The story behind Tacos Y Mas Mexican Grill is literally written on the wall of its recently opened Keller location.
The short version: Tacos Y Mas opened in Dallas in 1997 as a tent with a portable grill in a grocery-store parking lot. It expanded to a second location (in a carwash parking lot) later that year. Its menu kept growing, and in January 2011 it began opening fast-casual locations in Dallas-Fort Worth. It's up to four now, with the Keller shop being the first in Tarrant County.
It remains unpretentious -- the Keller storefront is in a strip mall anchored by a Big Lots store, and it's so hard to see from the main drag that it has been growing by word of mouth -- but pleasing, with eight signature tacos, as well as more basic breakfast and lunch/dinner taco options and plenty of items on the "Y Mas" side of the menu.
One thing that sets Tacos Y Mas apart is its salsas, which come in caddies of five bottles of sauces ranging from mild to scorching. These salsas don't mess around; I like my food spicy, and the green sauce in the middle of the salsa range was plenty hot for me. The chipotle salsa, which was on the mild side, had the best flavor.
The chipotle salsa is already an integral ingredient in the Presidente (grilled beef steak) and Senorita (shredded chicken breast) tacos. Of the two, the Senorita had the better flavor, because it also has full chipotle peppers along with the chipotle salsa. Both were $2.79 per taco, but a combo featuring the two as well as rice and beans is $6.39. Tip: Opt for the charro beans, which had a nice pork flavor, over the more ordinary refried beans.
Pork, fish, shrimp and veggie tacos round out the other nonbreakfast taco options; the vegetarian El Verde ($2.59), a mix of mushrooms, peppers and onions grilled in olive oil and topped with jack cheese and chipotle salsa, was substantial with fresh, crispy vegetables.
All of this went well with the "Trio," a smart $4.99 chips-and-sauce option that lets you sample Tacos Y Mas' queso, guacamole and salsa roja (supposedly its hottest salsa, though I thought the verde was hotter). The guacamole came off best, with a nice smooth-chunky consistency; the queso was a little runny for our tastes, but otherwise had good flavor. It could use more heat, but that's easily solved by mixing in some of one of the salsas.
Breakfast tacos ($1.99) and burritos ($5.29) feature expected options such as bacon and egg, sausage and egg, potato and egg, etc., with pico de gallo and cheddar cheese. Between the bacon and the chorizo, the chorizo was the winner, thanks to the meat's spicy tinge. Migas and a monster burrito called The Big "D" -- bacon, sausage, chorizo, ham and potato, with pico and cheddar -- are also available on the breakfast menu.
There's a lot more to try on the "Y Mas" side of the menu, including nachos, tortas and quesadillas, and so many possible taco combinations that you begin to realize the menu is bigger than it looks at first sight.
But the tacos alone are a good and inexpensive reason to drop in. Just keep a sharp eye out when you're looking for the Keller spot.
Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872