken, pastor is pork, and chicharrones are the deliciously crunchy pork skins), and also the waste not, want not meats like my favorite, the buttery lengua (beef tongue), buche (pork stomach) or tripas if you’re brave. The tacos come wrapped in two sturdy palm-sized corn tortillas (ordering flour tortillas marks you as a gringo), and you get fresh chopped onion, cilantro, a couple of lime wedges, and onion strings grilled to sweet caramelization. At all times of the day or night, you see a cross-section of Fort Worth: families with sleepy babies, guys coming off a night shift or on the way to an early shift, and folks needing a little sustenance before going home to sleep.
I’m not much of a night owl these days, but sitting in a high-backed booth with “El Mil” carved into the headpiece brings back some memories. When the place was in the original location, I was writing for a music magazine and when musicians played clubs in town, I’d recommend El Mil as a place that was both kind to a musician’s per diem and open during prime musician hours. One night I got a 3 AM voicemail from a group of very full and happy guys in varying states of sobriety, headed to their next gig. They almost took th walk-up window out trying to turn the bus around in the slightly perilous parking lot, they said — but my late-night tacos recommendation was spot on.
Images Courtesy: Laurie James