The chile relleno is a staple at many Mexican restaurants across the state. Stuffed with cheese or a meat mixture, likely battered and fried, the pepper, usually a fat poblano or Anaheim, makes for a hearty entrée wedged against rice and beans. The chile relleno also makes for a mighty fine taco.
Part of the tacos de guisado family, a category defined by homey, often slow-cooked dishes eaten in the morning and for lunch in Mexico, tacos de chile relleno are rare in Texas. That might be changing, thanks to a handful of taquerias like Del Sur Tacos in Dallas’s Oak Cliff neighborhood.
“I wanted to eat tacos de chile relleno, and so I started making them,” explains co-owner Ismael Sanchez, who along with his wife, Olmi, opened the Oak Cliff spot in July. It’s their second taqueria; the first opened five years ago in McKinney. “That’s how I am with all the food here. I make the recipes I want and take care of the kitchen.” Ismael, a native of Michoacán, Mexico, is a soft-spoken man whose sentences are as much said in English as in Spanish. His wife, however, is gregarious, eager to make customers feel at home by walking them through the menu of typical tacos, like al pastor, house-made chorizo, and knock-out carnitas cooked in a traditional Michoacán-style copper cazo, and Del Sur’s series of stellar signature tacos. The latter include the Sanchez, a grilled angus steak topped with guacamole and a prickly Serrano salsa.
But it’s the chile relleno—a poblano filled with milky queso Oaxaca that’s just on this side of melting—that keeps me coming back. The taco, which until recently was a Friday-only special, is available as a combo platter of two tacos with rice and beans, changes a little each time. Sometimes, the taco is finished with a thin lace of white Mexican crema. Other times, its presented with fans of red onions and a sneaky salsa of smoky Morita chiles and tomatoes. That being said, the taco, like every Del Sur taco, is always served in tortillas made from nixtamalized corn. They’re deep yellow and leave my fingers smelling of corn for hours—like the best tacos should.