Tapatia #2 – Do Over

5212 Weber Road, Corpus Christi, Texas • 361-852-6272 • www.taquerialatapatia.net
Chorizo & Egg $1.49 • Carne Guisada $1.79 • Bottomless Coffee $1.25

Everyone deserves a second chance. La Tapatia #2 got a bad review a year ago due to some bad onions, and I wanted to revisit this place to see if the onions were an indicator of a more serious problem or just a fluke. Four of us converged this morning to get to the bottom of it, and in doing so we left unsure of what to think.

I arrived first, and seated myself in one of the aged brown vinyl button upholstered booths. It was surely intended to look old when it was new, but after 20 or 30 years of wear by derriere the booths here look like I might have seen them in someone’s yard on Hoarders. Also, there’s a hole in the drop ceiling surrounded by rusting trim; evidence of years of leakage. I have a similar situation to deal with at my business, and I know how hard it is to get a flat roof fixed. I parked in the corner so I could see any attackers coming, and had good coffee inside 60 seconds.One of the waitresses was singing to herself behind the counter until regulars showed up, speaking tex-mex in a familiar fashion with her.

The rest of the crew filed in, and we ordered. As our food arrived we all eyed it with some suspicion. I had no onions on my two tacos, but the Hat got barbacoa on corn con cebollas y cilantro and we all examined the chopped onions. They looked harmless, but it’s hard to tell from a chopped onion. They weren’t as translucent as you’d think they would be if they’d gone over. The Hat fearlessly took a big bite and after a few seconds of considered mastication gave us the thumbs up.

I started in on my tacos, served up on excellent handmade flour tortillas in the double D formation. On the left we have the staple of breakfast tacos – the chorizo & egg. The c&e was serviceable. Not the best I’ve had, but better than many. To the right was the carne guisada, technically not a breakfast taco. While it’s usually found on the lunch/dinner section of the menu, I find it is a good litmus test of the quality of the taqueria, and it’s usually delicious. This carne g in particular was much less soupy than most. It’d be hard to say if it was intentional, or if it had just sat in the steam tray for too long, but the extra toothiness complemented the beef.

There was one thing about the meal that left us confused – the salsa. It had a tangy flavor, and smelled like a bowl of salad left in the sink for a few days. I bought a refrigerated salsa back in the early 90s from HEB’s Central Market around 35th street in Austin that was fresh and filled with cilantro and onions. Then one day I got a jar that had gone sour, and I realized this after I had chewed and swallowed a big heaping chip of it.  I could never eat that salsa again without tasting it. This salsa had a flavor reminiscent of that, but I have heard of lacto-fermented salsa. Perhaps this is how it was supposed to taste. It did have some nice heat, and it wasn’t so bad that I didn’t put it on both of my tacos.

In the end we don’t know if there’s a freshness problem here. Maybe in another year we’ll come back and do a third sampling (and ask them). Then again, maybe not.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Elizabeth Hurley

Perhaps you remember her from Austin Powers or Bedazzled. Maybe you saw her representing Estée Lauder. You might recall her from the scandal with her stupid ex-husband and a certain ‘professional’. She weathered the press and humiliation, not divorcing Grant until 2000 – 5 years after the incident. She was given away at her wedding to Arun Nayar by Elton John. If I were Hugh, I’d be sorry if I saw her in this sari.

Offer includes 2 tacos, an audience with the ‘tacoteurs,’ and a free tacotopia t-shirt. Please redeem this offer at  to tacos@tacotopia.net. 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 dvd of ‘Aria

La Tapatia #2 – You’re Going Over Where?


La Tapatia #2
(361) 852-6272
5212 Weber Rd
Corpus Christi, TX 78411


Chorizo & Egg – $1.39
Carne Guisada – $1.59
Bottomless Coffee – $1.25

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This place appeared spontaneously in a google maps search for another taqueria and we thought it too serendipitous to ignore.  We may yet regret the decision – we’ll see how our stomachs fare as the day progresses. The interior was resplendent in 70s leather and green-brown button upholstery.  We really expected it might be a treasure with such a nice space to eat, clean and fresh.

The tacos were okay, at least mine were.  I make a point of salsa being the only vegetable I consume on these taco runs, and you’d think the meat would be more likely to go south but today there was a pox on vegetables.  The salsa was incredibly hot, but not hot enough to mask a little tang – like it had been sitting at room temperature for a few too many hours, or days.  Not inedible but still a failure. The tortillas were sturdy but fresh.  The Carne Guisada was very meaty and plentiful with a dark brown sauce that Goldilocks would have been satisfied with.  Not too soupy, not too thick. The Chorizo & Egg was passable, but less than great.  The coffee was good, and the service was vigilant if somewhat uncomprehending.
I am hesitant to judge La Tapatia #2 just from just this visit, but that’s what I do.  I might come back in the evening and give it another stab but I don’t know that in a town with as many great taquerias as Corpus Christi I’d recommend it to someone looking for a good taquito.


From the Hat

You have to love this weather.  For those of you not in la gran ciudad de Corpus Christi, I walked outside this morning into one of our six cool days of the typical year.  I’m betting on El Nino to give us a colder, wetter, winter this year…and that’s alright by me.  Granted, the north wind does bring whiffs of refinery sometimes.  Odorous vapors resultant from a myriad complicated processes – each contributing in some way to the fuel, or plastic, or chemicals that make it possible for me to get from taqueria to taqueria.   For the most part, I’m okay with it as long as it doesn’t happen all the time.

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away my brother and I would spend the summers in Yorktown, Texas with our grandparents.  We lived in San Marcos, Texas and the trek to Yorktown would take us through Smiley, Stairtown and Nopal.  (A very few in the know will remember Salute Island.)  Anyway, to make a long story even longer and more tedious, these towns smelled of OIL.  And now that smell of OIL takes me back to those summer days of carefree play – watching Roy Rogers and Tarzan movies on Saturday television, capturing Horned Lizards, swimming at the Yorktown Country Club Pool.  The best of times.

Once, as we left Yorktown, we stopped at the Texas Stop Sign to get something to eat, including fries.  Something about the fries, or the grease they were cooked in had turned the corner and was on the way out to pasture.  One bite was enough, and too much.  Needless to say it was a miserable couple of hours in the car.  Two or three times since then, I’ve tasted that taste.  It is like a warning that screams, “Do Not Eat This.”  No matter what Weird Al says.  The memory that comes with this taste, of a hot car cramped with people with cramps is not near pleasant.

So what does this have to do with tacos?  Tacotopia is a service to those who seek taco goodness.  We volunteer our time and waistlines in the pursuit of taco-knowledge, hoping in some small way to help others in their own taco spirit walk.  (And to rationalize our Friday taco consumption.)  Today, we went the extra mile.  Taqueria la Tapatia on Weber looked and smelled promising.  It was brightly-lit and colorful.  I had a Lengua and a Barbacoa, los dos con cebolla y cilantro.  (Am I in a rut, Ian?)  I ordered them on corn and they were served on flour.  An apologetic waitress brought a corn tarp on the side.  She was the bright spot in the restaurant.  The barbacoa was bland, as was the lengua.  The blandness was a perfect complement to the onions-gone-bad.  I would have covered the blue onions with salsa, in this case the hottest we’ve encountered so far, but it too had the wicked onion.  It was like someone had squeezed a sour dishrag into my taco.  The flour tort was pretty good.  I scraped off the offensive onions and moved the barbacoa over to the tough and kind of dry corn tortilla.  To no avail.  This onion has officially made my list of warning tastes.

I was not able to finish my tacos.

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