For some reason, the northeast side of San Antonio fascinates me. North of Loop 410 and bound roughly by I-35 and I-10, this area reminds me of the impoverished and blue collar West and South sides, but without the history or soul. I mean, The Eisenhower Market and The Planet K on Austin Highway are about as puro as it gets.
Ended up at Taco Guadalajara on Rittiman Road, a tiny no-frills place located in a retail strip that also includes Yanni’s One Stop Barber Shop and an E-Z Wash. A block away are H-E-B warehouses were tractor-trailers lumber to and from.
Taco Guadalajara has 11 tables, a green and a red sauce, and that’s it. (And chips and salsa, but I was having breakfast.)
My taco order: machacado; bean, cheese and bacon; and carne guisada with cheese. I wet the machacado (shredded dry beef mixed with egg, diced tomatoes and onions) with the red sauce. The taco’s natural flavors were nice on their own, but the red sauce boosted it a notch.
Now, this sauce is not life changing. But I bring up the sauce because it was so recognizable to me and yet I couldn’t ID it. It was definitely chile based and not tomato based. So I took one of those lidded plastic cups with the red sauce back to The Tacoist Test Kitchen (my friend’s house) where we determined the sauce was made with the chile de arbol — the smaller, thinner Mexican pepper. One sniff of those dried bad boys and it was an instant match. The sauce reconstituted child de arbol (so it has red flakes), slightly tangy and probably mixed with garlic and oil — the heat lasts throughout the taco and then some before eventually backing away.
Couldn’t tell you about the bean and cheese with bacon because I wasn’t paying attention.
But the carne guisada was really good. Had that bold well-seasoned beefy flavor without being fatty. It was more shredded carne guisada than chunky. The flour tortillas were kind of thin and silky, but the crispy edges provided nice texture.
Taco Guadalajara, 4838 Rittiman Road, (210) 661-3333
— Worth traveling across town for
— Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
— Mostly misses
— Benjamin Olivo
What do you think? Is there a taco I should have ordered, but didn’t? Have any taco news, issues or concerns? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.