Taqueria Jalisco 12 – Two Poles Walk Into a Taqueria

3830 South Staples, Corpus Christi, Texas 78411
Chorizo & Egg $1.35 • Carne Guisada $1.75* • Bottomless Coffee $1.25
* maybe…

We live in a time and place where agents of evil have endeavored to divide us. Independent and critical thought is squelched by a bilateral conspiracy to manipulate us. We are like iron filings and there’s a ginormous magnet right under the earth’s crust; we’re pulled between the two poles and if you can manage not to succumb to the attraction of one or the other you’re nearly pulled apart by the effort.

Politics is consumed with it, like a cancer, but polarization is all around us. Take the Memorial Coliseum for example. ‘You’re with us or against us.’ I unfriended someone on facebook this week because that person was painting a less-than-unfavorable picture of another US civil war. The benefits vs the inevitable horrors of such a thing fall outside the scope of a blog about tacos, but WTF!

Then there’s BP. Almost everyone is unified in the understanding that this is a terrible catastrophe, but the machine has turned this into grist for the mill, another argument for whatever the people already believe, one way or the other. Rand Paul says accidents happen in a free market. Rahm Emanuel says not to waste a crisis. I have some ideas of things we could put in that well to plug it. I bet you do too.

There is a local chain of restaurants in Corpus Christi, arguably the Exxon/Mobile of local taquerias, that polarizes local tacothusiasts. You know which one I’m talking about: Jalisco. The mention of the name in a roomful of people will illicit strong statements condemning or praising them. The criticism is usually for the chain as a whole, and the praise tends toward individual restaurants. I have never weighed in on the controversy, as I have not eaten enough of the many locations to make an informed judgement, even as vast as my experience with local tacos is – and as my straining belt can tell you, it is vast.

So this morning we moved one step forward in the quest to understand the nature of this argument by eating at Jalisco #12 on Staples at Weber. The Hat and I fought for the turn lane on the way into Jalisco’s lot, but reconciled. Can’t we all just get along? Once inside we ordered, and in a show of bipartisanship the Hat ordered chorizo & egg just as I always do. In my fashion, I also got a carne guisada. The food came to the table and was presented in a polite formality, but not before our coffee had been refilled three or four times in as many minutes. The red I expect in chorizo & egg had jumped from one side of the plate to the other – the carne g looked like it was on fire, and the other taco was a mellow yellow.

From the Hat

Taco Blanca and I attended the Star Wars Orchestra Concert last night and man, what a blast!  There were people of all shapes, sizes, and colors in attendance.  There was no arguing, no bickering, no complaining about the current political scene, or a peep about the gushing gaff in the Gulf.  We laughed, cried, celebrating in solidarity the sonic wonders of Lucas’s amazing movies.  If you can’t tell, I loved it.  It was one of those rare times where no matter who you listened to, there was no rancor.  No “Them”, only “Us”.

Refreshing in a world where no matter what the issue, there are always two diametrically opposed factions that pass on promoting the good of The People to promote their own version of “Us”.  Finding an angle at every instance to make “Them” look like devils and “Us” like saints.  It’s normal.  I understand it.  And the mechanism probably worked great when we were hunting, gathering tribes.  But now the only thing I’m really hunting is the next great barbacoa.  I don’t need a “Them” to set up as the enemy so I can gather a good guisada.  And maybe we can take a lesson from that.  I’m not getting all Cumbaya on you.  We have real, deadly enemies in the world who view us as devils, literally.  And we should make every effort to protect “Us”.  But that enemy is not those who have different opinions, or wear different kinds of clothing or hairstyles, or tattoos, or Liberals, or Conservatives.  And they’re not across the breakfast table – no matter how we might disagree about the quality of the tortillas.  Which by the way were damn good.

And the torts weren’t the only thing good at breakfast this morning.  We went to our third Jalisco this morning and I was pleasantly surprised.  I ordered a barbacoa classico (with cilantro and onions on corn) and a chorizo and egg.  The barbacoa was tender – moist, but not greasy.  Usually I would be crying “Fat is flavor.”  But this “lean” barbacoa was packed with flavor of cow head and spices.  It was served on a very corny tarpolean.  All-in-all a successful breakfast package.  The choizo and egg, usually TSH’s purview, was very good.  Different from most in that it was distinctively not-orange and not-greasy.  I’m ashamed that I could not identify a very tasty seasoning in the mix.  I’ll definitely have to go back and try again to determine the mystery spice.  A query verified that the chorizo was made on-site, but I’ll leave the details to an expert.  The flour tarpolean was fluffy, with a light coating of flour.  I like the brush of flour as long as the flour is cooked.  I’m not a big fan of raw flour.  These were to my liking.  Both salsas, red and green were fresh and tasty.  The green had a good taste of fresh peppers and the red had a pica that pleased the palate.  Definitely the best of the Jaliscos reviewed so far.


The tortillas were good, fresh, and warm with a light sprinkling of flour. This doesn’t bother me, but many find it inexcusable. The chorizo & egg is difficult to wrap my head around: it was quite good, but not with a strong flavor. There was almost no grease which usually means the taco will have almost no flavor, but it was not the case. The flavor was strong, but I couldn’t place it. I didn’t need to salt the taco. The mixture was fairly homogenous, but not in a bad way. With some of the salsa verde it was quite good, but a taco of nothing but their delicious green salsa would be delici0us by itself with a subtle and complex avocado pepper flavor. The red salsa was nearly as good, and tasted of smoky dried chilis.

The carne guisada was also fairly lean, but not on flavor. It was an assault on the mouth, but I liked it. I couldn’t identify what the flavor was coming from, it was beefy but sharp and not hot. The taste was one dimensional but it’s a good dimension. After another 20 or 30 cups of coffee we emerged into the light of day, ready to try and navigate a path toward unity and the common good, and that path was written on the front of a custom goldwing.

Our Taco Award Winner for this week is:

Ornella Muti

I know very little about Ornella, but I do know she played Aura in Flash Gordon. Really, what else do you need to know? By the way, the picture on the left was taken last year, 30 years after the one on 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 an vinyl copy of Queen’s Flash Gordon Soundtrack to tacos@tacotopia.net.

Taqueria Jalisco on Urbanspoon

Taco Taco SA – The Taco to Beat

145 East Hildebrand Avenue, San Antonio, TX 78212 • (210) 822-9533
Monday-Sunday, 7:00 am – 2:00 pm
carne guisada $1.99, chorizo & egg – $1.49, bottomless coffee – $1.49

I live in Corpus Christi, Texas, a town also known has Tacotopia. It is the optimal environment for tacos – close to Mexico, big enough to have real competition between the taco masters and small enough not to assume the pretenses you find in larger cities where they try to corrupt the identity of the taco by introducing elements from other cultures. I’m no xenophobe but I do feel that the breakfast taco has reached its apex, and a standard has been established that can never be bested. If you add Sriracha sauce and fried feta to your Carne G, you’ll have something delicious but it’s not a breakfast taco.

So a few months back when some ignorant journalist went off all half-cocked and said “When it comes to breakfast tacos Austin trumps all other American cities” I worked hard not to totally flip the fuck out. With quiet reflection, and a stiff drink or five, I assessed the situation objectively and reached the conclusion that this yahoo just didn’t know any better, and that the only real contender Corpus Christi has is San Antonio. I know in my heart that we have the best breakfast tacos in the world, but many would argue that title belongs to a little spot on Hildebrand in San Antonio called Taco Taco, a place that was named best tacos in America by Bon Appétit Magazine. Having not eaten there I couldn’t be sure they weren’t right, and it kept me up at night.

This weekend I came up to the home of the Alamo to find out. Just like most celebrities it was smaller than it looked in pictures, but there was a full parking lot and a line out the door. The ‘no photography’ sticker on the door had me worried this was going to be a text only review, when a lady came up and asked me if I worked for a magazine.

“No,” I said. “I’m a… blogger,” I continued, shamefacedly. After she checked my credentials she said “you’re a nice man, you can take pictures” and I felt like I’d just gone backstage. The booth was nice, the light was good, the wall of awards stared down at me. The woman who guarded the door turned out to be Helen Velesiotis, the owner, and she revealed that there was no animal fat used to prepare any of the food.

“Even the beans?”

“Even the beans.”

Strike one. While I respect the decision, and the strength of will it would take to make such a decision It can’t help but adversely affect the final product, and it did. The beans were good but suffered from lack of pork fat. They were probably as good as they could get without it but was a significant lard deficiency, a terminal condition for beans. The tortillas were excellent, both the flour and the corn. The flour were fresh and fluffy, but dense – and no dry flour on the surface. The corn were thick and heavy, but fresh – almost like a baked polenta. I got the chorizo & egg, and a carne guisada. The chorizo and egg was heavy on the egg and light on the chorizo – to the point where I could barely taste the latter. The carne g was very tasty, with firm rich big chunks of beef and a sauce that had been made better with a long slow cook. The salsa itself was really good, with a strong dried chili flavor but with fresh tomato, cilantro and onion, blended to a sauce that showed nothing but the seeds and the red.

Once I got most of the way through the two tacos, Helen emerged with more food, and then later with more again. First it was a tray of chilequiles, and they were the best thing I had to eat there – a perfect blend of crisp corn tortillas, egg, cheese, fresh jalapeños, tomatoes, onions and cilantro on the same excellent flour tortillas. Then was the Norteño, beans and white cheese on a charlie brown with beef fajita y avocado.

We left the place totally stuffed, and feeling like we had been treated like royalty by the kind greek lady with the excellent Texican restaurant. That makes it hard for me to say this: these aren’t the best tacos in America, there are a few taco shops in Corpus Christi that do a better job than Taco Taco, but Corpus Christi is on such a high level, and the two hours difference from CC to SA makes it harder to make tacos as good, simply by proximity to the Rio Grande. You’d be crazy not to eat here if you like tacos and you’re in San Antonio. And Helen, if you’re ever in Corpus Christi let us buy you breakfast.

The taco award will return next week.

Taco Taco Cafe on Urbanspoon

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.

Daniela's Restaurant on Urbanspoon