Linda’s – As In Pretty Damn Good!
4033 Golihar Rd
Corpus Christi, TX
Opens at 6:00 AM
Chorizo & Egg: $1.40
Carne Guisada: $1.85
Bottomless Coffee: 99¢
‘The Hat’ and myself got a hot tip on a serious taco establishment from Louie at Executive Surf Club, who knows a lot about Movies as well as Tacos. A town like this is so overrun with taco shops you could eat at 1 or 2 a week for years and not have even heard of a place that’s about as good as they come. Linda’s is one of these places. I drove by a couple of taqueria’s we’ve reviewed before to get here but I didn’t recognize the place we I came up on it, and was surprised once I got inside. It was big, bright and clean – looking like it had less than 1000 miles on a remodel, though I hear tell of tacos being peddled from the same spot as far back as the 80s.
The pretty waitress, resplendent in her crazy lipliner, was quick with the coffee and accurate with the order and we sat and hashed out schemes and told stories without ever reaching the bottom of the coffee cup. We’d both had harrowing weeks, and I for one don’t see it letting up over the weekend. Life is exhausting – moving from work to driving a kid around to cleaning out the garage to digging through boxes looking for tools squirreled away years before. If you work hard enough you can get ahead but more often it seems like you just barely keep pace and I for one am so tired at the end of the week that I could sleep through the weekend and not feel too guilty about it.
And pay we did today. The tacos at Linda’s were the size of a thanksgiving turkey and just as likely to put you into a tacoma (noun – the condition of fatigue following the consumption of particularly satisfying or plentiful meal consisting of tacos). The tortillas were flawless, I saw Kevin’s homemade corn and mistook it for a flour. The salsa was good, a bright orange purée though not as bright as that of Nano’s. The chorizo & egg was the standard ratio of Chorizo to Egg, cooked together but the quality of the chorizo was very good, and the eggs were perfectly cooked and with the neutralizing flour tortilla topping it off the combination of the three was nearly ideal.
All of this is before I got to the carne guisada, a great example of how it’s supposed to taste. The beef tender and the gravy savory. I saw the hope of completing the meal fading due to the size of the tacos and put some shoulder into the eating and pushed through to the end. In the end all I could find wrong with the place is the lack of a hand-painted sign, a liquor license, and a hammock.
First a couple of items of business: Louie, thanks for the recommendation. We’ve had quite a few referrals from the Executive Surf Club, all have turned out to be very good. Is it that the ESC has an unnaturally high percentage of tacologists? Hmm, I wonder if I spent an hour every day at the gym if I’d find great taco tips there too. Probably, but not likely. I’ll let you decide whether “not likely” applies to me-at-the-gym or to great advice from athletic (taco) supporters.
Shelly, the love of my life and partner in crime for the last 18 years told me of this place long ago. It wasn’t Linda’s then, and it was about Milanesa, not breakfast tacos.
“Back then” she says, “they had the best Milanesa in town.”
Now I love to cook. To try new tastes, new ingredients, new techniques…the whole gambit. I don’t have many rules, but there is one near-constant. A wooden spoon. It’s hard to say where I got them. I want to say it was back when Corpus Christi had a festival called “Art in the Heart” – a weekend-long, three-music-stage party in downtown that had great music, great art vendors, and an all-around great time for all that went. That’s another story.
Anyway, somewhere back in time I bought a couple of mesquite spoons. Right-handed spoons. They have the perfect shape. (For a Rightie.) I’ve used them for almost 18 years now. It’s always the first thing I grab when preparing a meal. I’m convinced that there’s magic in them. Magic from years of cooking for the two of us. Of great meals and of those not-so-great – either way done with care and love. That magic is passed on to others as when a sick friend needs some Chicken-n-Dumplings, or at family gatherings. We joke that now I can’t cook without them. I don’t believe it, but Shell is quick to implore that double-X-linked genetic ability to find things when one comes up missing.
It’s not too far-fetched to think that the taqueria now known as Linda’s has some of that same kind of magic. Nothing quantifiable, necessarily. But due to years in the neighborhood, cooking for people. And the people, in some way influencing the place in a positive way. Who knows – and my scientific mind waves its arms around and screams “Danger Will Robinson!” at the thought. But there’s magic in those spoons, and there was magic in the tacos this morning.
I had two tacos, as is my wont – a nopalitos, chorizo, and egg (It was on the menu.) and a carne asada. Both were excellent. They were both as big as a VW van hood ornament and stuffed with the goods. There was plenty of nopalitos in the chorizo offering. There was also a taste that took me a minute to recognize, Louisiana-style hotsauce. It worked very well in the taco. Might have overpowered the nopalitos a bit. Ian wondered if the vinegary taste might be pickled nopalitos. A possibility, but I’ll stick to my original assessment. The corn tortilla surrounding the taco was very good. As I ate it, it bled an oranger-than-chorizo orange that stained the waiting asada. The asada taco was exactly how I like it. Basically fajita meat with lettuce and tomato. The meat was seasoned very well and held up its end of the bargain. The shredded iceberg was fresh as were the tomatoes. Both the green and orange salsas where delicious and each added something different to the party. The coffee was cafe good and the guy behind me could have definitely used a cup. He cat-napped between visits by the waitress, as evidenced by a low growling snore heard ’round the restaurant. Nighttime noises aside, we’ll definitely be back. I’m curious now if they have Milanesa.