El Rodeo de Jalisco

El Rodeo Window

126 North Staples Street
Corpus Christi, TX 78401-3012
(361) 882-2199
Monday – Saturday 6:00AM – 8:00PM
Sunday 7:00AM – 2:00PM
Chorizo & Egg: $1.35, Carne Guisada: $1.60, Bottomless Coffee: $1.00

Back to work, nose to the grindstone… This will be the year I realize my life’s ambitions, write the great American novel, lose weight, get fit, learn Spanish, publish a comic book, make my internet t-shirt store profitable, host a ifoce breakfast taco eating contest, run a marathon.  Any one of these things would be nice, any two too much to ask for.  Really, last year wasn’t so bad but with the cold wind blowing cleanly through my shirt and my nipples harder than the male end of a pearl snap it occurs to me the year may hold some surprises for all of us.

Hat and I had agreed to meet at Brandy’s this morning at a later-than-usual 7:00AM. Brandy’s is about a block (the long way) from my shop so I parked at my normal spot and walked over.  The wind downtown has little to block it from the ocean and so it was whipping, and then I discovered my coat’s zipper wouldn’t zip – perhaps atrophied from neglect.  As I walked up to the rendezvous point I see no lights, and then no hours posted.  I was a little early so I waited in the freezing wind, huddled in the doorway of the derelict Center Theater with it’s graffiti and dead bird carcasses peering out through the locked glass doors hoping Kevin was eager enough for tacos to be early, if not on time, if not too late.  Sure enough, I see his truck pull up and I hop into the relief of still air and that distinctive Dodge aroma.

We headed up the bluff to El Rodeo de Jalisco which I was pretty sure was open.  A few years ago I was at a family thanksgiving meal and went looking for something open and found this place serving up tacos and coffee to bicycle police, always a good sign. The place is a little dingy, a little funky; none of the walls are quite plumb, none of the corners are quite square.  The ceiling tiles at the front of the last row are about a foot and a half wider than at the back.  None of these things necessarily reflect the quality (or at least the taste) of the fare.  In fact I’d argue a little funk adds flavor to the food.  Some of the best tacos I’ve had have been produced in grimy holes in the wall, and this place falls well short of the grimy threshold and is merely off-white.

El Rodeo Tacos

As always I ordered a Carne Guisada, a Chorizo & Egg, and a cup of coffee.  The coffee came in a small cup but I never saw the bottom of it, and our waitress may not have been as conversant in English as in Spanish but she nonetheless conveyed warmth and humor  as she worked expeditiously.  The salsa verde was a jalepeño puree that hit like a brick wrapped in sandpaper – I put as much of it as I could bear on my tacos. The tortillas were excellent: smallish but hefty and fresh as the prince of Bel Aire.  The Carne G was very savory. I’ve been holding that adjective out of circulation for a special Carne Guisada taco, and this is it.  The beef chunks were huge, and so tender they practically melted in your mouth.  The Chorizo & Egg was top notch as well, and let me explain my philosophy of C&E.

It’s like the Marx brothers.  The tortilla is Harpo, and never says anything but he’s just as funny as the other two and the music he makes is what sets everything apart – elevating the trio to a state of art rather than base humor like the 3 stooges (don’t get me wrong, I love the stooges – especially Iggy).  Then you’ve got Chico, who’s like chorizo: always chasing skirt, with a thick accent and a sharp wit he is the one that provides the spice and the kick – and plays a mean piano himself.  Finally there’s Groucho, the egg.  He’s got the attenuated lilt, and with his wise if misguided direction and beguiling patter he could convince you to eat a shoe-leather and egg taco, and think it was delicious.

We sat around for another thirty minutes after we finished our food, drinking cup after cup of coffee and hashing out the future, but all good things come to an end. As Groucho said, “I’ll do anything you say, I’ll even stay. But I must be going.”

From the Hat
Happy New Year to everyone.  I’d like first to thank Ian for keeping his taco blog up and running during the Holiday break.  While I fattened myself on the season’s bounty, he continued providing mobile mealtime missives for all of the Tacotopia readers.  Good job Taco Show Host.
Driving downtown early this morning felt strangely like a million years ago when I worked there setting type for a Quik Print shop on the bluff.  This week, though it was jury duty that had me by the bay.  I want to complain about the whole thing.  How it was uncomfortable, and boring, and we were treated like cattle.

But I can’t

I’d never made it to voir dire much less to a panel before.  And my only experience thus far had been with county or state district court.  And those experiences were, well, uncomfortable, and boring, and we were treated like cattle.   The Feds treated us courteously, with respect.  The courtroom was a meat-locker and I was happy I had my coat, but other than that we were fully coffee-and-doughnutted through the whole process.
It was not a long trial as they go.  I so wanted to hear someone burst out with, “Objection, your Honor!”  But the tone was muted and somber.  After 20 minutes of discussion in the jury room, I was “voted” presiding juror.  I don’t know why, but I hope it wasn’t just because I had the biggest moustache.  It took us most of two days to come to a unanimous decision.  (I hope that this also wasn’t just because I had the biggest moustache).  During that time we were all amazed, frustrated, irritated, and flabbergasted.  Adult stood helplessly by as Parent chided and chased Child around the room leaving me to wonder in the end if I was still OK.  But I was and once we decided, we were out of there in minutes.  I’m happy to have been a part of the process, but I’m even happier this morning to be judging only breakfast tacos.

.22 AC Vent in front window

.22 AC vent in front window

And El Rodeo de Jalisco was guilty of being good.  I ordered a nopalitos con huevos a la Mexicana on flour and a barbacoa con cebolla y cilantro on corn.  The barbacoa was typical, good but not out of the ordinary.  It was served with the freshest white onion and cilantro.  The corn tortilla was good but a bit more firm than optimal.  The star was the nopalitos taco.  The pear was soft and slightly acidic as if pickled.  But the slices were delicious in the taquito – not overshadowed at all by the generous mix of eggs, fresh onion, tomatoes, and peppers.  The whole business was wrapped in an excellent flour tort.  Of the two salsas, the almost excessively hot green was A+ material, the ranchero sauce, not so much.  I probably drank more coffee than I needed while we talked and bore witness to the cold outside via our .22 window vent.  Still, me gusto mucho!



El Rodeo de Jalisco on Urbanspoon

SPAM! – The Spam Edition


Produced in Austin, Minnesota by Hormel Foods, Spam Classic is an often maligned potted meat.  The name is a contraction of Spiced Ham but is sometimes referred to as ‘Something Posing As Meat’ or ‘Stuff, Pork And Ham’ or even ‘Special Product of Austin Minnesota.’
Introduced to the South Pacific during WWII, Pacific Islanders consume the most Spam of anyone in the world with it’s similarity to salted pork used in much local cuisine. If you’re in Hawaii you should try a Spam Loco Moco (1 scoop white rice, spam patty, fried egg, and brown gravy – one on top of the other) or the McSpam sandwich available at Hawaii McDonalds’.

Produced in Austin, Minnesota by Hormel Foods, Spam Classic is an often maligned potted meat.  The name is a contraction of Spiced Ham but is sometimes referred to as ‘Something Posing As Meat’ or ‘Stuff, Pork And Ham’ or even ‘Special Product of Austin Minnesota.’

Introduced to the South Pacific during WWII, Pacific Islanders consume the most Spam of anyone in the world with it’s similarity to salted pork used in much local cuisine. If you’re in Hawaii you should try a Spam Loco Moco (1 scoop white rice, spam patty, fried egg, and brown gravy – one on top of the other) or the McSpam sandwich available at Hawaii McDonalds’.

Through countless visits to taco shops around Corpus Christi we’ve noticed the presence of a little known and controversial item on a number of the menus: the Spam taco. The mention of spam stirs immediate reactions, sometimes horror and disgust, sometimes a perverse voyeuristic interest.  From those who have had more than one there is a guarded camaraderie, no one who doesn’t like them would ever eat more than one, if that. Well Kevy the Hat and I are, if anything, omnivores.  We don’t shun a food simply for its questionable origins or even the health risks involved. The taco is a perfect environment for spam, with it’s overwhelming flavor.  It is mellowed by the interplay with the tortilla and egg or bean, its salt and seasoning self-contained.

As time has passed we’ve kept track of the places that cater to spamsters and once we accumulated enough we set about a canvass the town and try to provide an objective comparison of the offerings available.  Casting away our usual routine and rating system we thought we’d dispense with our usual format as well, in favor of a freewheeling dialog discussing the process.  My side will be orange and the Hat’s end of the conversation will appear in green.

To start out with we drove to Solis on Leopard.  This was the last entry in our list, and i didn’t get the name until yesterday after some google earth detective work.  I called and verified they had a spam taco, but then upon arriving this morning a pretty but uncomprehending waitress checked and found the cupboard bare.  It is a taqueria we will be revisiting in the future though. We hit another spot across NPID on Leopard – El Mexicana – and found it closed and roped off with police tape saying ‘cuidado.’  My guess is a redo of the cratered parking lot is about to commence.  After the second strike we headed down Padre Island Drive to Kostoryz to Enrique’s where we got our first catch of the day.  Tell me, Kevin, what did you think of the place?

EnriquesSpamYou know I like the place.  A shiny restaurant and wait staff.  Torts were good and fresh.  I might say we found that most, if not all of the places on the trip today had good tortillas.  I really didn’t know what to expect from a Spam taco.  I remember the stuff from my childhood.  It appeared on the table over the years.  I was young, so I don’t really know if it was a joke or not.  But fried crisp, it’s not horrible. I think Enrique’s did a respectable job of it.  Think bacon and egg taco with extra slabs of salt.  The eggs were tasty and they outnumbered the can-shaped slices of pig product.  Pretty good start.

After a little rumination on Enrique’s Spam taco we bounced down Kostoryz to Yoli’s – recommended by bartender extraordinaire and all around cool guy Johnny from the Executive Surf Club.  A barely disguised convenience store, this place was too busy to park in the lot, and it took us a good 40 minutes to get the taco.  Once we got it, it was pretty much the same taco, wouldn’t you say?



Pretty much the same taco.  Not really worth the wait.  We were definitely not in the smart crowd.  The ticket is to call in your order ahead.  There were many people walking out of that place with large sacks of tacos.  I will say at this point in the trip, I was thinking, “I’m not sure I can eat five more of these.”  Were they all going to be the same?  It should be pointed out that we’re splitting tacos.  I think we need to go back and give Yoli’s another visit though for a regular review.  I think the place is going to pan out to be good.  I’m thirsty and I think my ankles are swelling.

The fourth stop on our spamvenger hunt this morning was Sonny’s, which you may remember for it’s menudo a few weeks ago.  This place really knocked it out of the park.  Instead of the spam wafers in all the other tacos Sonny’s cubed it, like they do their chicharrones.  There’s no way to disguise the flavor with chunks this big.  It’s like the taco was saying ‘I’m Spam, if you don’t like it you can go to hell!’


For sure the best gorram taco of the day.  When we ordered, I noticed that they had several salsas for sale so I ordered a habenero salsa to go.  I figured that if I got the same taco for a third time, I’d spice it up a bit.  Sonny’s Spam offering was actually good.  And so was the habenero salsa.  Their parking lot sucks though.  You’d have trouble fitting a couple of Smart Cars and a Cooper Mini in that lot.  If I remember right, didn’t we start talking about mixing it up a bit?  Beans maybe, or a la Mexicana?

Not being a Firefly fan I don’t know wtf gorram is but I can guess it’s nsfw.  Yeah, we did start mixing it up with the next spot on the list – Santa Rosa Restaurant on Staples.  This place had so many gorram cars in the lot that they spilled out and filled the streets on two sides.  The hand painted menu in the drive through was a work of art.  What’d you think for the Spam & bean?


At that point it was a great change.  We definitely have to go back to Santa Rosa.  I’d like to check it out inside.  I got to try somethin’ besides the beans.  Which were very good.  It seems weird to season Spam with bacon.  Everything really is better with bacon.  Another good tortilla.  Just what I needed.  I think Santa Rosa is running a close second place behind Sonny’s.  I won’t eat the rest of the weekend and we still had two more to go.

Yeah, the next stop was Chacho’s Tacos #2 and they sent a waitress out to take the order before we even got to the window.  I thought the way the spam was cooked in this one was the best of the bunch: it was crisp on the corners and tender in the center.  There wasn’t enough of it though, and it was flat cut.


Have to agree on the Spam.  The beans were a bit disappointing, though.  At least it was small.  I think I was starting to come up against the wall.  I can hear your words in my head, “after five of them, there’s not a whole lot of difference to talk about.”

So then we go downtown to Brandy’s, and I have to mention that my company, Whetstone Graphics, did the vinyl sign out front.  This was not the most picturesque taco we had that morning, but it was certainly not lacking salt, of which I am a fan.  Plus, Brandy is the nicest server we saw all day.  We gobbled it down in a spam induced daze back at Kevin’s HQ, the rendezvous point.


I liked the taco at Brandy’s and in all fairness about the salt, how can you tell after 5 other Spam tacos?  I feel like Lot’s wife by this time.  Next time we do this, we’ll put Brandy’s first on the list.  I was never so glad to get home and get a drink of cold water.  I fear drinking too much as I might brine myself over the weekend.  Should have bought some bigger shoes today.  After all of the Spam, I think it was definitely a worthwhile project.  I’m not sure to whom it’s worthwhile, but I had a good time.

spam-day-04-01-1949-129-M5-1So in the end we lived through it, and in spite of what you might think neither of us has sworn off the Spam.  Sonny’s takes the prize, but none of the tacos we ate was too bad.  Now I have to figure out why there’s a pressure in my chest and my arm hurts.  I hope I’ll see you next week.