For the latest exercise in taco eating, I went to the Far West Side. Or, what I used to call the Quasi West Side. This area anchored by West Military and Marbach Road is not West Side proper, which is less a side of town and more a distinct geographic area that abuts downtown to the west. The Quasi West Side also isn’t Westover Hills or the Sea World area, but somewhere in between, hence the quasi.
But here you’ll find Taqueria Arandas, where the hot sauces really stood out more than the tacos. Which begs the question: Can a hot sauce elevate a so-so taco? A conversation for another time.
Here, the red salsa is chile de arbol-based and has a clean and non-oily texture. Slightly vinegary and more rustic with its bits of chile flakes — more flavorful than hot.
The green salsa is much more complex than your standard serrano and water concoction. Definitely tasted some garlic, and way hotter than the red.
As far as tacos, they were good tacos. Nothing mind-blowing. The sausage and egg was my favorite. At first, I was disappointed because the chopped up encased meat was more weenie than sausage in texture and appearance — so, more pale than dark. But this taco was superb. The sausage cooked in together with the egg and served hot and steaming. Made to order, for sure.
The chorizo and bean I’d recommend, too. The beans and chorizo seemed fresh and clean and non-greasy. The corn tortilla excellent, but I couldn’t tell if it was made in-house or what.
(A note about corn tortillas: I’m somewhat clueless about them. They could be made from a just-add-water mix at the restaurant or elsewhere. They could be made from scratch, but very few restaurants, I ‘ve been told by experts, go through the painstaking process of running the corn through the nixtamalization process. I’ve made dozens and dozens of corn tortillas using Maseca, the mix, and still I feel I know nothing about them. Getting them to puff up is still a mystery.)
The chicharron and egg taco didn’t come with egg (top pic), but the preparation of the chicharron was a pleasant surprise. The sauce seemed less guisada, which is typically like a stew or a braise, and more of a ranchero sauce. It had that definite tomato base, but without the onions. And pieces of cooked-through green pepper, which is always heaven. The skins needed more salt, but the texture was definitely there — not too rubbery.
The big disappointment was the chorizo-potato with its mushy potatoes. It had adequate seasoning, but the elements seemed just thrown together as opposed to the sausage and egg.
Finally, I was turned off by the un-bused tables that remained un-bused for the entire time I was there. I slipped in just after the morning rush, and so you’d expect some dirty tables. But they remained that way as I paid and left. Not like dirty tables affect the food you’re eating, but they left a bad impression. That said, the service was great.
Taqueria Arandas, 7055 W. Military Drive, (210) 673-6707
— 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.