This post is basically an addendum to the la nortena post. If you turn left onto Ashley Phosphate from the 26 exit, you will find a small world of authentic Mexican streetfood from a number of carts and vendors and in restaurants as well.
Los Parados Taco Cart: This is the first taco cart I tried on this street. The tacos are similar to those found all along this strip with slow cooked meats, fresh onions and cilantro on a double stack of corn tortillas served with fresh salsas. This stand is good and similar to the one found across the street (though they have hot pickled carrots served on the side). Generally at these places younger employees will be able to communicate in English and older ones will not. But if you know what you want, all you need is to order that item followed by a por favor. The tacos al pastor are always a good choice as well as carnitas (or whatever you are willling to try…lengua, mejilla (beef cheek), tripe…)
Fruit stand cart: This is basically across the street from los parados taco stand and next to another taco stand (the one mentioned above). They sell some food but mostly offer fruits prepared, if you like, with lime juice and chile powder (a common way to eat fruit in Mexico). Try the cut up mango or jicama with lime juice and chile, cut to order on the spot by a nice abuelita.
Los Parados Restaurant: This was my first Mexican experience on Ashley Phosphate, and though I think the quality can be fickle, it serves some authentic stuff like huaraches (fried or grilled fresh corn tortilla cakes topped with meat, queso fresco, avocado…) along with flat tacos, soups, and other staples. I have to say that this place can feel uncomfortable for a gringo–not as clean and peppy as la nortena.
El Progreso Restaurant: Though this is not on Ashley Phosphate (It’s on Remount) it deserves comment–it fits into this category pretty well. Progreso has a lunch buffet that I would stay away from but does have good huaraches piled high with meat and fixings, all served to us by a very cynical puerto rican waitress who made us laugh by telling us not to order anything and asking why we liked this food.
La Nortena Restaurant: The Nortena on Ashley Phoshate has had some renovations and its Remount location is now closed. Apparently, another Nortena will open soon on Rivers. In the meantime, this Nortena is up to par and is usually full for dinner. Try the torta jalisco or the torta carnitas which are delicious grilled sandwiches with meat, cheese, beans, jalapenos; the kind of food you dream of after the bars. Also the veracruzana fish is pretty good. Avoid the shrimp cocktail though–it is not that fresh and swimming in a sickly sweet tomato sauce. Strangely, the spanish speakers in these restaurants love the shrimp cocktail.
There are a number of other spots along this strip–feel free to add your input–one day we will rottenoysters them all. In the meantime your info would be appreciated. Buen Provecho!