Chile Tomate y Cebolla wasn’t around when I went to Jefferson High School in the late 1990s. I wish it had been just to have a taqueria a block away from campus when I could gorge on tacos and them not affect my jeans size. Completely not the case these days.
Located in the retail block just up Donaldson Avenue from Jeff, Chile Tomate y Cebolla’s name gets to the very heart of Tex-Mex/Mexican cooking. Cajun cooking has the holy trinity. We have peppers (green), tomato (red) and onion (white) — the colors of the Mexican flag and the foundation for many basic Mexican dishes.
I must start this visit with the puerco chile Colorado, which was a new taco to me. I couldn’t tell what I was ordering just from the name. Once it arrived, however, it was obviously bite-sized pork pieces braised in a red chile sauce. The redness of the sauce suggested guajillo peppers, but it could be a combination.
Unlike carne guisada (which is braised beef), the pork pieces here retained their shape more. And yet, the pieces were perfectly tender and soft. The chiles provided a mild flavor, not hot at all, that mixed well with the meat. A bit salty with hints of garlic. And almost zero fat. Also, no need to apply this taqueria’s ranchero or serrano-based sauces — the salsa’s built in.
The flour tortillas had that preferred puffiness where the two sides actually separate from each other. Oddly, they were soft and slightly crispy at the same time.
Had I known the puerco chile Colorado was stew, I probably wouldn’t have ordered the carne guisada. Unfortunately, I did. This version is severely subpar. The meat was super mushy (almost shredded), dry and chewy, and had little stew. It completely lacked seasoning and therefore was boring flavor-wise — the opposite of what a good, slow-cooked dish should be.
The highlight of the bean and cheese on corn was the corn tortilla. This one perfectly soft (you chew through it with ease) with perfect thickness. The beans were super mashed and creamy and light — whatever animal fat is in these beans is subtle. The flavor of the serrano in the green hot sauce goes perfectly with this taco.
The bacon and egg was of the kind where the bacon is chopped up and incorporated into the scrambled egg. This will upset some folks who prefer a strip of bacon be placed in eggs that are cooked separately. Their argument is that mixing the two ingredients results in greasy eggs. The eggs in this taco indeed had that bacon grease flavor, but I didn’t mind too much. The bacon also wasn’t crunchy, but chewy. You could also see the egg whites, which means they didn’t whip the egg. Not a crime, but kind of weird.
If it hadn’t been for the carne guisada, I would have rated this taqueria higher. But it is worth a visit for the puerco chile Colorado taco. It didn’t blow my mind, but it’s good enough and unique enough for S.A. taquerias that it’s worth dropping in for if you’re in the area.
Chile Tomate y Cebolla, 1009 Donaldson Ave., (210) 736-0223
— 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.