A gentleman who looked to be having breakfast with his mom said, “You can’t go wrong with anything on this menu,” as I was waiting for my order. He was almost right.
Taqueria El Charro Tapatio is a small restaurant in one of those crumbling retail strips that line Blanco Road (and San Pedro, West Avenue and Vance Jackson, for that matter) heading north from downtown all the way to Loop 410. It’s a comfortable place that feels like a diner.
I ordered a machacado (oh mama), chicharron and egg (turnout out to be with bean), a chilaquiles (hmmm), and chorizo and bean (hell yes). They didn’t look like much, but three of the four tacos were quite good. The chilaquiles wasn’t bad, just different. Maybe it was bad. More on that later.
This is exactly how a machacado (pictured below) is supposed to be. The dried meat moistened by the taco’s other elements — not too stringy or elastic. The tomatoes, peppers and onions cut lengthwise and cooked with the egg and meat, and seemingly made to order as the whole thing was fresh and hot. And thus this taco was perfectly balanced — as you went through, all the flavors took turns chiming in. I wanted the tortilla to be fluffier, but it didn’t ruin the taco’s awesomeness. This taco doesn’t need any of Tapatio’s on-point red or green chile, hotness and taste already included.
The chorizo and bean on corn was a pleasant surprise. To be frank, the taco looked unappetizing (but don’t all chorizo and bean?) the beans leaking out from the ends all bleh. It also looked all bean and no chorizo. After first bite all that prejudice goes away. You immediately get the creamy beans and corn from the tortilla. The tortilla has a great texture with some resistance at the beginning and then softness. It wasn’t until mid-taco when I (hashtag) realized the chorizo. As opposed to the machacado, where all the ingredients were given a solo, the chorizo’s presence was subtle, just underneath the bean, harmonizing with the bean’s lead.
The chicharron and egg ended up being a chicharron and bean. The flour tortilla was cooked to a crisp, which I like sometimes. And it worked with this bad boy. Those creamy beans meshed beautifully with the chewy chicharron. This one requires hot sauce, because for me it lacked some seasoning.
And now the chilaquiles. This taco confounded me like no other in Tacoist history. I nearly finished it, because I was confused as to what I was eating. I didn’t know if it was delicious or nasty. I was trying to crack its code … The tortilla chips crunched, which was great. But the cheese overpowered all the other elements in the taco. It was a strange cheese, an orange cheese. Nacho-y, but not nacho-y. Like a strong cheese and tomato flavor and the egg and chips an afterthought. Not a bad taste, just different. Perhaps Taco Bell-ian? And at El Charro Tapario, they single out the chilaquiles on the menu, as if to showcase it. So maybe I’m missing something.
Finally, the chiles red and green. Both hot, and totally flavorful.
The green seemed like roasted serrano seeds and all with some garlic in there. The vinegary red probably guajillo based judging from the mellowness and maroon color. And rustic, as they say in the culinary world, with its flakes and seeds.
Overall, El Charro Tapatio was impressive and I’ll be going back to try the rest of the menu — and maybe even the chilaquiles in all its strangeness.
Taqueria El Charro Tapatio, 4600 Blanco Road, (210) 340-2650
— 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.