El Mexicano #1 – Revisitation

(361) 289-7242 • 5650 Leopard • Corpus Christi Texas 78408

When I was a sophomore at Lanier High School in 1985 I was what you might call an outsider… or a dork, nerd, freak, geek, or any number of pejoratives I can’t write in a family friendly blog. I wanted to be liked, but I didn’t have the tools to be accepted. I had moved around my whole life and this stunted my ability to maintain relationships with people, or at least that’s what I tell myself. At some point I said ‘screw this.’ If I couldn’t join ’em, I’d beat ’em. From that point on I held the popular kids and cliques in contempt. I argued with people constantly – leveraging my advantage (a voracious appetite for information and love of language) against anyone who wasn’t as informed about politics, current events, music, and trivia. I got heavily involved in school activities, working on the school newspaper, the yearbook, the literary magazine. I rebooted the chess club, which had been dormant probably since about the time Bobby Fischer disappeared. I wore ridiculous clothes, and ridiculous hair. I hung out only with people who I thought were fellow outcasts, or intellectually superior to me. I had a crush on any girl that looked like Siouxsie Sioux, Annabella Lwin, or Elizabeth Fraser. I wrote pointed editorials in the school paper about the administration, the students, the teachers and the world.

And then a funny thing happened. People started to respect me, or in some cases hate me. Instead of mild distaste, goons would be moved to kick my ass – but others were moved to stand up for me. Teachers would play chess with me. People tried to save my soul and in the process ended up with their own faith diminished.

Once I left high school my whole outlook changed. I couldn’t keep disliking people like I had after realizing how challenging everyone’s lives were regardless of their intellect or politics. In the real world what you know doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you can do. The little territory I’d staked out for myself in my societal construct became irrelevant as I struggled to survive and make a living.

Every once in a while, though, I like to think back on those times – when I knew everything and I was master of my domain no matter how small or imaginary it was. Occasionally, here, we also like to revisit taquerias we’ve been to before. This week it’s Taqueria El Mexicano on Leopard. We reviewed it once before, but I have reasons for going back there. They’ve got great flour tortillas. Their mollejas are about perfect. Their carne guisada is some of the best in town. The chorizo & egg leaves a little to be desired. The hand-painted signage is some of the best in town. It’s on Leopard but it’s close enough to a major highway that you’re not too likely to get stabbed in the parking lot unless you’re asking for it. The interior is old and a little funky, but with an air of respectability. The drive-through window is peppered with hundreds of stickers people have left as they’ve picked up tacos on the way to work, mostly oilfield services companies and their ilk. The building has seen better days but looking at it you can almost take yourself back to a time when it was master of its domain.

Our free taco winner for this week is:

Paz de la Huerta

Paz is a hot mess. I don’t know what her issue with temperature and cameras is, but she must have one or why else would she be taking her clothes off every time someone takes a picture of her. And a mess she is, getting sloppy drunk at premieres and literally ‘hanging out’ with Courtney Love (NSFW). She’s even picked up the beating-people-up habit from Courtney, pleading out of a harassment case with some other less talented bimbo from reality tv. I can say what I want about her, but I can’t say she’s not beautiful, or that she isn’t aptly cast as one of the most interesting characters in the new, improved season 2 of Boardwalk Empire. Here’s to her and those like her, crazy chicks are a lot of fun if you can stay out of the blast radius.

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 in on the back of issue 117 of Flaunt magazine to tacos@tacotopia.net.

Feliz Amanecer

‪8151 Leopard Street, Corpus Christi, TX‬
‪(361) 241-9611‬

 This is a restaurant on Leopard. If you live here you’ve driven on this road. The Corpus end starts ‘uptown’, an area that sits on a bluff opposite downtown from the bay. This is an old road, named in the first maps made of the city. Below the bluff, leading into it one way west, is Shatzell which feeds past Coppini’s ‘Queen of the Sea’ fountain, through a 100 year old switchback and into Leopard. Follow it west and you pass through the 15-20 story “high-rises” that sit, aging and neglected but still intact. Continuing west you start to see the ghosts, the old Braslau’s Furniture building left empty by attrition, moved to what was once South Corpus, near where my mother lived as a child in the 40s and 50s in a brand new post-war house on Pennington.

Her father was a mechanic for the old Corpus Christi Post Office they tore down on Upper Broadway. My grandfather, a victim of the great depression, wouldn’t let a thing go to waste and repurposed a marble slab and trim from the restroom into a 400 pound coffee table that my family moved with us every year or so as a child as we struggled to find a place better than the one we were in before. The irony is not lost on me that I live back here in Corpus Christi, where my family left to find something more.

The Melba in the 30s and today.

Keep west and you’ll pass the bombed-out Melba theater, then a string of boarded up bars and dance halls, bail bondsmen and then across Staples you’ll see City Hall sitting across from a muffler shop and one of the city’s best (if ugliest) taquerias, Banda’s. Stay westbound, and leopard runs parallel to IH-37. It passes under the Crosstown Expressway, and onwards through the West side, past Padre Island Drive and eventually to Calallen. Amanecer is pretty far out, where most of the people dining are white with oilfield service coveralls on.

Taco places in Corpus Christi have established a baseline of quality to which other cities just can’t measure up. The cornerstone of this is the handmade tortilla, which you must have if you hope to compete. Most even serve handmade corn tortillas, but you have to ask. The prices are cheap and the tacos good, but there isn’t a lot to set many of the places apart from one another. They spring up where there is demand, and deliver basically the same tacos as the place closest to them. Feliz Amanecer is one of these places. As such I can’t tell you that it stands out, but it’s good.

What I can tell you about Feliz Amanecer is this: they’re big and neat, the service is quick and thorough, the Carne Guisada is above average and I was brought two very good salsas. Everything else is on a level with what you would expect from any self-respecting taqueria in Corpus Christi.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Mary-Louise Parker

This South Carolina belle has been acting since the 80s, starting out in soaps and eventually showing up alongside some of the biggest names in the business in productions like Bullets Over Broadway, Fried Green Tomatoes, Red Dragon, The West Wing, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and her hit Showtime series Weeds which has recently started it’s seventh season. I should mention that she was famously abandoned by epic douchebag and glowing-blue-wang-having Dr. Manhattan Billy Crudup when she was seven months pregnant. Yeah, I like Claire Danes too, but I prefer kinky-headed brunettes – and I don’t mean just curly.

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 back of a brand new MacBook Pro to tacos@tacotopia.net.


Feliz Amancecer on Urbanspoon


3942 Leopard St., Corpus Christi, Texas
6:00 am – 2:00 pm, Mon – Sat • 7:00 am – 2:00 pm Sun

I have been out of sorts lately. The work I’ve been doing is frustrating, and I’ve had many obstacles come up to impede it’s progress. Machines breaking down, employee drama, scheduling problems, and on and on. That’s why it’s called work.  I have moved back and forth between working long hours and taking brief trips into the heaven of my wife’s great cooking, and perhaps a little irish whiskey now and then. I have, in fact, been so busy that I’ve been unable to put together a post for a while. The Hat has been picking up the slack. It’s not for lack of trying, though. I’ve been to one taqueria in particular three times trying to put together a post, but it hasn’t materialized yet.

Lila's Juevos Ahogados

I did, though, have a little time this morning to get my taco on so the Hat, his better half, and myself all converged near the Saxet Hall on Leopard this morning. Saxet is Texas spelled backwards for those who don’t know. It’s a tough little shopping center that has seen better days but is still kicking. The hall bears witness to the Hurricane Alley Roller Derby about every month. It also hosts countless quinceañeras, to which I have dropped off my stepson many times. Some of these quinces have bikers working security so there’s little to worry about in this neighborhood. Not your weekend bikers either, but bikers who couldn’t hide their colors if they wanted to, and they don’t want to.

The first thing we tasted was the coffee – which was a good deal stronger than most. The lady bringing out the coffee was Lila herself, the namesake of the restaurant. She was polite and dignified with perfect english. Hold on – before you get bent about that last bit – let me explain. I don’t assume she speaks Spanish, I know because she was cracking the whips with the other waitress and the kitchen crew in Spanish. I would guess this was her first language, and when people live in a country where they have to speak in a foreign tongue much of the time  they usually end up in one of three groups. The first is people who have a thick accent whose speech never grows closer to that of the host country (think of the governator). The second are people who assimilate perfectly into the host country so that by listening they could only be identified as non-native by a finely tuned ear. The third group are people who are able to speak as well if not better than the locals, but choose to retain a flavor of their first language out of respect for their own culture. Lila falls into the third group.

I ordered a chorizo & egg, and a carne guisada. Lila brought them out and they looked pretty typical of the taquerias in the area. The tortillas were the star of the meal, both flour and corn on a level with the best in town. The salsa, too, was distinctive: very hot, and pretty fresh. The carne guisada was subtle but good. The chorizo & egg was sharp and delicious, bringing me back to the first time I tried C&E as a child. It tastes exactly how it’s supposed to. I’ve had better, but not very often.

I asked Lila how long they’d been there, and she said 12 years – but that’s after 5 years as another location. Cesar, the co-owner was there too, dressed in a uniform shirt for another job. Do yourself a favor, like the numerous police who were eating there this morning, and drop in for a taco. You won’t be sorry. Watch the parking lot though, it’s hungry too, for cars.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Aria Giovanni

Aria Giovanni is one of the three most beautiful women in the world. Period. The other two are Salma Hayek, and my wife. I’m not going to reveal what order they’re in but you should note they all have black hair and brown skin, and they all have curves. If you look up cleavage in wikipedia, they have a picture of Ms. Giovanni. A compelling argument for blended marriage, she is Italian Yugoslavian French German Irish and Native American. Aria is a model, meaning she’s pretty much hot for a living.  She was briefly married to Marilyn Manson guitarist John 5. This makes him barely the winner of the ‘I divorced the hottest pinup girl in the world’ contest he had with Marilyn Manson himself who divorced Dita von Teese. A frequent guest at comic book conventions, she has served as a surrogate imaginary girlfriend for a generation of nerdcore fanboys. Be careful for the NSFW if you google her.

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 back of the September 2000 issue of Penthouse to tacos@tacotopia.net.