The whole gas station Mexican food thing sort of started here for me. It started at a Las Cazuelas Grill, but one in Dearborn, Michigan where I spent quite a few lunches downing their Las Cazuelas tacos – a loosely folded deep-fried taco topped with lettuce, cheese and sour cream. The Dearborn location didn’t sell street tacos or at least they never stated so on the menu.
Unfortunately, the Dearborn location closed this year. What I never knew was Las Cazuelas had another location in downtown Detroit. Located in a much more questionable area than Ford Road in Dearborn, the Detroit location is on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Livernois Road off I-94.
Driving down here is for the dedicated gas station taco fan. On a cold, lightly snowy late morning I decided to venture there and see how a Detroit gas station taco is.
The Shamrock gas station is adorned with a large Las Cazuelas Grill sign and inside the mart about half of the place is occupied by several tables and chairs. A large, large for a gas station taqueria, kitchen includes several containers of ingredients and condiments to assemble a variety of menu items: Tortas, burritos, taco salads, tacos and several other choices.
The meat options include steak, chicken, pork (al pastor), and ground beef. Sorry no barbacoa or lengua for the more adventurous.
I went with 5 tacos including 2 pastor, 2 steak and 2 chicken as I was given 1 free since I ordered 5 tacos. They were severed with either flour or corn (hard or soft) tortillas. I went with soft corn tortillas and stayed traditional with only chopped onions and cilantro, passing on the shredded cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes and sour cream.
All three meat choices I went with were good. The meat was lean with only a few pieces including small chunks of fat, mostly on the al pastor option. Of the three, the pastor definitely stood out with plenty of flavors and a hint of sweetness. Add some salsa roja full of pepper seeds and the pastor taco is easily the one I’d recommend over the others. The steak is a respectful choice too as it was cooked to perfection with just enough time on the grill without being tough.
Unfortunately, the tortillas were disappointing tasting soggy and without much flavor. They were lightly grilled with a little oil, just like I like them but they are supermarket tortillas. Next time I’ll opt for the flour tortillas which hopefully stand up better in taste and integrity.
The good news is you can still get gas station tacos in Detroit. The bad news is you have to take some risk with the area that wasn’t as much of a concern with the former Dearborn location.