El Lucero – Begin Again

101 Old Robbstown Road, Corpus Christi, TX
Chorizo & Egg $1.45 • Carne Guisada $1.95 • Coffee $1.10

I’m 40. I know there are about half of you who wish you were 40 again, and the other half who dread the thought. My teen years were a time of trying to figure out where I was, and who I was. My 20s were a time where I still had hope and ambition that I would do something great. By the time I was in my 30s I was trying to adapt to the world, rather than bending it to my will – and I was managing my expectations. I’m not going to be a rock star. I’m not going to be a director, or an actor, or developer of some piece of software that would change the way we think. At 40, I’m lucky if I can make it through the workday. And I’m not just saying that. I do, now, feel lucky to walk out to my 10 year old pickup at 5, or 6, or 9, and unlock the passenger door because the keyhole on the driver’s door is jammed from when someone opened it with a screwdriver to steal my blue Fender Jazz bass many months back. I hop in, drive across the harbor bridge and the causeway with the sun over my left shoulder turning everything in front of me magenta and orange, looking at the water that is a different color every day. It never gets old.

So, in my 40s I hope it will be the decade where I start fresh – with a more solid footing and more realistic expectations, and wisdom. I don’t know everything, but I know more than I did yesterday. I see parallels in my experience and the American experience. We got kicked in the teeth 10 years ago, thinking nobody had the nerve to take a shot at us. Now we know what it’s like for every other country in the world – to not be untouchable. We got the wind knocked out of us, and got off balance when we tried to punch back. We took our eye off the ball, and by the time we came to we’d been had by the government, by globalization, by the banks and the financial industry, by the republicans and the democrats who feed us the illusion of choice, the fed, big oil, big pharma, and anyone else with a bar of soap and a towel at the blanket party. We’re not going out like that. We’re coming back, stronger and smarter. We will do what our country does best – reinvent ourselves.

Corpus Christi can do it too. I lived in Austin in the 80s, before it blew up. During the S&L crisis there were tons of new office buildings that were totally empty. They turned it around, and their population has doubled in that time. Austin looked forward, and embraced education, diversity, and the future. Corpus Christi could take a hint and quit holding on to the past and start looking forward. Youth is our future, and if we don’t make this city a place they want to stay in they will leave, and we’ll fade away. I’m talking to you, city council. Work together, instead of fussing like children. Texting? Really? Is that your job? Arguing about texting? When half of the buildings downtown haven’t been occupied in more than a decade and are uninhabitable, and no one does a thing about it? They should be brought up to code or razed, I don’t care who owns them. It’s disgraceful to see the Lichtenstein building with gaping holes all over it’s rear – and human feces all over the stairs from downtown to uptown, and the only people who seem to care is Bill H on the vacuum cart and the hellishly efficient meter maids. And Brad Lomax, and Alan Albin at the DMD, and the folks at K Space, and Joe Hilliard, and last but not least Casey ‘the Rooster’ Lain. These are the people who are keeping this cities’ culture alive. Even Produce, though they took liberties with my companies’ logo on the last artwalk poster, and let’s not forget Glassworx, cuz the 20 somethings like to smoke things while they wear their kicks and their weird baseball caps with the bills on the side, and the Yin-Yang Fandango because anachronism is entertaining, and pachouli smells better wafting off a hippiechick than an incense stick, and SegCity cuz segways are like big girls – your friends may not think they’re cool but they’re a hell of a lot of fun. As long as I’m just plugging, stop by the Treehouse Collective who are not, as far as I can tell, commies – in spite of their name. And while you’re there you could do worse than to stop by Surf Club Records, or if you want the really cool shirts, or to get your cooking or pocket knives scary sharp, Whetstone Graphics – where you can even pick up a Tacotopia Tee. Let’s not forget Aloe Tile, in the old Studebaker dealership; The only downtown business I know with a banjo-playing co-owner. The most important person in the whole scheme of things (not to sound like Fred Rogers) is you. Go out and do something cool, or help someone who’s doing something cool, or at least don’t be a jerk.

This weeks taco joint has reinvented itself too, even since the last time we were there when it was Chacho’s. Now it’s El Lucero, and the atmosphere is a little different. Where once there was Harley memorabilia and steel, now there’s blank walls and disenfectant. I don’t know which is better, though in my experience cleaner taquerias do not necessarily render tastier tacos.  The chorizo & egg was pretty bland, not much chorizo, not much salt, not much flavor. The carne guisada had a ton of salt, and flavor – though it was very food-servicey flavor. The tortillas were good, both flour and corn, both salsas were passable – the verde was excellent, creamy with some heat.  This was their grand opening so I should go back and see if it get’s better later in it’s lifecycle.

Sorry for the extended hiatus. I’ve started 10 different posts that haven’t made it online, but the world is turning around me and I’m trying to get back in the fray.

The taco award winner for the week is:

Adrienne Barbeau

Barbeau in 1981

Long overdue for some respect is the talented and beautiful Adrienne Barbeau – who at 65 is still able to lure monsters out of their hiding places as she did in Creepshow, The Swamp Thing, and The Fog. Monster movies weren’t her only outlet for performing, even though she was married to one of the elder statesemen of the genre – John Carpenter, as she was in the classic Cannonball Run seen here trying to talk her way out of a ticket. Before her scream-queen days, she worked as a gogo dancer in New York and as such worked for the mob. She also played Rizzo in the Broadway production of Grease, and wrote a couple of books, and even had a kid at age 51 with her husband who happens to be the brother of little Steven Van Zandt. Now that she and I are both married I guess our long distance romance will never be consummated but I will always have a spot in my heart for her massive talents.

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 copy of the European release of the Swamp Thing to.

Daniela’s #1 – Bald Ag Taco Frag Finale

4258 Baldwin Blvd., Corpus Christi, TX 78405 • 361-883-3050
Chorizo & Egg $1.50 • Carne Guisada $1.85 • Bottomless Coffee 95¢

Over the past four weeks we’ve broken fast at every taco establishment between Old Robbstown and Baldwin on Agnes. In that time we saw a plane crash that killed a significant portion of the government of Poland, and a volcano that ground the European air travel industry to a halt.

This little blog is insignificant in the face for that continuing turmoil and strife so many see day to day. In the words of the late, immortal F. Zappa, “there’s no way to delay that trouble comin’ everyday.” Locally, Corpus Christi (aka Tacotopia) was named by Men’s Health magazine the fattest city in the US. While I question the statistical veracity of their half-baked math. Men’s Health is typically populated with articles detailing how this or that haircut on a chick means she’s wild in the sack so to take this ‘study’ as anything approaching accurate would be about as smart as taking any of tacotopia’s statistics seriously.

That said, there is no denying there is a problem with obesity in Tacotopia. I have a novel solution: eat less and exercise more. Tacos are not the problem, any more than are forks. Processed food might bear some of the blame, as well as sugar – especially in the form of HFCS. You find very little of this in breakfast tacos. Most of the ingredients are not far removed from their source. I’m not saying breakfast tacos are, in a word, healthy but I’d argue they beat the hell out of a McGriddle. Combined with exercise and moderation tacos can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. And ask yourself this: is a world without an occasional taco a world in which you would care to live? I say no.

The final stop on the Bald Ag tour is Daniela’s #1.  Located caddy-corner at Badlwin and Agnes this sprawling restaurant has some serious serving capacity.  When I showed up there were the police cruisers in the lot, always a good sign. The walls were peppered with photos of Zapata and Villa. The food came out and we got down to business.

The salsa roja was good, not too spicy but not too bland and with a nice flavor. The flour tortillas were fresh and hot, very light and were little match for the filling, falling apart before the tacos were finished. The chorizo & egg was fair, but rendered good with the salsa and the tortillas. The real star was the carne guisada which had a great texture, a nice rich flavor and even big chunks of bell pepper stewed in.

This place was pretty darned good. It is certainly worth a trip if you haven’t been there. I’d say it could go head to head with many of the most popular local favorites. The graph directly below reflects Daniela’s numbers.

From the Hat

Is it just me or does it seem to anyone else that the more time you have to do something, the longer it takes?  We tacoed early, so I’ve had plenty of time to produce some profound prose about pico… or picadillo.  But NOO!  I’ve even considered taking a right turn towards Damascus for inspiration, but I know that lightning waits down that road.  So I’ll do what any good Tacoteur in my position would do, I’ll get to the tacos.

Some of you know that TSH and I have been touring the Baldwin-Agnes Taco Nexus – sampling the wares, putting our 2-cents in.  And it’s been delicious.  We hit Daniella’s this time and did we hit paydirt!  I have to admit; I was hoping to get that mollejas taco for the perfect four-of-a-kind and was a bit disappointed when I discovered it wasn’t gonna happen.  After several rounds with the waitress, I began to feel I was getting a bit too “When Sally Met Harry” so I opted for a huevos con chicharrones a la Mexicana on flour and a barbacoa on corn con cebollas y cilantro. When the booty showed up, I was pleasantly surprised at the chicha taco.  It was BIG and stuffed with the goods.  I managed to hold up my lack-of-mollejas-disappointment until the first bite.  After that, I was hooked.  The taco was great. Plenty of fresh sliced jalapenos – perfectly spiced so that it didn’t need any salsa at all.  It was difficult not to scarf the thing down.  The chicharrones seemed to be of the dried variety, but they were prepared perfectly – with just the right mixture of chichas and eggs and vegetables.  It was all wrapped up in a damn fine flour tort to boot.  Outstanding.

The barbacoa taco was Tacotopia average.  Served piping hot, the aroma of barbacoa burst out of the foil and made friendly eyes at my nose from the get-go.  It was juicy, but not too fatty.  It needed salt, but the onion and cilantro were snappy-fresh and with a bit of a good, smoky salsa roja, it too was a sound offering.  The corn tort was thin, and perfectly round.  It was fresh and flavorful of corn.  I wouldn’t mind checking out their tortilla-making process.  I bet you could determine the value of pi to 10 digits by watching them work.

It was the first time I’d been to Daniella’s, and had no idea what to expect.  The food was good, the coffee was good and but for a slight mix-up with the taco delivery, the service was excellent and with a smile.  I’m still thinking that I could have taken a bite of Ian’s misdelivered C & E, and traded him for one of mine.  But I’m glad I didn’t because I probably would have given away that delightful chicharrone taco.  That would have sucked.


And without further ado, whatever the hell ado means, I will list the rankings of the Bald-Ag Taco Frag.

In 4th place, with a grade of 87.70 is Yoli’s

In 3rd place, with a grade of 90.00 is Daniela’s

In 2nd place, with a grade of 90.45 is Chacho’s

and the winner of the coveted Bald-Ag Taco Title is

El Charro with a grade of 90.78.



Our free taco winner for this week is:

Ann Magnuson

One might find it easier to answer the question what hasn’t Ann Magnuson done, than to list the things she has. She’s a singer, actor, performer, artist, cultural signpost, raconteur and all around freak. She ran Club 57 in the East Village, a nexus of the NY art scene that influenced the trajectories of such giants as Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Fab Five Freddy, Jean-Michel Basquiat, before moving on to acting (Making Mr. Right, A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, The Hunger) and Music with Bongwater and later as a solo act.

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 Cabin Boy to tacos@tacotopia.net.

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