Taqueria Mi Ranchito – New Year’s Revolution

418 US Highway 181 • Taft, TX 78390

It’s the end of 2012. Fortunately for us, it’s not the end of the world, despite the confused folks who’d gathered at the Pyrenees on the 20th. That’s the good news. The bad news, is now we have to deal with the real world, and the problems we have to look forward to now that it looks like we’ll survive the end of the cycle of the Mayan calendar. Personally, I prefer to believe in the Aztec calendar art of Jesus Helguera. And while there are real, tough issues we have to deal with in the coming year, as a city, as a nation, and certainly for me personally, I look forward to it. I think 2013 is going to be a good year. I hope so, ’cause 2012 was a bitch.

Mi-Ranchito-TacosAnd while there was considerable difficulty in the past year, I can always take comfort in the ultimate comfort food: Tacos. This morning I had my regular – a Carne Guisada and a Chorizo and Egg – at Taqueria Mi Ranchito in Taft. I had business to take care of in Sinton, and I was glad to take some comfort after that. The place is old, beat-up, and worse-for wear. As Tom Waits put it in his song, ‘Small Change,’ “Cause the dreams aren’t broken here, no, they’re just walking with a limp.” My waiter could barely understand my order in English, and less so in Spanish – as bad as my Spanish is, but it came to the table in about two minutes, steaming hot. Everything was pretty good. The carne guisada was good, with the stew meat cooked to tenderness, and good homemade flour tortillas (the corn was quite good too). The chorizo and egg was nice, with a good stream of red gravy (read grease) steadily escaping the back of my taco as I ate. Both tacos were slightly larger than average, and the fresh coffee kept coming. The people in the small-town eatery all seemed to know each other, and treated each other like one big family, greeting one another as they came and left in Spanglish. It was a real, un-coaxed expression of the holiday spirit of family we all hear so much about this time of year. I prefer a place with a little character to a place that’s new and sterile, and this place was certainly not that. I’ll stop in again next time I’m up Taft way and need a taco, or a warm feeling.

MI Ranchito Cafe on Urbanspoon

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:


Morena-Baccarin-Wins-Taco-AwardMorena Baccarin


If you’ve watched Firefly, you no doubt share Captain Mal’s burning attraction for the ship’s ‘Companion’ Inara. Malcom hides his love for her, but I will proclaim mine. She’s a transcendent beauty. Hailing from Rio de Janeiro, Morena moved to New York at 10, where she went to PS 41 with her castmate in Homeland, Claire Danes. She is a living argument for people of Brazilian and Italian descent, for Science Fiction, and for girls with short hair (Long Live Short Hair), and perhaps for sheer fabrics, as you see to the right.

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 bootleg copy of the pilot of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to tacos@tacotopia.net.

San Luis – New Blood, Old West

410 Highway 181 • Gregory, Texas • 361-643-5717
Mon-Sat 6am–8pm • Sun 7am–3pm

New restaurants serve food that can be misleading. It’s like when a guy first goes on a date with a girl (or vice versa). He puts his best foot forward, dresses nice, shaves, makes sure he doesn’t smell, and tries to fool her into thinking he’s not an animal. She sometimes pretends to be fooled. It’s a game we play, a protocol, a dance, until interface has been established. Until they know who the other is, and how to communicate and what to expect. Eventually the dance turns into routine. Routine is comfortable, though not exciting. With people this means each knows what they contribute, and does that in an efficient way. Things get taken care of, and a foundation of memory is built.

It’s the same with a restaurant. San Luis in Gregory is brand new, with a grand opening banner flapping in the parking lot. The smells of musty ceiling tiles, grease, and years of great food haven’t had time to season the place yet. The staff is still working out responsibilities, and everyone is on their best behavior. Their food may be different a year from now, but I couldn’t wait to try this spot with the storied name of San Luis, so close to my house in Portland, and it didn’t disappoint as it’s brother in Corpus Christi has. The place is a steel building, and the interior walls are finished out with varnished pine, floor to ceiling. It is cavernous, with an adjoining bar and a drive-through. The obligatory photos of Pancho Villa hang next to garish flat screens showing not Univision, but Kelly Ripa. Spanish and English were both spoken by the staff, depending on the complexion of the table. The common thread holding together the theme of the place seems to be the cowboy myth, alive and well here minus the cows. It wouldn’t surprise me to show up one night and find the tables moved to make way for a dance floor, and locals two-stepping in creased, starched jeans and cowboy boots.

I ordered a chorizo and egg, and a carne guisada. The chorizo and egg was fair, heavy on the egg and light on the chorizo. The carne guisada was good, and the meat was choice and fresh. The gravy had a bit of a black-pepper finish. The tortillas were bigger than average and couldn’t have been made too long before they hit my plate. They were substantial, fresh enough to be soft, but heavy enough to defy their contents to escape, including drippings. The coffee was the weak spot, literally, but served its purpose, and the salsa was better than most, a color hard to make out in the dim lights, greenish-red, thick and too fresh to have had time to separate into clumps of pepper and spicy water.

The other taco places directly North of the Nueces Bay Causeway leave a little to be desired, and this place is new blood – but I think it may even be better than that. It may be able to compete with places in Corpus Christi proper. I’ll know better after we get to know each other better.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Anna Gunn

Not a lot can be gleaned on the interwebs about Anna Gunn. She’s from Santa Fe, she’s done stage work, she is 43 and she’s smoking hot. Other than that, one could infer she’s a private person. That’s all I’ve got, but she’s the main reason Walter White does what he does in AMC‘s Breaking Bad, which premieres its new season July 15th.

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 an eightball of blue sky to tacos@tacotopia.net.

Y’all can go to hell, I’m going to Los Altos

(361) 442-2618 • 3310 S Port Ave • Corpus Christi, TX 78415

Summer cut in line in front of spring this year, and the wind and rain are scrambling to keep up. It’s an election year, so there are a lot of issues in the news that you won’t hear about for another four years. Right now, the issue of gay marriage is stealing the spotlight – just as any self-respecting diva would. North Carolina, where some of my family lives, just outlawed gay marriage – with conservatives fighting back against a perceived war on marriage. This from a political viewpoint whose shining lights are all divorced, adulterous, and or closeted. Okay, not all of them – but the hypocrisy hangs around the people fighting this battle like a cheap suit. It doesn’t fit, it looks ridiculous, and it won’t last through the season.

Finely blended salsa

Both sides of the political fence are playing politics with this issue right now, but one side is clearly right, and one side is clearly wrong. ‘But Leviticus 18:22’ you say? ‘ If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.’ Really? I’m going to steal an argument from Dan Savage, who helped redefine the name Santorum: If Leviticus 18:22 is so important that you have to deny people equal treatment, why do you not adhere so to the rest of the rules laid out in the bible, instead of picking just the ones that agree with your particular prejudices and peccadilloes. A lot of laws laid out in the bible are pretty insane, if you care to look at it rationally. Blind people can’t go to church, or people with flat noses, or the lame (Leviticus 21:17-18). If you lose a testicle to cancer, you can’t go to church (Deuteronomy 23:1). Brats should be hit with rocks (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). According to Leviticus 19:19, American Apparel is evil because they make 50/50 poly/cotton shirts.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the bible is bad, or even that it isn’t divinely inspired. Just that people with an agenda shouldn’t use it inconsitently to justify their agenda. If you hate fags, you’re entitled to be that kind of asshole. This is the U S of A! We fight to defend your right to be a jerk if you want. It doesn’t mean you’re not a jerk, and you should not delude yourself into believing you have a moral leg to stand on.

The parts of the bible with which I can’t abide, though, are the rules about food. I like pork, but Leviticus 11:7-8 says it’s not kosher. God wouldn’t have made bacon if we weren’t supposed to eat it. And shellfish? Leviticus 11:10 says it’s detestable. I think Leviticus was selfish to deny us shellfish. Maybe I’m going to hell because I like chicharrones, but I like to think I’m going to heaven, and that they will have tacos & gay marriages, and maybe even some Slayer to listen to. If not, it’ll probably be wherever I’m headed.

On Port there’s a new taqueria, where the old Guadalajara was. They’ve completely remodeled, even going so far as to pour new concrete in the drive-thru. The service is good, and the food is really good. The salsa isn’t watery, and the tortillas are fresh. Their nopalito & egg taco is heavenly, and their carne guisada is rich and meaty. Thank God for good food.

The Taco Award Winner will return with the next installment, when we’re not talking about God.