Taquerias like El Santos can be frustrating because they seem all over the map in the quality of what they do. Located on the West Side on Castroville Road, El Santos is wrapped in burglar bars on the outside but which is actually a nice restaurant once you get inside. But just as the corn tortillas were quite good, the beans were off in a suspect way. Just as I loved the country ranchero taco, the bottled red sauce singed my tongue.
This is also a place recommended to me by my uncle, who lives with my grandma Sandoval not too far down Castroville, for those corn tortillas. They are yellow and soft and patted on sight. I have no idea if they’re cranking the molino in the back or if the masa is a mix or what — but they were still tasty. You also can buy in bulk: a dozen flour tortillas are $3.99 and corn tortillas are 50 cents each.
But let’s dig into some tacos.
My favorite was the country ranchero. Its smoky sausage was closer to what you’d get at home. I have no clue what sausage brand they’re cooking with. The ranchero sauce had a rich and clean tomato flavor with super fresh onions and bell peppers.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was the bean and cheese. You can just tell when beans are homemade, and these did not taste like that.
The machacado was a bit overdone, but the flavor was definitely there in a semi-crisp flour tortilla. The egg in the chorizo and egg was a bit overdone. The papa a la Mexicana was dry and therefore needed hot sauce, so I applied the red.
Man, oh man. The red is one of those sauces that’s so hot you can’t taste much of anything else. It’s more brown than red. It seemed based in a kind of smoked chile like chipotle or some other dried pepper. The green was also hotter than it should have been, oily and lacking in flavor.
The chilaquiles with crispy chips was good in one of those yellow corn tortillas. It got me and my taco associate thinking: this corn would be epic with some nice homemade beans that’s it. Maybe order some of those tortillas to-go and you can make that happen at home.
El Santos, 1419 Castroville Road, (210) 432-8403
— 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.