Last visit: August 2014
Other locations: Dallas (2, Uptown and Park Cities), Las Colinas, Plano, Addison, Fort Worth (Sundance Square)
It feels kind of funny to label Taco Diner as a "taqueria", as this is about as far away as possible to the classic little humble street vendor as you can get. But essentially Taco Diner is in fact a taqueria. A high end, upscale taco truck. With chairs... and frozen margaritas. The diners' themselves are laid out in the classic 60's googie architecture style mixed with a tres hip late 90s ambiance. So if you feel so compelled, wander in alone with a newspaper tucked under your arm and instead of waffles, order up a taco la parilla... and a frozen margarita. Speaking of which, actually don't order a frozen margarita. They're average at best, and at $8 for a small glass, a ripoff to boot. And there ends my complaints about Taco Diner.
Because the food is quite good, and perhaps a bit surprising given the relative blandness of their flagship Mi Cocina tex-mex franchise. Taco Diner is yet another wing of the "M Crowd" (to me this sounds like a late 90s electronica group - which definitely fits their persona). The chips are homemade tortillas, hand broken, and comes with two mild salsas (one green, one red). If you ask for more a spicy alternative, you will be brought a creamy green serrano and an orange-ish chile de arbol sauce. The latter is pretty hot, but lacks flavor. The former is the winner of the group, with the same level of spice, and a fantastic pepper flavor. I tried 4 tacos on this visit: chicken and pork al pastor, bistec and fish. Funny enough I had trouble discerning between the pork and the chicken, but the pastor is very good - though not as yummy as Tres Casas in Keller. The carne had a fine grilled meat flavor. And the tilapia featured the most seasoning, though the achiote citrus marinade was a bit too sweet for my liking. All and all a fine selection - and priced well at $10 for the 4 (you'll pay more at Yucatan). Mrs. RJG settled on the Tacos Cancun, and I think her tacos were even better than mine. Excellent shrimp and spices.
Our first experience with Taco Diner was at the Las Colinas location (~2006), but shortly thereafter they opened the one in Southlake Town Square. Along with Five Guys and Snuffers, this is your best bet for lunch if shopping in the area.
The Southlake location is Taco Diner's lone venture across the Great Divide. So I'll label it a Dallas area chain for now.