Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Yucatan Taco Stand

The new Fuzzys, wait, Pei Wei, wait, no Taco Stand...wait, what is it? What is that new place on the Southside on Magnolia? Its the bastard child of Pei Wei and Fort Worth's very own Fuzzy's. They wont admit it, but even John Edwards will admit who this daddy is (haha, topical humor, haha).

I don't normally post reviews this quickly after a prior review, but this is important. Yucatan Taco Stand opened yesterday and I'm here to provide you with everything you need to know.

First things first. The entrance is in the breezeway on the east side of the restaurant so don't try to crawl over the little sidewalk fence. As you walk in, you'll notice something very familiar. Three mounted menu boards at an angle eerily similar to Pei Wei. Thats because Pei Wei is this baby's mama.

The menu includes appetizers, tacos, burritos, nachos, south american favorites, and others. The prices range from about $3 for a taco to plates up in the $20 range. I'm cheap so I opted for tacos and the yuca fries while the Mrs. opted for the tequile lime chicken nachos.

But, before I get into the food, let me catch you up on the appearance of this place. It's trendy looking. There are tables against the window, tables up against a middle half wall that has giant sheets of material going to the ceiling, and cabana booths on one end. So its sort of a mexican/south american style place but with a layer of sleek on top. It really does look like Pei Wei and Fuzzy's snuck off down to the river one night. And this was born.

Why Fuzzy's you ask? Because the tacos are very similar to Fuzzy's. I had a tempura fish taco and a cabrito taco. Technically, cabrito is spanish for gringo. But here it means lamb. The tacos come out just like Fuzzy's except the tortilla is triple layered and the meat is covered in a roasted garlic sauce. According to a random non-yucatan woman, the sauce is on everything. Think about that next time you sit down there. The tacos are topped with lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, red cabbage, red onions, and probably some other stuff. They come in baskets on a piece of parchment paper and foil. Sound familiar? There's also a giant jar of hot sauce on the table.

The tacos are very fresh and tasty. However, the tempura fish tasted soggy (probably because of the garlic sauce) and I couldn't taste/feel much tempura. The cabrito was terrific though. It was a bit spicy and very flavorful. I put some of the green (medium) sauce on my fish taco and I'm not sure I could taste it. There wasn't much spice in those bites and I didn't really taste anything different. Both tacos were good, but the cabrito was the best. I would recommend skipping the tempura.

We also ordered the yuca fries with garlic aioli as an appetizer. These are fried pieces of yuca (I guess) with a sauce. If you remember the prime rule of eating - everything fried is better - then you know that these are good. They were crispy, warm and served with a delicious sauce. I would highly recommend these.

The Mrs. went with the tequila lime chicken nachos and I'm embarrassed to say that she out ordered me. Her plate resembled some Mayan temple, covered in guacamole, lettuce, red onions, red cabbage, chicken, cheese, tomatoes, and roasted garlic sauce. Queso covered Mayans....mmm.... It was great. The flavors all melded well and I think this would be a great item for a table to share.

She also had a margarita and it was terrific. It came in one of those goofy looking wine glasses without a stem, but don't be fooled by that. It's good with a great mixture of tequila and margarita flavor.

So that brings me to my overall opinion of this place. Its a Pei Wei family restaurant, so its a chain. But its the first one...although more are planned. So its technically a chain, on Magnolia, the home of unique Fort Worth restaurants such as Scampi's, Junsuree Thai House, Lili's, Spiral Diner, Paris, and Benitos, just to name a few. It has a very trendy feeling and its definitely different from the other places on Magnolia. It feels like it would fit in perfectly in Montgomery Plaza...oh wait... So I'm not sure how I feel about it being located in the heart of so much uniqueness.

But its also got good food (based on what we ordered) and it seems like a great place to grab some nachos and margaritas or beers and hang out for an evening. I'm sure this will draw new people down to Magnolia, so that's a good thing, but its expensive, compared to some of its competition (Fuzzy's).

I would definitely recommend checking it out. The service is still a bit spotty (they've only been open two days), but with the Pei Wei backing, they know how to run a restaurant so hopefully it will be around for awhile.

Let me know what you think.

Yucatan Taco Stand on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, I think little miss Pei Wei has been very busy lately because there is a new restaurant called "Mi Chula, Good Mexican" that has opened in Southlake. Sounds identical to the Yucatan Taco Stand. Mi Chula has the same menu boards, furniture and kitchen equipment as Pei Wei. It also seems to be on the semi-expensive side for Mexican food, but they have some unique dishes. Can't wait to go check out the garlic sauce covered restaurant that you so eloquently reviewed.

Thanks for keeping us informed.

Cowboy fan, burger junkie, GodFather of Tech said...

I saw Mi Chula earlier this week when we were leaving Central Market after having had a quick sandwich over at Whichwich (good stuff).

Mi Chula was packed (and it was late), so I want to go when it gets a little less traffic and try it out.

I will also try the Yucatan Taco Stand when I get a change.

Kevin Buchanan said...

I had to laugh at the "temple of food" comment. This is Kevin of Fort Worthology and West & Clear...fame? Anyway, whilst eating at Yucatan tonight in preparation for my own reviewage, I couldn't help but notice a couple across the way receiving a huge and (from what I could see) pretty temple-shaped plate of food. Did y'all happen to spot a couple in a booth by the window, the guy of which wearing a newsboy cap and taking photos of the food? Yeah, that was us. Small world, if that 'twas you.

Anyway, I hadn't heard that this was either a chain or a Pei Wei backed enterprise. From what I can tell, it's the brainchild of Michael...something (I'm bad with names at times) and the menu is the creation of Paul "Fuzzy's" Willis. Everything I've been told points to it being a locally born & raised enterprise. I'd be curious to know if that's actually the case.

We went vegetarian with everything as is our want (the vegetarian offerings are mightily impressive). Everything we had was absolutely fantastic. I will dream tonight of those grilled plantains and the cappuccino pie.

Anonymous said...

Isn't cabrito goat meat?
We've eaten at the Race St. Fuzzy's and the Berry St. Fuzzy's this week and both meals were hot, cheap and delicious. I had hoped Yucatan would be more of the same.
**after reading some of the comments I think that your sarcasm is often mistaken as fact, ???????

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Kevin, that wasn't us, but I did see you there. We were sort of behind you over near the cabanas (not the table of girls by the window). Were you taking pictures of the place and the food? I would love to see what your food looked like.

I guess its ok for the Yucatan to be a chain, if it was born and raised here in the Fort. Then it will be like we're sharing the greatness with others.

Anonymous 2, I would say this is an upscale Fuzzy's. You should give it a try purely because they have options Fuzzy's doesn't have. Cabrito is goat, but for some reason they use that term for lamb. Maybe lambe is considered more appetizing than goat but they wanted to keep the taco stand roots.

Sorry for any confusion arising from my use of sarcasm. I know it can be difficult to detect online. I would recommend viewing every sentence as fact until proved otherwise.

As for Mi Chula, I haven't been but I'll check it out. Maybe Yucatan and Mi Chula should meet.

Thanks for reading

Anonymous said...

Long time, first time. Love the blog.

I'm still confused about the Pei Wei reference. I get the analogy, but were you saying the P.F. Chang's is actually backing this place? I, like Kevin, was under the impression this was locally created and funded, and I haven't heard anything about this place being the first in a chain.

I also ate at the Yucatan this week, and have a few comments:

Salsa is good. Pretty standard, but good. Guacamole good as well, but presentation was a little extravagant. Almost more of a guacamole salad. I'm happy with it plopped in a bowl.

There is a menu section of nicer entrees that is only available after 4:00 pm. The Mrs. got one of these and it was good. The presentation was very well done on a skinny rectangular plate. But only like $13, so not that bad. These more restaurant-esque items it what will set this place apart, for good or bad.

I got a burrito, which was basically a wrapped up taco in a flour tortilla. No rice or beans. Very confusing.

As Kevin insinuated, get the cappuccino pie. I would go back just for this.

As mentioned in the review, they are still working out the kinks. The employees didn't seem all that comfortable even working the computer system. I think we should give them some leeway until they have the actual grand opening. This is why restaurants have soft openings.

Right now, Yucatan is open till 10:00 pm, but several of the employees said that in the near future, they plan on being open much later, possibly till 2:00 am. The bar area is pretty nice, with two flat screens, a decent though smallish selection of beers, and an extensive tequila selection.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Anonymous, one of the ladies who worked there told me they were part of the P.F. Chang family and that this was the first Yucatan. She also told me they planned to open others but this was the test restaurant.

I agree about the after four plates. I think those are going to be great. And the service will get much better as they get used to running the place.

The Pei Wei reference was based on how similar the ordering is to Pei Wei - the angled menu boards, getting a circle with a number on it to identify your table, and the font all seemed familiar. But I don't think that takes away from how cool this place is.

It may not have come across this way in the review, but I really enjoyed this place and will go back.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...I could be wrong, but I have a feeling the employee you talked to was full of shit. To me, it didn't feel like a corporate experience. It wasn't polished enough. Seemed like some locals trying to half-ass some concepts from a few popular places. And the location wouldn't make sense either for new chain either. Whatever...I guess we'll find out eventually.

Again, love the blog. And I liked the Yucatan too. I hope they get their shit together after they're open a bit longer.

Anonymous said...

we went tonight and saw a few other tables filled but the entire street was dead. does magnolia turn off the lights at 9? the food and adult beverages were great and the list of tequila and drinks is impressive. My son said his kid burrito plate was one of the best meals he has had when eating out--it looked like real food and not processed kid food served at most places. my taco temple was too big but very good and my husband dove into his bowl (bowl? 3/4 of a circle?)so fast and finished it so quickly that I never even saw what he had. The bowl was weird and he said he had to work to keep the food in the bowl and off the table. We're going back tomorrow with a large group because the food was good, service good, drinks good and the place was empty so there will be plenty of room for several families.
by the way, no way it is a chain.
go. it's good.

Anonymous said...

forgot to tell you in the last anon post:
the fries were awesome but the aioli was thin and tasteless.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Like I reported in my groundbreaking blog, the non-yucatan lady (I believe she was one of the more important people there because I had another question that was immediately referred to her) told me they were part of the PF Chang/Pei Wei family and that this was the first of what they hoped would be many. It very well could be that they just ripped off a number of ideas from Pei Wei and it would please me more than anything to find out its not a chain. But thats what I was told.

As far as the polish goes, it has only been open for a few days now so the polish may come.

as for Magnolia being empty, there are people who can answer that question better than I can, but here's what I've got... There are just under a dozen restaurants in that area but they are spread out. The rest of the buildings are filled with offices or are empty. The restaurants are all open but may not appear busy every night of the week. When we were at Yucatan, the other places, like Lili's, Scampi's and even Palermo's had crowds. It may just be the night. The area is experiencing a revitalization and if you go on certain nights, you can really feel/see it. There are also a number of bars that are picking up in populatrity or opening. So, yes, it does sort of shut down, but thats changing.

When I had the aioli sauce it was thick and flavorful. I guess thats part of the inconsistency in opening days. Glad to hear your family had such a great time. Maybe tonight will have a big crowd.

Thanks for reading.

John C. said...

I went last night, and give it two thumbs up ... I had the special ground beef taco (I think it's called) and the tequila lime chicken taco, and both were excellent -- much better than their counterparts at Fuzzy's. (Which is where I tried to go originally, but the line was out the door with sorority girls in colorful t-shirts.)

My only complaint has to do with the tortilla chips -- they reeked of store-boughtedness. The salsa was quite good, but the chips, not so much.

Otherwise, color me impressed. I'll be back. (Although they may want to crank up the lighting a bit at night -- one girl I saw had to use the light from her cell phone to navigate her way to the door.)

Anonymous said...

I think it's important to remember that this place hasn't had a grand opening or done any advertising. The only people eating there are readers of a few blogs and/or people that have driven by and seen that it was open.

Jeremy said...

I agree with 'anonymous' that we need to take into consideration that the restaurant is still in the soft opening phase.

Having said that, I've already been twice (it's not my fault, I live three houses away). I suggest anything with Cabrito, it is awesome! I also really liked the bowls and the sandwich...oh and the margaritas! Soon I will embrace the after 4:00pm dishes, but that will have to wait until at least Saturday night.

Now if only a coffee shop and a grocery store would open up off Magnolia we'd be set. Oh and maybe a couple more evening establishments...

Kevin Buchanan said...

According to the people we've talked to there, it is not associated with PF Chang's/Pei Wei. There's Michael...something, and Justin McWilliams is one of the other partners - he's been involved in some of the stuff on Race Street as well.

Anonymous said...

turn on the lights!
get rid of the enormous pillows.
wonderful lemonade!
move the FWWeekly rack--it is in the way when people line up at the drink/silverware bar.
level the tables.

keep making the fantastic food!
we've been twice in two days and we'll be back. and take friends.

Mr. Jose said...

Just a quick note on Mi Chula in Southlake. The reader is right in suspecting it to be a corporate chain, though it's not PF Chang's, but rather Uncle Julio's who is behind the concept.

I need to check out the Yucatan, sounds like a pretty cool place.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...


Thanks for the info. I guess that clears everything up. Good news too because now it definitely fits in.

Anybody go this week with new recommendations?

Jeremy said...

Mr Fortworthholeinthewall

Try the Chilaquiles (sp?) it's REALLY good...warm bowl of melted cheese, tortillas, shredded chicken mixed together in a heavenly sauce. It was so good I didn't even need the Cappuccino pie at the end...just a nap.

fwtacoma said...

I went for the first time and had the chimichanga pollo verde. It was delicious but I wish they wouldn't serve it in a bowl. The entire time I was afraid it would fall out. Are all the bowls the awkwardly angled bowls? Or do they have flat bowls for other items?

Dena said...

The nachos were indeed delicious. But we also ordered the empenada peccadillo and it tasted like it was seasoned with dirt. But I did love the atmosphere and I will have to go back for dinner to have a drink!!

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Dena, you must have ordered the dirt empanada. I hear they aren't very good. I would also stay away from the foot flavored tortilla soup and the wetdog-tini.

Glad you enjoyed the place minus the empanada. Let me know if you get something else that is really good (or bad).

Thanks for reading.

hope&laughter said...

Have you been to either Mi Pueblo near the Northeast Mall or Molcajetes located on Western Center & Beach St? Now they serve decent, sometimes really good Mexican places to eat. They are a chain in that the same family own all four restaurants (there is also Mi Pueblo 2 and Don Taco, but I haven't been to those). I really like there mole enchiladas and chips & salsa.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Hope, I haven't been to either of those but thank you for the recommendatinos. I'll try to get over there. I had a bad experience with mole once so it may be time to face my past and try again.

Thanks for reading.

Mr. Jose said...

Hello Hope and Laughter. I agree with your assessment of Mi Pueblo. I wrote about them here:

Thanks again FWHITW for a great blog!

Anonymous said...

I've seen a couple Mi Pueblos on my travels throughout Tarrant County, but can't eat there until you review it. Know it's not a hole-in-the-wall, but could you help us out here and give it a try? Sometimes there is just not a HITW when you are in need of an immediate mexican food fix!

Keep up the good work on the blog!

Zee said...

Molcajetes located on Western Center & Beach St

Molcajetes is one of my favorite places to go when I have workshops up in that area. I love their charro beans - much better than the refried!

jenny said...

FWHITW have you ever been to the taco wagon in the parking lot of Carnival Grocery store on 28th and Main St? The best tacos with lime onions and sauce to die for. Eat it right in your car.

Going to try Yucatan tmrw. yay!

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Jenny, I haven't been there yet but it sounds like a trip. Thanks for the suggestion and for reading.

Hope you liked Yucatan.

Anonymous said...

I have not been to Yucatan but I have been to Mi Chulas it has excellent food and more service than a Pei Wei. I feel that the food at Mi Chulas is better than at Pei Wei and if you like fish Tacos than you have to try Mi Chulas they are the best I have had. From the comments though I will have to check out Yucatan.
What I do know is that the guys from Fuzzys are behind this new adventure. The guys who created Uncle Julios are no longer with Julios and but they are the owners of Mi Chulas.

FortWorthHoleInTheWall said...

Jenny, I haven't been to the Taco Wagon but my wife's birthday is coming up so that may be an option. Do they have good breakfast burritos? I've been looking for another really good place for burritos.

Anonymous, thanks for the recommendation on Mi Chula's.

I recently went back to Yucatan and had the Chili Relleno. It was amazing. The only complaint I have about the place is that they put too much stuff that mixes all together on the plate. I don't have to separate my peas and carrots, but I also don't like the mixture of everything. However, Chili Relleon = good.

FWFoodie said...

I've been a few times now and was afraid I would have to stop if I found out it was a chain. but no worries! I asked one of the owners, Steve Mitchell, and this is NOT part of a chain, although they do have aspirations to expand to new locations in DFW. so continue to enjoy w/o fear that you're giving in to corporate giants :P this place is independent and wonderful.

Zee said...

I finally ate at Yucatan yesterday. Saturday for lunch ... it was empty ... and that was okay by me. I split the grilled veggie nachos with a friend and ordered a side of black beans and fried latin rice. The black beans and rice were okay. I loved the nachos. They were piled high and very yummy. Lots of different flavors. I think next time, if I split the nachos I'll get a side taco or something else as a side instead of rice and beans.

Thanks for the heads up on this one, FWHITW!

Anonymous said...

While my wife and I enjoyed the food at Yucatan Taco Stand, the execution was less than spectacular. We are not fans of the order at the door get your own drinks type places. Don't get me wrong, the garlic beef tacos and the garlic chimichurri steak were excellent, but when we got our margaritas we had to laugh. they were so small it was comical! after 3 sips mine was gone. Plus, the bartender carfully measured out each ingredient...and not much actual tequila was going in. As for the service... we came in and sat at the bar, which we often do when we want to drink and eat and when the bar is not crowded. It was not possible to even order a taco at the bar we had to go wait in line then go back to the bar and wait. Ugh. At least have a bar menu to order from. We watched as drink after drink was poured, careful not to "overpour" any liquor. I swear, I drink only the best tequilas in my margaritas and nowhere else in the DFW area have I seen such a thing. Mostly ice and mix really. Plus, the PREGNANT bartender had to climb up on the back bar to get to the "premium" tequilas to pour a "flight"..which I am glad I did NOT order because I saw here pour barely enough tequila to wet the bottom of each glass. Had I ordered it I would have laughed and sent it back. I'm just not sure I care for the new trend of the Pei Wei/Mi Chulas/Yucatan type ordering system. The food is too good to leave there with such a bad experience

Anonymous said...

"According to the people we've talked to there, it is not associated with PF Chang's/Pei Wei. There's Michael...something, and Justin McWilliams is one of the other partners - he's been involved in some of the stuff on Race Street as well."

Are you talking about Justin McWilliams the house flipper from North Richland Hills, TX that sold us a house he knew had a cracked foundation and covered it up with his buddy's fake engineering report? If so, I would stay far, far, far away from anything with his hand in it.

M-Rod said...

Went to Yucatan last night. A complete disaster. We sat at a table in the bar area and had drinks first. The NCAA tournament was going on at the time but both TVs in the bar area were on other channels. i politely asked our waitress if one of the bartenders can change the channel to CBS. Her response.."Um, can you do it because I don't want to make them mad?" I'm sorry but should I get my own drinks and cook my own food while I'm at it? I went up to the bar, waited about 10 minutes (no attention from the multiple bartenders and finally got one of them to change it. Next, we decided to get something to eat. The plan was for me to hold the table while the GF gets in the massive line (it was almost out the door) to order (I know. Genious.) She had moved about 8 feet in 10 minutes in the line before she finally threw in the towel and left to go somewhere else. The food might be good (I wouldn't know) but the set up and service is horrible.

M-Rod said...

Well, I have returned. And, we returned to Yucatan last night with some friends. By doing this, you can see I am a forgiving person. But I don't forget.

This time we followed the procedure of getting in line first. Not bad. It was quite easy and my hats off to the cashier for making this enjoyable and quick. Then, we found a booth in the back corner. Like all the other open tables, it was filthy. We had to find someone to come clean it off (again, do I work here?). Our food (mine and the GF) was brought out to us in timely fashion. At this point, I am starting to find a lot of positives about this place. Then, it all vanishes.

When our friends' food came out, we realized we had the same waitress (J.M.) as before. She had her standard "I wish I was anywhere but here" look on her face and looked at our friends as if they should be serving themselves.

Her accessiblity for anything (i.e.; ordering more drinks, boxes for left-overs) is completey non-existant. My friend ordered a beer and it took her about 15 minutes (no exaggeration) to deliver. She then finally came over to us and she told us she was leaving and wondering if we would close out our tabs. Maybe her shift was truly over but I looked around and noticed we were the only people left in her section (there were other people still in the restaurant) So again, the service was a huge let down.

I give the food an A+. I really enjoyed the nachos. I give the set-up a C (a trainwreck when it's crowded). I give the ambiance an A (great place to people watch). I give the service an F-- (if you can do that).

Overall, not that impressed and would love to see changes made.

Anonymous said...

I have now been to Yucatan twice. I really enjoy the food there, and have gotten the grilled veggie burrito bowl both times. I have to agree with several of the comments, however, that the service in this restaurant is extremely subpar.

I know the setup of Yucatan has been compared to Pei Wei, but at Pei Wei they manage to have two cash registers, so the line moves much faster.

Yesterday my friend and I got through the line with 6 people in front of us in about 20 minutes. The girl working the cash register had no sense of urgency whatsoever. She also was not very friendly.

The food got to our table quickly and was very good.

We had a friend meet us there a little while later, and again, the inconvenience of such a long, slow line led to her being in line for about another 20 minutes during which we would have liked to enjoy her company. She got her food quickly and enjoyed it also (Chicken fajitas).

We had a 3rd friend meet us a little later, who was there only to have a drink. I think she waited for at least 10 or 15 minutes for a drink.

We eventually had someone come ask us if we needed anything after we had been there about 2 1/2 hours. We ordered a drink from her, but after that first time I had to track her down and send her back to the table. She also was not very friendly.

The food and atmosphere of this place is fantastic, but unless something changes on the service side, I think people will eventually get tired of it. I understand that it is not a sit down restaurant with waiters, but in my opinion, the way it is being done now does not work.