We all try to maximize our restaurant experiences by choosing the right destination and ordering the best possible dish. Sometimes, those choices are already made. When a dish is highlighted on the marquee—as is the case at Tacos El Rodeo, where the words Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo are more prominent than the restaurant’s name—there’s hardly a need to look at the menu.
While our English word barbecue is derived from barbacoa, the two styles of cooking couldn’t be more dissimilar. Good barbecue is rife with smokiness, while traditional barbacoa is more like a pig roast, with the meat cooking while nestled against hot rocks in a pit. That’s exactly how they’re preparing the lamb at Tacos El Rodeo.
Buy it by the pound ($17.25)—or actually by the half-pound, since that amount of lamb barbacoa will satiate any mere mortal—accompanied by piping-hot handmade tortillas. The tacos you assemble need no more garnish than a sprinkling of diced onion and chopped cilantro from the salsa bar. Fatty without being chewy, the shredded meat shows hints of cumin and cinnamon in each bite.
Don’t overlook the consommé ($3.50) to complete the experience. Chickpeas and rice accent an incredibly rich and complex lamb-based broth. While it’s intended for dipping your tacos, I think it succeeds as a meal unto itself. Consommé in the style of Hidalgo, anyone?
Tacos El Rodeo 2115 N. Decatur Blvd., 702-638-1100. Daily, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.