3302 Leopard St, Corpus Christi, Texas 78408
We gather together today to discuss a restaurant on Leopard Street. Look up above at the photo and you’ll notice two signs say Torres De Jalisco, and another sign says Feliz Am Lunch Special. I occasionally make signs in my business (insert whetstone graphics plug here) and I’m a tacoteur, so I’ve had my eye on my place for a while now. It was a little beat up restaurant called Feliz Amanecer.
About a year ago I noticed they were redoing their sign. As someone who is always excited by activity on the taco scene I was intrigued. A year later and they’ve changed their name, presumably their owner, and that sign was never finished. The Hat actually suggested this place to me, noting there was a flower painted over a crack on the plate glass window. Classic.
This may not be the ideal way for this restaurant to reinvent itself, but everyone has to work with whatever is available to them. Apple was on the brink of collapse in the mid 90′s before Steve Jobs came back to oversee the most amazing corporate reinvention in history, and in the process reinvented the music marketplace and the phone. It only took him one liver and half a pancreas, and an applecart full of black mock turtlenecks.
There are others who seek to reinvent themselves. Madonna has reinvented herself so many times that she’s ended up looking like the only thing she hasn’t been before – a surly longshoreman in drag. There are others who reinvent themselves with the help of a third party: Woody Allen via Soon-Yi Previn, Lance Armstrong via Michele Ferrari, Mickey Rourke via Darren Aronofsky, and Britney Spears via Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson has done some reinventing of himself lately, or perhaps he’s just let us see behind the curtain, or he’s trying to reinvent douchebaggery.
So we met up at the joint and got out taco on. While it looks pretty bad on the outside, it’s only kinda bad on the inside. The carpet looks like it’s been on the slab in a quick-lube for the last 10 years, but the tables were clean and well appointed and with the big windows there was a bright and lively ambience.
I ordered the usual – a carne guisada and a chorizo & egg. Here’s the rundown: the C&E was bland and light on the C, the C&G was average, the coffee was fair. The service was quick. The salsas were great. The tortillas were handmade but on the low end of the scale for handmade tortillas. A handmade tortilla is always better than a shelf tortilla, but we can do better in Tacotopia.
The experience altogether, in spite of the less-than-stellar fare, was quite pleasant. As always there was good company, and I do love the end of the week with a side of tacos even if the weekend will only be more work but without customers. I am a fan of the aesthetic of the underdog. I like my celebrities slightly flawed. I like my movies dark. I like Corpus Christi because of the tragic beauty of leopard and downtown, not in spite of it. As such I like looking out on the gritty early morning on Leopard, one of the most used up streets in the city. For tacos, you could do better (in Tacotopia that is) but it was not a bad experience. All the elements were there. Fresh hot tortillas, good service, great salsa, an interesting view. Maybe after the new staff doesn’t clean the kitchen for a few months the fillings will have a little more flavor.
From the Hat
Here it is Jim! It’s all my fault. I’m sure that Taco Show Host has his weekly contribution to that Grand Idea that is Tacotopia in the can. Waiting…impatiently…for Tacotopia to hit the presses. Well, I’m to blame. I’d like to say that I’m late ‘cause I had to go sign for my Lotto winnings up in Austin but if that really happened, Taco Blanca and I would just disappear. Or maybe I was on the phone because Alton Brown had a question about frying a turkey. But no, I was working…Like everyone else I know.
This is where I’d wax poetic if I had a poetic bone in my body – some sparse sprinkling of sap that would convey my state of being, but still be about tacos. Not the easiest thing to do sometimes. The weekly Tacotopia gig is a down-home, good-time, relaxification and I dig it. It’s Sanctum Sanctorm in life. That sparkle of Yin in the Eye of Yang that spices up the end of the week – this week better than others as we were graced by the presence of Taco Blanca. I know this is a taco blog, but it’s worth mentioning that her $3.00 Migas a la Mexicana must have been 3 eggs with serious homemade corn tortillas and beans. She seemed to savor it like it was the real deal.
I on the other hand ordered tacos, as is a Tacoteur’s responsibility. A nopalitos con huevos on flour, and a barbeque on corn. Now I must say up front, my taste buds were configured for barbeque – brisket. I got barbacoa con cilantro y cebollas. Nopalitos and egg tacos are the most misunderstood of all tacos. Even most purveyors of the prickly pear guide you towards an “a la Mexicana”. But to truly appreciate the cactus taco, you have to meet it head on – well, with eggs. This taco was mostly good. Not a resounding “Good!”, but not bad. The nopalitos egg combination worked, the pickled pads were plentiful and spiced with a good heat. There were plenty of eggs, but the tarp was doughy. Definitely an anchor in the ensemble. The barbacoa was Tacotopia average. The barbacoa you can get at most taquerias in town. And again, my tort was poorly executed. Corn, okay, kinda like pizza and … But this was not exciting. Both tacos were aided immensely by addition of salsa. Torres de Jalisco had two very good salsas. The rich red was robust and fresh with onion, garlic and tomato. Just enough pico to announce its presence. But the green was delicious. Fresh pepper and spices, that made themselves known with a vigor. The tacos would have been seriously dissed without one or the other. But tacos are a blend, best when all parts contribute to the fullest to sate the appetite. The service was excellent and the coffee was good, so I enjoyed the experience. Could be I’m just disappointed that the newest taqueria within walking distance from my house is not a home run. I’ll give ‘em another chance.
In following weeks Tacotopia will be reinventing itself, to some extent. Expect a different look, and a slightly different format. I may be diverging from my standard two tacos and branch out. Lets face it, how many times can you describe chorizo & egg and carne guisada before the reader stops giving a shit? And while Tacotopia is little more than an excuse to eat tacos on Fridays, and to gloat to the rest of the world about how much better our tacos are than theirs, it wouldn’t be anything without you. So if you, as a fellow taco enthusiast, have any suggestions as to how we can make the site better please let us know at email@example.com.
Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:
One more reason to wish you were Eddie Van Halen back in the day, Valerie Bertinelli was the ultimate rocker chick back when the couple shared hair products. Now that she’s reinvented herself she’s one more reason to be glad you’re not Eddie Van Halen. Hats off for proving rocker chicks aren’t all blonde, and don’t all have to make sex tapes.
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 Complete First Season for One Day at a Time to firstname.lastname@example.org.