Jimmy Contreras is unabashed in his love of Taco Bell’s Double Decker Taco. Since 1995, the chain has been selling a hard-shell beef taco wrapped in a soft tortilla, with a layer of refried beans in between—and the contrasting textures always hit the spot. “I’ve always loved that taco,” says Contreras, a McAllen native and the operating partner of Taco y Vino in Dallas’s Bishop Arts District. “It was something that as a kid … I’d go to Taco Bell and it was my standard.” Later on, it sustained him through long shifts at work. “Every Mexican restaurant I worked at I made a version of the double-decker. When I worked at On the Border when I was in college, I would put their sautéed veggie mix inside a shell. Then I’d put refried beans on that and use a flour tortilla. I’d eat that for lunch. It’s also something we did on the [kitchen] line too.”

Contreras, whose restaurant pairs creative takes on traditional tacos with an affordable array of wines and wine-based drinks, has a version of the double-decker at Taco y Vino, of course. The DDT, as it’s listed on the menu, is an assembly of juicy, slightly salty ground beef in a snappy freshly fried hard shell with a smear of refried black beans. The filling adheres nicely to a flour tortilla wrapping that’s topped with a brushing of Mexican crema and a sprinkle of queso fresco. It’s got textures aplenty, and it’s been on the menu a lot longer than diners might realize: since October 2018, when the item was added as a brunch-only option. When Taco y Vino reopened its outdoor patio in May, the double-decker taco joined the permanent menu. The DDT can be ordered solo or as part of a $10 trio. However you eat it, it’s arguably the best double-decker taco in Texas.

With fresh, elevated ingredients but a relatively simple composition, this taco is spiffy but not all that spiffy. In that way, it resembles the relaxed, inviting vibe Contreras has always created. That atmosphere is beautifully replicated in Taco y Vino’s masked-mandated, limited-capacity outdoor seating, with socially distanced, shaded, and cooled tables wrapping around the renovated little white house the restaurant occupies. There’s nothing fussy about Taco y Vino—just like there’s nothing fussy about Contreras, a towering, stocky man with a disarming smile and an extroverted personality well suited for a life in the hospitality industry. (He was a wine supplier and restaurant vet before jumping into the taqueria–wine bar game.)

You might think the DDT’s crunchy shell is a fancy artisanal creation, but you’d be wrong. “It’s a Mission-brand tortilla. I found it’s the one with the best structural integrity,” Contreras says. Indeed, the fried corn tortilla doesn’t fall apart. It’s got all the support it needs with the beans and flour tortilla. The latter is sourced from Sonoran-style specialist Tortilleria La Norteña, a neighborhood staple.

So at a tacos-and-wine joint, what do you pair with this double-decker taco? Contreras recommends a hearty rosé from Provence. It cuts the salinity of the taco meat and cheese and helps drive down temperatures during summer’s hottest days. The fans and misters on the patio are nice too. That said, if you’re not comfortable dining onsite, don’t. Keep your anxiety down. But be sure to have a good—dare we say, meaty—rosé at home when you order takeout.

Taco y Vino
213 West Eighth, Dallas
Phone: 469-372-0022
Hours: Monday to Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; brunch Saturday and Monday, noon to 3 p.m.