100 Favorite Dishes 2013-2014: No. 37, Trompo Tacos at Taqueria La Macro
This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus® issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in town. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston foodscape.
Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg The ruddy trompo is spicy, juicy and totally addictive.
The word trompo comes from the Spanish for "spinning top," which is what the vertical rotating skewer stacked with meat resembles. The whole apparatus looks like the preparation for Middle Eastern shawarma, and that's likely because Lebanese immigrants to Mexico brought some of their cooking techniques with them when they left their homeland.
Today, trompo is traditionally slices of pork marinated in chiles and pineapple or citrus that's then cooked on a rotating spit. It's sliced to order, which means it's super fresh, and the mixture of spices and acidic pineapple breaks down the bromelain in the meat, which means it's also super tender.
I daresay La Macro makes the best trompo tacos in town. They're tiny--the diameter of each homemade corn tortilla is probably no more than three inches. They come with diced onions and a bit of fresh cilantro and nothing else, which may be surprising to those of us accustomed to Tex-Mex with guac and cheese and pico and anything else we can fit between a tortilla.
Barbacoa tacos on either end and trompo in the center.
For a truly classic trompo taco, ask for sliced pineapple on top as well (it's an extra $.50, but worth it). And that's it. Pork, pineapple, onions and cilantro in a tiny doubled corn tortilla. Sounds simple, but it's the trompo that makes La Macro the best taqueria in town.
The trompo is almost impossibly red, like tandoori chicken, but with different spices to give it that ruddy complexion. It's spicy, too. Nearly spicy enough that I didn't need the extra homemade tomatillo and red chile salsa La Macro provides. There's a burst of heat in each bite, followed by a rush of acid, and then the fresh zing of onions and cilantro. Finally, the tortilla calms the taste buds once more until you go back for another bite.
It should also be noted that, while the trompo tacos are my clear favorite, the barbacoa and chicken tacos at La Macro are wonderful as well. If spicy, tender pork isn't your thing, give one of those a try instead. But if spicy, tender pork isn't your thing, you're probably crazy.
See the full list of favorites on the next page.