Grandma’s Gorditas – Ghetto Fabulous

4450 Greenwood Dr, Corpus Christi, TX 78416 • (361) 814-1350
Chorizo & Egg $1.81 • Carne Guisada • $2.71

I watched a documentary about hillbilly dancing called Talking Feet last night, and enjoyed it. I lived for many years in the hills of Arkansas, which in many ways is caught in an ebb of time, drawing itself backwards toward a point antebellum as is much of the south and west lately, begging the question: did the union win the war between the states? Consider Governor Steve ‘Ironquaff’ Perry’s entirely opportunist secesh invocations. Not that the other side has a spine left to break, as they can bend so easily without it. People are stupid enough to vote, me included, but I can’t help but think it’s hopeless. Now that this election has ended the 2012 presidential race can begin in earnest. God help us. Politics is hell, pass the ammunition. Both sides think we’re in bad shape, at least we can agree on something.

When I stopped at Grandma’s Gorditas today, there was a guy pulling a campaign sign out of the grass on the side of Greenwood. I half expected him to replace it with another. Switching my ipod from podcasts to music I pulled into the drive-thru. The sun was bright and the sky clear, briefly. I ordered and drove around to the 2nd window. The excellent hand-painted signs sat on layers of peeling paint over rotting wood siding. Two doors on the back of the building must have at one time been restrooms but now one is padlocked shut and the other is unmarked. I got my food and pulled under a long free-standing shade structure, probably built in the 50s, with wind damage bad enough that I worried about the integrity of the thing.

The first thing you notice is the size of the tacos. They appear normal if somewhat square within their wrappers but once they’re opened up the appear to be almost half again the size of many of the local tacos. The chorizo & egg had a good strong flavor, not too salty, with a bit in the back of the throat. The carne guisada was good, chewy but tender, and also had very little salt. I like salt, but I also like it when food comes with little salt in it so I can add it myself. The tortillas were fresh, but not quite newborn and a little dusty with flour. The salsa had a very strong red chili flavor. All in all, this place is not bad.

I should mention that this place has a special place in my heart, as I bought about a gross of tamales for my wedding from here. They do catering as well, and though I’d doubt it’s anything like the catering Water Street does, I can vouch for the tamales.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Nicole ‘Coco’ Austin

Anyone who is a fan of comic book heroines or old school rap should appreciate Coco, who in part bears a striking resemblance to the eponymous Coco de Mer. She’s not a rapper and she hasn’t been in a comic, but she does have the proportions of a superhero and she is married to Ice-T, 21 years her senior, who is so old-school his website has a flash progress bar. I’ve scoured Coco’s twitter feed, her website, imdb, wikipedia, and google all in search of some intellectual of altruistic counterpoint to her mind-bending hotness but have come up empty. All of this makes me wonder if the sheer mass of her curves might not tear a hole in the fabric of space-time just like what was predicted with the LHC. In spite of this I post the picture to your left and hope the universe survives.

Offer includes 2 tacos, an audience with the ‘tacoteurs,’ and a free tacotopia t-shirt. Please redeem this offer at  to on a Friday morning of your choice. Offer subject to cancellation by order of the wives of the tacoteurs.  Enter to win by emailing your name on the back of Coco.

Taco Rico – the iPad edition

4101 Greenwood Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas 78416 • 361-851-0612

How will the Apple iPad affect the breakfast taco industry? That’s the question we asked patrons and employees of Taco Rico on Greenwood. Our responses consisted mostly of “what is an iPad?” and “is this going to be together or separate?” It would appear, at least at this taco shop, that there has been little preparation for the coming of the fabled fifth screen, and employees of taco rico are ill equipped to take advantage of the remaking of the taco landscape that will inevitably follow tomorrow’s product launch.

Charles “Chepe” Martinez, longtime eater of tacos, responded to Tacotopia’s question of how he would use an iPad while ordering and eating tacos saying, “is that that kindle thing?” Representatives from Apple were unavailable for comment. Phillip Haagenschtütenvergeshtugult, who has been camped out in line for the iPad outside the Apple Store at La Cantera Mall in San Antonio for the last three days, felt the iPad would bring a sea change to taquerias. “People don’t know how much easier this will make eating tacos, but once they have a taco and an iPad together they’ll see how limitless the possibilities are,” said Haagenschtütenvergeshtugult, though he admits he isn’t purchasing the tablet primarily for use in consumption of tortilla related food.

We couldn’t find any of the technorati with advance production units in attendance at Taco Rico on Greenwood and Horne this morning, but we did find tacos. I had a chorizo and egg, and a carne guisada. The layout of Taco Rico is a bit unusual, with a cafeteria style steam table facing out into the dining area from which all the prepared fillings are dispensed into fresh tortillas plucked from a seemingly endless stack, wrapped in foil. I’ve been here a few times before, and each time the same elderly woman has manned the cash register. When asked if she planned on replacing her register with an iPad-based Point of Sale app, she offered us salsa. The salsa was verde, with a crisp and hot finish. It was good enough that it’d be hard to imagine any improvement could be made by utilizing Steven Colbert’s iPad Salsa making techniques. The tortillas, also, were very fresh and well made, with one being on the dark edge of charlie brown.

From the Hat

Oh the best-laid plans of mice and Tacotuers.  TSH had sent the self-destructing tape the day before and I was primed for a new adventure.  However the gods where having none of it.  “Closed” said the sign.  Since I had arrived early, I decided take a drive and see if the closure was a Good Friday thing.  The HiHo was chock-o-block, as was Soliz #1 so I knew we’d find a taco.  A FB fan had recently posted about Taco Rico, so I headed there.  Great minds think alike and as I pulled into the parking lot, I got the text instructing me to meet there.  I’d eaten at the “Richest Taco in Town” many, many, times.  A decade ago, it was an every-morning stop on my way to work.  I wasn’t surprised to see the same abuelita running the register.  In the day, she would add up the order and taxes on an LED calculator as they were called out by the taco-ista.  Today, she uses a cash register and she’s bent from the years.  We exchanged pleasantries, but I never caught her eye.  Not that she’d remember me after all this time.

There are two basic construction methods in taco preparation.  Some things are made ahead of time, like Carne G, or barbacoa and must be stored in some sort of warmer until served.  But other things lend themselves to be prepared at the time of order, like anything with eggs.  Taco Rico prepares everything ahead of time and keeps it in a steam tray until time to dose a tortilla.  This is not uncommon, think Laredo Taco Co, and is not necessarily a bad thing.  There is some benefit to seeing what you’re gonna get.  I generally prefer my eggs cooked for me, and me alone, mostly because I like the quest for the perfect mix of ingredients.  But the big pile of papas con chorizo looked good and the blue-collar, assembly line nature of the steam station seems to fit Taco Rico.  I thought briefly of ordering  my historical favorites, a chorizo and egg, and a carne guisada with cheese.  But the chorizo con papas looked good so I opted for them and the carne guisada (sans cheese).  Both were amply-filled with the goods.  The chorizo and potato had a sharp, vinegary chorizo flavor.  It worked well with the papas which were cooked to the perfect consistency.  With a bit of excellent salsa verde and wrapped in a very good tortilla, I snapped it up quick.  The guisada was a bit bland, but responded well to a bit of table salt and some salsa.  (I think that salsa would be good on a sneaker.)  The meat was tender and in big chunks.  There was plenty of thick gravy, but not enough to run out of the end when you take a bite.  Not a bad offering, but I think Ian will have more to say.

All in all, it was good to be back.  The humble kitchen of Taco Rico brought memories of a different life, and for that, I thank them.  I’ll return.


The chorizo & egg was less than inspiring, with very little chorizo and tasting a bit mealy but still edible. It was huge, though, and nearly crowded the other taco off the plate. The carne guisada was goldilocks, not too good, not too bad. The coffee had a touch of burn, but served its purpose – though only after it was self served from the coffee station. What this place lacks in straight up good food it makes up for in quirky atmosphere: The little old lady, the steam tray, etc… I’d swear there was a piece of sausage hanging from the ceiling behind the counter. And while Taco Rico is not the best taqueria I’ve been to, it’s worth a visit if you’re near the intersection of Horne and Greenwood, and you’re craving a taco, and you like funky little taco shops, and the taqueria you were planning on going to is closed.

Our free taco winner for this week is:

Photo Courtesy

Busty Biltwell

Corpus Christi’s own Busty Biltwell is a member of the After Dark Burlesque Review, a local group promoting arts and culture, and apparently a fan of Jean Claude Van Damme (who isn’t?). Ms. Biltwell’s ample talent has been presented most recently at the House of Rock, as well as shows in San Antonio and Austin. She brings classical grace and style to the oft maligned and under-appreciated art of moneymaker-shaking.  As is obvious from the tattoo on her thigh, she is a supporter of the Navy, and sailors everywhere. And while we don’t stock shirts that are made to accommodate her unique endowment, our jersey knit tees are stretchy. Thanks, Busty, for helping keep Corpus Christi beautiful and making infants hungry in your wake.

Offer includes 2 tacos, an audience with the ‘tacoteurs,’ and a free tacotopia t-shirt. Please redeem this offer at Whetstone Graphics on a Friday morning of your choice. Offer subject to cancellation by order of the wives of the tacoteurs.  Enter to win by emailing your name on the dvd case of a copy of JCVD to

Marroquin Tortilla Factory – Raising the Bar

2737 Greenwood Drive, Corpus Christi Texas • 361-883-7051

We met up this morning at Marroquin Tortilla Factory & Restaurant on Greenwood Drive not knowing what to expect. Greenwood has a reputation for being somewhat unsavory and a little dangerous. Some of the best places to get tacos are sometimes in the worst places to get tacos, if you know what I mean. In any case it’d been a week since my last taco and I was ready for it. The weather has finally cleared up a bit, and the sun is out. It’s cool and drying off, and for a few days (I hope) it’ll be about as nice as it ever gets here in Tacotopia.

So I was in a pretty good mood when I pulled into the nearly vacant log this morning. The Hat had already ordered coffee and the waitress came over and spoke to us in Spanish. We both ordered in our pidgin Spanish, and though no one involved spoke the other language well, we all understood each other with no problems. The waitress was very charming, making it much easier to try and speak her language.

Though the interior is neat and has been remodeled in the last few years there are indications that it is still a bit in the hood. I attended a Leadership Corpus Christi event last night that was filled with local socialites and business leaders. Joe Hilliard and I nearly crossed streams in the can at the event, and Casey Lain showed up with his radiant wife Adrianne, and you could spot them from across the hall due to their height, even seated. I’ll be checking out the Joe Ely show over at House of Rock this Saturday, and I expect I’ll see him there. It could be that they’re both tall, or that they’re both walking 5 inches off the ground. Cecil Johnson was also circulating and conversating. And while I enjoy these events, I do love to be in a place where a t-shirt is well within the dress code, and where the food is head and shoulders above the level of banquet catering.

The tacos may have taken a whopping 8 minutes to get to the table, but the coffee was good and the tacos were worth the wait. I ordered, as I do every Friday, a carne guisada and a chorizo & egg. The tortillas were good. Not the best I’ve had, but better than average, and they’d have to be considering this is a tortilla factory that wholesales to other restaurants. The carne guisada was good too, with it’s focus being more on the meat than the gravy. This carne g wasn’t cooked so much that it falls apart, it was still chewy but not in a bad way; it was chew in the way that reminds you that it’s beef. The salsa verde was excellent, among the best I’ve had, and I had to resist the urge to try and swipe a squeeze-bottle of the stuff.

And then there was the chorizo and egg. In short it was exquisite. This is a food you’d think wouldn’t vary much from place to place and mostly it doesn’t, but this stuff was out of sight. The egg and the chorizo were grouped into distinct regions such that you could take a bite and taste the chorizo and the egg as separate parts. Plus the parts were both cooked and proportioned perfectly. Add some salt and that salsa and it was satori, illumination, a moment of clarity, the realization of the potential of all human endeavor. I wondered if there was prozac or MDMA mixed in with the eggs that might account for my overwhelming state of euphoria. In fact everyone in the restaurant was smiling and giggling, and the whole scene seemed a bit unreal.

From the Hat

Tacotopia is not all fun and games.  Sure, there’s the fame and fortune, and everything that goes with that.  I thank you all.  But there’s also a fairly consistent effort in the background.  Today at Marroquin’s Tortilla Factory, Ian gave a preliminary report on a taco slinger he’d checked out during the week.  I relayed that Shell and I are going to my other favorite Texas city, Houston, this weekend and plan to catch La Mexicana.  Johnny H., recognized regional taco expert says they have chicharrones that best CC’s famed Sonny’s.  I’m from Missouri on this so a visit is a must.  (Also a must will be a visit to Udi Pi Café for Indian food.)  Shell rooted out today’s spot, Marroquin’s in her travels around the city, always a keen eye out for potential tacotourism sites.  And she hit the paydirt with this one.

Marroquin’s Taco Factory was clean and bright.  I was optimistic and curious as to whether a “Tortilla Factory” at the taqueria was as good an idea as a brewery at the bar.  (The latter an enterprise that hasn’t made it past serial failure here in the Sparkling City.)  The pied tile pattern was reminiscent of a diner but the place was all taqueria.  I ordered a barbacoa on corn and the lengua guisada with cheese and onions on flour.  Shortly I was informed that no tienen the lengua so I ordered a chicharrone guisada instead.  The chicharron taco was very good.  I was surprised to see cheese on it until I realized that they had carried it over from my failed lengua order, and I’m not sure it worked with the chicharron taco.  The texture of the chicharrones was pleasant – some bite, but not chewy at all.  The savory gravy was an interesting reddish brown color and tasted very much of chicharrones.  The flour tort was excellent.  The barbacoa taco needed salt, but once properly dosed, it was very good.  The corn tortillas were made on-site and fresh.  They were in the style of packaged tarps, but so close to the source, I had to give them a try.  It took two to wrap the barbacoa.  IMHO, the star of the show was the green salsa.  It was served in a squeeze bottle and was a green that one rarely sees.  A green so bright that it shouted, “I’m the best salsa you’ve had in a while so eat me!”  And it was right.  It had good heat, but something else that gave it a really good body and heartiness.  Maybe a bit of aguacate.  I don’t really know.  I’m definitely going to have to go back and do a bit more research.  The coffee was café good and Ian only had to bellow once at the Senorita for refill.  There was one other person there, but I’ve seen the place packed on the weekends.  If you find yourself nearby and need a taco, I recommend it.


But it was all real (I think). It was really that good. I sat speechless for a while, and when the Hat asked me if I was okay I was speechless. I made small talk to try and pull myself back down to earth, and soon enough we were both stepping back out into the gorgeous morning, ready to do battle with the work week’s last fight. I don’t want to say that this is the best C&E I’ve ever had – it could be a fluke. I sure as hell will be coming back to double check it. It may take a lot of investigation.

Our free taco winner for this week is:

Marisa Tomei

This Italian-American product of Brooklyn, NY has won and Academy Award and been nominated for two more. This makes her a member of an exclusive club of female actors who win the oscar early in their career, most of whom fail to live up to the subsequent expectations of either/neither their acting or/nor their earning potential (see Mira Sorvino). Tomei, however, has performed in better and better movies, taken on more challenging rolse, has received parts in more lucrative films, and has become more beautiful with the passing of each year.

Offer includes 2 tacos, an audience with the ‘tacoteurs,’ and a free tacotopia t-shirt. Please redeem this offer at Whetstone Graphics on a Friday morning of your choice. Offer subject to cancellation by order of the wives of the tacoteurs.  Enter to win by emailing your name and an autographed dvd of ‘Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead‘ to
Marroquin Tortilla Factory & Restaurant on Urbanspoon