Jalisco #9 – The Jalisco Pilgrimage Begins

6301 IH-37, Corpus Christi, TX 78409 • (361) 299-1121
Chorizo & Egg $1.49 • Carne Guisada $1.89 • Bottomless Coffee $1.10

I started writing this entry this morning and ended up with a 750 word screed against partisanship and the two party system. While it is important to me to keep myself at a distance from the lascivious nastiness of politics it is also nearly impossible. It is very much like compulsive overeating. I can’t continue to eat like my brain chemistry tells my I should, but I can’t quit entirely without dying. I will try to keep it to a minimum here in the blog. If you want to read the redacted post, go to www.ianokeefe.com.

If you’re here for taco talk, I can give that to you too. The way I do this blog is very hush-hush. I don’t tell the people at the restaurants that I’m a blogger. I don’t want to skew the quality or service of the establishments by alerting the taquerias to my presence. I come in cold, order, pull out my huge camera, and get out before anyone is the wiser. I’m on a mission to try all the Jaliscos in the area. Jalisco #9 is up IH-37, in the heart of refinery row. From my booth I could see a plum of fire escaping a flare stack. What I’ve been told is that whenever you can see the flame, something is out of whack with the refining process. No matter, I live here, in for a penny, in for a pound.

I ordered my usual, a carne guisada and a chorizo & egg. In the time it took to walk to the kitchen and back I had two tacos. The tortillas weren’t made to order, I’d guess not even on site, but were fresh. The carne guisada was not so good, with some chunks less fresh than others – which makes the whole thing taste funky. The chorizo & egg was pretty good if light on the chorizo. The salsa was a ranchera, and provided some salvation to the arthritic guisada and a welcome boost to the chorizo & egg. The coffee was excellent, and was frequently refilled by the two pretty waitresses.

It’s not the best taqueria in Corpus Christi, or even the best Jalisco, but I walked away satisfied.

Our free taco winner for this week is:

Sara Ramirez

Born in Mazatlan, Mexico, Sara Ramirez moved to San Diego, then to NYC where she graduated from Juilliard. She’s Mexican with a little Irish in her, which is a pretty beautiful combination. My wife is a big fan of Grey’s Anatomy. While it’s not the first show I pick to watch, it is one of the few shows that she and I both like. One thing I like about it is Sara Ramirez who plays Dr. Callie Torres. In any sensible world Ramirez wouldn’t be considered plus sized, but we live in a world controlled by morons, and this is especially so in entertainment media. Plus size or not, Sara is hot, with her sultry arched eyebrows and her curvaceous figure. I’ll watch all the wife-friendly tv in the world if Sara Ramirez is in it.

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 a bootleg copy of Spamalot to tacos@tacotopia.net.


Ruchi’s Taqueria – An Embarrassment of Ruchi’s

5201 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77056 • 713-621-3088

There’s a lot going on this weekend in Corpus Christi. There’s the Greek Festival starting tonight. There’s one of the greatest movies the Coen Bros have made playing in one of the greatest settings in which you could watch it – At the Ride-In Theater at the Water Gardens in front of the Art Museum. There’s the First Friday Artwalk which is always awesome. I hear people talk about how there’s nothing to do in Corpus Christi, I’d argue there’s too much to do for this overweight middle aged tacoteur. The coolest thing happening this weekend by far, though, is the airing at 9:00PM CST of the Corpus Christi episode of Hairy Bikers which features yours truly and my trusty cohort pointing these professional eaters at some of the best tacos in the world. Sure, it’s not Ken Burns’ Civil War, but it’s a fun, unpretentious show that deals with something we can all get behind – local eats.

Houston sunrise from the Taco Suite at the JW Mariott

It is, however, the Civil War that has drawn me away from the vibrant nucleus of activity that is Corpus Christi to attend the exhibition Discovering the Civil War at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I couldn’t come to H-Town without trying some of their tacos. I Urbanspooned up a nearby taqueria with an 80+ rating that serves breakfast and cruised over with my wife and in-laws in tow. Ruchi’s has numerous restaurants around the Houston area, but I can’t quite figure out why. I suppose I’m accustomed to a higher level of tacotude living in Tacotopia, but this place was a real disappointment. The waitress was pretty, but irritable. She grudgingly brought out our cold coffee, and eventually took our order. Chips and two salsas were brought out, thankfully, to keep us company while we waited for the food – which was serving an extended sentence in the kitchen. The ranchera salsa was tasty, as was the avocado fireball which packed some spice – but both tasted more like something that came out of a jar of dip you’d get in the chip section of the HEB than from an abuelita’s cocina. When we finally got our food, the tortillas were reheated shelf tortillas. The chorizo & egg was not bad. The carne guisada might have been Dinty Moore Beef Stew but the meat was a little too chewy for this to be the case. With some expert negotions en español by my father-in-law we secured a second cup of coffee. I’m usually good for 4 or 5, but at this rate we’d have to stay there all 24 hours this place is open to get that many refills. It was even hard to get her to bring us the check, if that gives you any clue as to the quality of the service.

I like Houston. I don’t think of it as a soulless pastiche of freeways, slums, and high-rises as do many of my friends. I think it’s a world-class city, but all the tacos I’ve had here are strictly bush league. Of all the things I wish I could be doing in Corpus this weekend, the one that brought a single tear of despair to my eye as I waited in vain for that 2nd refill of my coffee-thimble was a plate of tacos with steaming fresh tortillas as delicate as new snow. If anyone knows of a taco spot in this town that can compete please let me know about it.

Our free taco winner for this week is:

Ana Ortiz

You’ll recognize her as Hilda from Ugly Betty, or more recently, as the best kind of police brutality in HBO’s Hung. A dancer who couldn’t stay en pointe, Ana has a dancer’s grace, and a borricua’s mouth. She’s got those little dimples underneath her mouth that say ‘I can chew you up and spit you out.’ Born in 1971 she grew up in NYC and Philly, half Puerto-Rican and half Irish. It’s hard to believe that someone who you could bounce quarters off of is also a baby factory, currently pregnant with her 2nd child. For those about to drop, we salute you.

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 Ana’s discarded holster to tacos@tacotopia.net.

Los Laureles

2754 Port Ave • Corpus Christi, Texas • 361-884-7010

Los Laureles is a little old cinder block building on Port. You can drive down Port on any given Saturday morning and you will likely find at least one new taqueria, or taco trailer. This is not tourist food, it it intensely local. So much so that I, the taco show host, with my intimate knowledge of the breakfast taco world, often feel profoundly caucasian with my pronounced arctic complexion and rudimentary Spanish.

A few months ago a took a drive down Port and made a list of new places to try out. Then a few weeks ago I was contacted by the catering manager for a touring country solo act whose name rhymes with Tim McGraw and called upon for assistance in finding a taco truck. Sure enough, I did find a few trailers, and one of them was on Port (though they expressed no interest in working a private event). In all this, I had noticed Los Laureles sitting humbly, and set out to pry loose its secrets.

I ordered a chorizo and egg, and a carne guisada, both on flour. The tacos came out before long and I went about tasting them. The chorizo & egg was good, and greasy. Some people don’t appreciate the grease but I do, depending on the grease. This was bright red and flowed out the back of the taco like a garden hose in spite of my pinching off the end. The napkins began to come in to play at this point. The carne guisada was like a burlesque performer: a little fat around the edges and more delicious than what is held out by the mainstream as ideal. It was fantastic. I got two different salsas. The red was nearly tasteless until it contacts air at which point it gets dusky and fiery. The green, on the other hand, entered with fanfare and stole the show. Both were really good, as were the flour tortillas.

The waitresses were cute, and not to be trifled with. The coffee came quickly in an impossibly small cup. I was the only guerro there, and crews of mexicanos were joking with each other before their day’s work while eating and reading the paper. This place gives off the feel of a restaurant that is steady, and not going anywhere, like Bill H, the guy downtown who drives the little vacuum cart. There’s nothing you could throw at him that he can’t handle, and then not bother to talk about with his crew at Cheers. If we could all only have that kind of conviction. I’ll be back to this place with friends in tow.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Carla Gugino

Carla Gugino is a chameleon, playing old and young, modern and retro, light and tragic. She was the redemption of Watchmen as Silk Spectre the elder though she was just seven years older than Malin Ackerman who played her daughter. You can see her in theaters now in Sucker Punch. She is a regular on Californication, as well as Entourage, Spin City (as well as R. Rodriguez‘s Sin City), Chicago Hope, and the show she led, Karen Cisco.  She has aslo been in American Gangster, This Boy’s Life… the list goes on. She’s just a little younger and a little hotter than the girl I confused her for at first, Rachel Weisz, who is hot enough herself to trigger smoke alarms, but there’s no mistaking Carla for long.

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 Box Set of Battlestar Galactica to tacos@tacotopia.net.