Yoli’s – Bald Ag Round 2

4217 Agnes, Corpus Christi, Texas • 361-888-8852
Chorizo & Egg $1.30 • Carne Guisada $2.00 • Bottomless Coffee $1.35

Part two of our Baldwin/Agnes Taco series, The Bald-Ag Taco Frag, takes us to Yoli’s. Our goal with this series is to judge the best taco shop in a number of neighborhoods, and then to pit the winners against each other. This is not the first Yoli’s we’ve been to: there’s one on Kostoryz where we stopped during the Spam Marathon. It is, however, the first full review of a Yoli’s.

While Corpus Christi has a lot of taquerias There are certain areas in Corpus Christi that have a lot of them close together, like mushrooms. Here at Tacotopia we’ve often wondered why this is. Some of these clusters aren’t even located in places where there would seem to be reason for exceptional patronage and yet they exist. Agnes, if you aren’t familiar with it, is a street that runs from downtown all the way out to Robbstown. Much of it is industrial, home to steel vendors, muffler shops, salvage yards, and abandoned buildings.

As you can see in the 1962 ad Mexican food has been a part of Agnes since restaurants advertised air conditioning and the phone number prefixes started with letters. These restaurants seem to pull in a lot of oilfield workers, but what restaurant in Corpus doesn’t I guess.

Brian had the table staked out when I showed up, and we commenced our warmup for the eating. This consists of some sitting exercises, stretching, and about 45 seconds of cardio. Before long the Hat showed up with Shell in tow, and we ordered.

The food, altogether was okay. Not great, not as good as El Charro from Last week. My carne g was serviceable, The chorizo & egg fair. Flour tortillas were good, and the salsa was bad. There was nothing really that I could put my finger on that set this place apart, though compared to most mexican restaurants I’d eaten at before I moved to Corpus Christi it’d be among the better.

The nicest thing about this place, I’d say, is the hand painted signage. They were also on the spot with fresh coffee any time our cups were low, and we must have put away two pots between the four of us. The environment was conducive to discussion and we talked about plumbing, cars, foundation repair (both literal and figurative), triumph and tragedy.

Next week we continue our spotlight on the Bald-Ag taco cluster. Tune in! Turn on! Taco out!

From The Hat

It’s been a rainy, windy week in Tacotopia, and I have to tell you, I’m ready for a taco. Today is the second installment of the BaldAg Taco Frag and we’re convening at the Yoli’s on Agnes. The Taco Show Host was early. I wondered immediately what we in for when I saw that TSH was driving the RV. Was he thinking that the taco-throwdown-about-to-go-down was going to wipe him out so that he would need to sleep it of on the parking lot?  Or had he been there all night to get the jump on his Carne-G?  I worried. I put my worries aside once inside where Shelly and I found TSH and Brian W., another taco aficionado deep into their coffee, yacking about recent manly exploits I’m sure. But the conversation ended like it had been doused by a bucket of ice water when we sat down.

Yoli’s is an attractive restaurant. Fresh paint, nice signage (IMHO anyway – I’ll leave the expert judgment to the experts). There was a pleasant mélange of aromas wafting from the kitchen – breakfast tacos at this time of day, no doubt, but the menu was extensive.  As I worked my way through the taco listing, I noticed that Yoli’s served mollejas and barbacoa. You might remember that I kicked off the BaldAg Taco Frag with these two tacos and I figured I’d order the same again. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Maybe I was trying to relive last week’s exceptional mollejas taco (The best I’ve ever had), but I promised myself that I would not let past performance prejudice my palate. I ordered both con cebollas y cilantro on flour as Yoli’s doesn’t have homemade corn torts. The tacos arrived in foil and we set to opening them like kids at Christmas. First to the mollejas. The mollejas taco suffered from a technical error that influenced every part of the experience. The pieces of sweetbread were very large. So large that while they were crispy-to-perfection on the outside, they were slightly underdone in the centers. This threw off the the texture and flavor. I will definitely go back and try them again to make sure it wasn’t a one-time problem. The barbacoa was Tacotopia-average. It was a bit lean and needed salt, but all-in-all, pretty good. Both tacos were well-endowed, stressing the tarpoleans almost to failure, but they held firm. The tortillas were pillow-like – a pleasure to eat. Aside from the mollejas faux pas, there were a couple of detracting elements to breakfast. The onions and cilantro were not stale, but the meal would have benefitted from a bit fresher produce – still not a show-stopper, though. The salsa left me wanting. It was fresh, but with no heat or flavor. “Falsa” I think says it all.  Hoping to hot it up a bit, I ordered some serranos. They arrived, minced in a pile that filled a saucer. They were beautiful and could have showed the onions and cilantro a thing or two about freshness. The experience was rounded-off by a never-ending cup of coffee and joking and laughing with friends. Not a bad way to start the day.


Our free taco winner for this week is:

Joan Jett

Though she’s a yankee vegan, she is undoubtedly an expert on eating tacos. Jett was the headliner of the first real concert I attended, at age 12, in 1983 in Fayetteville, Arkasas on the floor of the Razorbacks basketball arena.  I pushed my way up within 2 people of the stage before collapsing from exhaustion, excitement, and armpit stank inhalation. Still one of the most ass-kickinest rockers on planet earth, Ms. Jett is coy about her orientation, though it is was clear early on with her cover of Crimson & Clover, and many of her later more ‘descriptive’ songs that while she appreciates a broad menu of culinary fare she is partial to tacos. Coming from humble beginnings, Jett embodies the DIY spirit rising out of the ashes of the Runaways and starting her own record label after being reject by a score of record companies. Constantly touring for more than thirty years can take a toll on someone less centered and driven, but one only has to look at Joan Jett’s set jaw and chiseled abs to see she just gets better with each passing year.

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 autographed copy of Joan Jett’s Greatest Hits to tacos@tacotopia.net.

Restaurant El Charro – Getting Lucky

4105 Agnes Street, Corpus Christi, Texas • 361-881-6076

I’m in the midst of a case of snakebite, not a real snake, but the bite of the snake of fate. This happens to me every 9-12 months. I lost a valuable employee (though my other guy has picked up the slack well), my truck broke down, my newly remodeled bathroom backed up full of raw sewage. So I fix the truck, drive it for one day and it breaks down again. I get a plumber, he brings in a second plumber, and now it looks like we’ll need to bring in a tunneling crew that is likely to cost an amount comparable to a new car. Equipment at work is breaking down after years of trouble-free service.

I can hardly complain though, looking at the situation with a wider angle. I’m walking, breathing, working for myself, and I’m married to a lovely and charming woman, I’ve got a stepson who can nearly out-play me on the bass. I live in the greatest state in the country, in the greatest country in the world, in a time when the human race possesses the technological capability to do things we’d have assumed were miracles in olden times. In my life I have had some bad luck, but I’ve had some very good luck too.  Some would call it by another name; blessing; favor; fate.  I don’t presume to understand the hand of any power higher than myself – I know enough to know that I don’t know what I don’t know. Another thing I know is that it could always be worse. It just doesn’t feel like it that much this morning.

So in spite of (or perhaps because of) late nights of work all week and a steady stream of bad news I carved out time this morning to have some tacos. Of course I slept through the alarm (bad luck for the Hat, who waited for half an hour for my late ass to show up) but I eventually made it to the spot, El Charro on Agnes. This is the first of a four part series showcasing a cluster of taco shops located at the delta of Agnes, Baldwin, and Airport/Old Robstown – an area I call Bald-Ag.  We’ll review the local taco shops, and at the end a winner will remain standing – to go up against the winner of the next cluster (Kostoryz), and the next (Staples/Leopard). El Charro was scrappy this morning, though, and the rest of the boys on the block better step up if they have any hope of taking the title in the ‘Bald Ag Taco Frag’

Here’s the tale of the tape: the tortillas were tip-top, and the tacos were big. The carne guisada (“beef & gravy” according to our server) was very good – flavorful and dense while still having some spring in the beef, and I don’t think any caught in my teeth. The chorizo & egg was not quite as good but still well able to defend itself from all but the best in the city. There was good definition between the egg and the chorizo, everything was fresh to order, and there was a hint of sweet and spice. With some of the good burnt orange pickled salsa it was an A, if just barely. The atmosphere was nice too, big and comfortably clean – but not too clean.  I’d been here before on a weekend and it was packed tighter than a hong kong subway, but today is was good.  There were some snaking lines para llevar, but they seemed to move quickly. The coffee was fair, and refilled frequently.

All in all this place put its all into this fight. We won’t know until the other challengers get their licks in, but El Charro has nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe all this misfortune has started to turn around, starting with a couple of simple tacos.

Good luck!

From the Hat

Man, it’s my Lucky Day.  Got a couple of Scrabble games going with friends and havin’ a pretty lucky run.  On the way to the university this morning, I was lucky the driver texting in the car in front of me hadn’t caused an accident on our run down Ocean Drive. I dreaded  having to pass his meandering vehicle, but lucky for me, once he finished his mobile missive and hit send, he sped up to 60 and I didn’t have to deal with him.  Not the luckiest day I’ve had, but pretty good so far. Better than an unlucky day hands down.  Somewhere back in the distant past, I broke my neck.  Now that’s an unlucky day. Or was it lucky that I didn’t end up dead or paralyzed? Luck is interesting that way, depending on how you look at the same event, it can be either lucky, or unlucky.

Now before I run down a rabbit hole (in 3D) with this, it should be noted that I don’t believe in luck any more than I believe in astrology or their love child, “My Lucky Stars”. I understand the belief, but it just not sensible. When something bad happens, especially when several somethings bad happen, it’s all due to Bad Luck.  But if instead it’s a string of good things, it’s my Good Luck that’s responsible. We are creatures that by nature need an explanation. If we don’t have one, we’ll make one up.  Viola! Luck.  But as explanations for what goes on in the world go, Luck is pretty lame. I mean, let’s say I go to Cousin Clint’s Poker Night for a bit of Texas Holdem’.  If I have an unlucky night and loose all my money, someone else must have had a lucky night to win it.  So not only can the same event be lucky and unlucky for the same person, it can work this way for different people. Oh my achin’ head!  So was it bad luck that I broke my neck?  Absolutely not. It was stupidity that was responsible. Was I lucky that things turned out so well? Absolutely not. Brilliant surgeons, the care of countless nurses and the love of my family were responsible. And all of these people would have been there doing their thing regardless of my luck.  On the other hand, I had the best mollejas taco I’ve ever had today. Lucky?  Hmmm.

I did have the best mollejas taco I’ve ever had today at Charro’s Restaurant this morning. Fried very crispy – they were the texture of a perfectly fried oyster. Crispy on the outside, and soft and juicy on the inside. They came on an excellent flour tortilla with fresh onions and cilantro. Pure joy!  I also ordered the barbacoa taco. It was good, but missing the taste of cow’s head expected in an excellent barbacoa. It was lean and there was an unusual, but pleasant spice to it. Familiar, but I’ll have to have more to put a name to it. The salsa was served warm and colored that way too – spicy and orange with just the right amount of heat. A very pleasant breakfast and I thank My Lucky Stars.


Our free taco winner for this week is:

Jennifer Tilly

We mentioned Ms. Tilly in the Eddie’s Review, and noticed a strange thing soon afterwards: about half of our traffic comes from google searches for Jennifer Tilly (née Chan). Since then we’ve awarded free tacos to a number of very impressive women but none has inspired such interest as has Jennifer. A compelling argument in favor of blended marriages, she is part Chinese, and all American. Some might confuse her squeaky voice as an indication of a lack of intellect, but they’d be stupid to do so. Though briefly eclipsed by her sister Meg after a casual interest in acting turned into an Oscar nomination, Jennifer has stood the test of time taking on brave and challenging roles in movies like Bound, Dancing at the Blue Iguana, Fast Sofa, and Bride of Chucky. She nearly stopped acting altogether after taking up professional poker playing, winning at Ladies-Only No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em in the World Series of Poker.

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 dvd case of a copy of Bound to tacos@tacotopia.net.
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