Acapulco #1

A Real Beauty of a Hand-Painted Sign

A Real Beauty of a Hand-Painted Sign

1133 Airline • Corpus Christi, Texas • 361-994-7274
6:00am – 11:00pm every day
Bottomless Coffee: $0.99
Chorizo & Egg: $1.35
Carne Guisada: $1.45
1133 Airline • Corpus Christi, Texas • 361-994-7274
6:00am – 11:00pm every day
Bottomless Coffee: $0.99
Chorizo & Egg: $1.35
Carne Guisada: $1.45

I’ve been to the edge and I’ve looked deep into they eyes of the abyss.  I spit over the side and listened to hear it hit bottom, and it didn’t.  The gaping maw of which I speak is, in taco terms, the valley of death – a desert I drove across knowing there would be satisfaction if I made it out alive.  There is no way of knowing when you’re traveling in the north where you’ll find a good taco.  While I was born in Texas I have no particular problem with yankees, or even the yankee rednecks you find in the midwest.  The food in Ohio, however, was deeply troubling.  Aside from the meals where my family was involved in the preparation I don’t think I had a single tasty meal for a week.  Life can be so cruel.

So upon returning to Tacotopia, I got a taco first thing Monday morning (Garibaldi) and then again on Wednesday (Banda’s).  I couldn’t help myself – I wanted coffee and you can get a large coffee and a taco at world class taquerias blocks away from my job for the price of a coffee alone at Aqua Java or Starbucks.  Okay, the coffee is not as good as Aqua Java’s but it serves its purpose and the tacos rock.  So this morning the Hat, the Matt, and myself all met up on Airline at Acapulco Taqueria #1.  It’s in the 30s outside and wet.  The weather, in a word, sucks.  My heater core needs replacing in my truck so in the cold the windshield fogs up.  I’m driving down the road with one hand on the wheel and one hand wiping down the inside of the windshield.  Plus I have a toothache.  All of this in addition to the seasonal increase in my workload and the stress of the upcoming holiday.  It’s enough to make a man plow their vehicle into a fireworks stand while lighting a cigarette.

TacosGood tacos, at least in this case, are the best medicine – well maybe some zoloft and a root canal, but who can afford it without health insurance? We sat down at the table and started drinking the excellent coffee, and I could feel the trouble being extinguished. Could it be things will all work out? Could the recession really be over? Could we exist in a world without poverty, war, and reality TV? I doubt it but at least I can take solace in one of the most perfect foods in existence, and I don’t mean the fabled eggnog custard pie.

Acapulco Taqueria is right near the two malls in Corpus Christi.  We’d heard about it for some time.  The place is hospital-clean the service is great.  There were a mix of cops and used car salesmen in attendance today, not a bad sign.  My carne guisada was good – nothing unusual about it but well made and very tender, no small relief to my aching jaw.  All this on good, thick, fresh flour tortillas.  I finished the carne g and moved on to the chorizo & egg, and it was exceptional: a perfect balance of grease, egg and sausage.

Leading IndicatorAfter 5 or 6 more cups of coffee and the exchange of weeks worth of tall tales the three of us lit out into the dim and dismal daylight, each one feeling a little bit better about what lay in store.

From the Hat

Hello, I’m The Hat and it’s been two weeks since my last breakfast taco.  I’ve long passed the grippin’ and jonesin’, and am beginning to get that attitude of superiority of one recently on the wagon.  Sure, you can do it the easy way, exiling yourself in a foreign land, like Ohio where they can’t even spell tako.  You couldn’t get a taquito if you wanted one.  Not me boy-o.  I did it the hard way, cold turkey, in the epicenter of taco activity.  Just me and my will power… and deep-fried turkey… and mince pie… and cornbread dressing.

I have to admit, on more than one occasion I found myself thinking about tacos, though.  Rehearsing in my mind that little peek inside the taco when it arrives at the table; watching my hands work on kinesthetic memory alone as they spoon a line of salsa down the middle and tuck it all back together; the prep finally complete.  Glad to be in company with fellow tacoteurs, but not really willing to share.

Relapse was but a text message away.  Two words:  “Taqueria Acapulco”.  I needed to call my sponsor, but it was from my sponsor.  I was lost.  I knew better than to put myself in that environment… the smell of tacos cooking, and of coffee, that easily obtainable breakfast gateway that always seems to lead down the path… to tacos.

Acapulco was a warm, dry place on a wet, cold morning.  It was brightly lit and smelled of cooking.  The Taco Show Host and M. were already there and had facilitated my breakfast with a cup of coffee.  After a look at the menu, I had decided.  But M. had noticed they were having a tripas special and ordered accordingly.  Not to be out-tacoed, I did the same.  Along with the tripas, I ordered a chicharrón con huevos a la Mexicana.  While we waited, we drank very good never-ending coffee and talked of the poor state of food in the Buckeye State.

When the tacos arrived, my tripas taco was splayed on the plate, guts spilled out like some breakfast tauntaun sacrificed for the nourishment of my body.  The tripas were perfect, clean and crispy.  Cut into lengths of an inch or so made them bite-sized and easy to manage.  They could only have been better with a fresh-made corn tortilla.  The flour torts were very good, though.  A bit of salsa, some cebollas y cilantro, and the taco had me wishing I’d another.  The second offering was good, but not a home run.  The chicharrones were the crunchy, bag-type and had plenty of bite to them.  There were plenty of them in the well-stuffed taco.  Both the spicy salsa, and the Ranchero sauce were good and added positively to the tacos.

As I look at the empty plate, I’m hoping to find just a little morsel that might have fallen out of the taco.  Surely I haven’t eaten them both already.  But I have and I’m left with nothing but the shame at having succumbed to the taco’s call once again.  I could see people looking down their noses at me already, and I’m uneasy at sight of the police car at the door when we exit.  What will my friends and family say about my return to the taco lifestyle?  Should I tell them?  But of course, this is a taco blog.

– Salud



Acapulco Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Reparo Taquito – Off The Grid


Reparo Taquito

Airline at Golihar

Corpus Christi, TX

WildernessFamilyDoes anyone here remember Robert Logan?  I doubt it.  I didn’t know his name as a child but I will remember forever hearing him cry out “We’re gettin’ out of here!” while stuck in traffic with his wife in The Wilderness Family, a bastardization of Swiss Family Robinson – which is itself a derivative of Robinson Crusoe. Both these movies were produced by Disney which continued to plumb the depths of family friendly isolationism with The Further Adventures of the Wilderness Family and Mountain Family Robinson which inexplicably also starred Robert Logan.  He’s had a handful of parts in tv episodes and movies since then but for the most part he has disappeared from the world, just like the character he played.  This scenario has continued to fuel my anti-social inclinations to this day.  For 5 years I lived in a house on a mountain 7 miles from the closest gas station that was in a town of 600 that didn’t even have a stoplight… in the whole county.  I’ve worked to deal with it.  I get along with people and can keep up the small talk for the most part but it’s not easy, it doesn’t come naturally, and I still entertain fantasies of dropping out of civilization.

The proprietors of Reparo Taquito might feel the same way.  While located on Airline and Golihar, an intersection that sees plenty of traffic, the building is free-standing and looks as if it’s ready to move at a moment’s notice.  I tried to find an address on google maps and it just coughed and looked away.  Who doesn’t love a mystery.  This morning even my camera went on walkabout, and didn’t return until I’d come back to my shop.  Kevy’s lovely wife Shelly contributed the use of her surprisingly excellent point and shoot, and the show went on.

The place is tiny, and has a drive through and a walk-up window.  We got our food and headed back to the rendezvous point to evaluate the goods.  They were pretty good.  There were no homemade corn tortillas so there were effectively no corn tortillas, but the flour was good enough.  The Carne Guisada was a deep red and tender.  The salsa was disappointing, but the Chorizo & Egg was stellar.  I don’t know if it was the drive home that allowed the ample sauce (grease) to saturate the tortilla, or just the quality of the chorizo but It was the best I’ve had in recent memory.

So I work and play downtown now for the most part, but when I run to the wilderness of the South Side I expect I’ll be paying visits to Reparo Taquito – if it hasn’t picked up and walked off.


From the Hat

Finally the weather is starting to like me.  The sky is low and grey.  A cool north breeze has finally survived the heat of Sur de Tejas enough to cross the Nueces and refresh the city.  I like it.  This time of year, I always think of the yearly bow hunting trips I used to make up into Central Texas.  Staying up late, shooting under the lights and getting up early to climb a tree and sit quietly in the cold.  Wondering who would come back from the blind with their shirt tail cut off after the call. We were disconnected from the world, no television, no phone service, all the cooking done on an open fire.  Less was more and we couldn’t ask for less.

I guess it’s a matter of choice, though.  Ike put my friend Billie in a dark, dank house for weeks.    She too was disconnected from the world.  Her comfort was candles and the sound of chainsaws – and her dog.  It was weeks after the storm when we finally convinced her to come to Papalote while they restored power to her neighborhood.  She told stories of her neighbors helping one another – clearing debris, making emergency repairs, sharing food, water, and information.  Connecting in their disconnectedness.  We had her for most of a week – birding, butterflying, walks in the woods with the dogs.  Not roughing it nearly as much as the hunting days, but still away from the world, in the embrace of friends.

I’d started this missive hoping for clever, witty, or even snarky.  I’ve ended with a nostalgic piece I’m sure will have people asking, “Where’s the beef?”  Fortunately for me, this is a taco blog and that means I had tacos this morning and have something to say about them.  Reparo was good.  It had been recommended multiple times.  I had a barbacoa and a lengua on flour.  The technicians will appreciate the lengua.  Roasted, moist and delicious, it was the better of the two tacos.  The barbacoa was the barbacoa for you if you don’t like barbacoa.  It was very lean.  Savory and tasty, but missing the fatty part of the flavor profile.   Starter barbacoa for novices.  Both were served with onions and cilantro.  The salsas made me embarrassed for Reparo.  Both offerings were thin and watery, like the juice you pour off of canned tomatoes.  Salsas aside, it’s worth a repeat visit for sure.



Taqueria Almeida #2 – An Upside to the Southside


Taqueria Almeida #2

2033 Airline Rd

Corpus Christi, TX 78412


Chorizo & Egg: $1.69

Carne Guisada: $2.25

Large Coffee: $1.35

As Tacotopia has grown out of its adolescence and developed into a hard working and respected blog (is there such a thing), if only in its tiny niche, it seems only fair that it should consider moving out of the smelly and violent streets of its youth into the fresh, clean and nondescript sprawl of Corpus Christi’s South Side.

IansTacosTaqueria Almeida would fool you into thinking it would have food as non-descript as the ubiquitous plate glass windows of the shopping center in which it’s housed.  It is not, however, without some character and heart. The big digitally produced backlit sign you see when pulling into the lot sits alongside a few hand-painted beauties.  There is a drive through.  There is green carpet on the walls, and lots of old-time Mexican kitsch that make you forget that you’re eating across from the Corpus Christi Athletic Club. It’s not only ironic but if you consider the full bar and the generous portions it’s a finger in the eye to the gym, and a net loss in the ledger of health for the block.

CornTortillaI got the usual; Coffee, Carne Guisada, Chorizo & Egg.  I’m told I should get the C&E here with cheese but I opted to stick to my ‘scientific method’ (the quotes indicate more irony).  The tortillas were excellent and could be a meal in themselves, especially when combined with the salsas (green and red) which are the best I’ve had in ages, except for my mother-in-law’s.  They’re about the only taqueria salsa I can think of that is really hot, and good enough to make you burn your mouth using a lot of it.  The Chorizo & Egg is not bad, not exceptional.  The Carne Guisada is epic in it’s richness.  The reddest I’ve had, and saturated with spice.  And I will be wearing a path to the baño after the five cups of coffee I drank thanks to the quick action of the polite waitresses. Kevy the explorer handled the more challenging edibles on our excursion into Corpus Christi’s exterior (better than the posterior).


There’s something to be said for taking a foray from the familiar, into the foreign.  It was a pleasant surprise to travel traffic-free into the heart of the Dark Side…the South Side.  I usually try to stay out of the Southern part of town.  It’s like a poor copy of the ugliness that is Katy, or Sugarland.  Sprawling, congested, a collection of strip malls and cookie-cutter houses with no character.  Thankfully, there is taco…

On the plate today was the taco version of surf-n-turf.  I ordered up a mollejas on corn, and a fish taco on flour.  Fish tacos are one of my favorite breakfasts.  Today’s version of the dish didn’t stand up to my fish taco standards.  The “McFish” was a fried, food-service style filet that had more than a hint of fishiness to it.  Served with fresh cabbage and tomatoes, it was mostly good, but not great.  The mollejas were fried crisp — a first for me — fresh from the grill is how I usually get them.  Served ala Mexicana, they were well-seasoned but closer to chicharrones in texture than the soft deliciousness when hot off the grill.

The saving grace of the meal was the salsa!  Wow!  Both the green and the red were delicioso.  With heat enough to open your eyes wide and make you blush.  The green salsa was served in a squeeze bottle like some bizarro ketchup, making for easy application.  The tortillas were excellent, both flour and corn.  The coffee was cafe good, tasty and not too strong, served in a never-ending cup.  The wait staff was courteous and attentive — a positive, but not stellar experience.

If you find yourself in the suburban wasteland of South Corpus Christi and you’re looking for something unique, point your weary self toward this oasis of local flavor.