When the waitress at El Mariachi Loco brought our tacos — 10 in all — I told the group, “I’m going to be weird for a second.” I grabbed the plates and took them to a table next to a window, next to the natural light, for photo purposes.
“That’s OK, this is what I paid for,” said The Yellow Cheese of Texas.
She was being funny, but she got me thinking: Why not start a taco fantasy camp?
The Yellow Cheese was there with her bestie, The Big Bender — two lady friends who I had met for the first time 12 hours earlier at a mutual friend’s birthday gathering, which included booze, Hard Bodies tacos and birthday cake.
In the drunkenness it was decided that they should accompany me on my taco adventure the next morning . . . nothing happened. And then we met for tacos. The Yellow Cheese happens to work in food and I needed her expertise to decipher a flavor I have never tasted, and that I’ll probably never taste again in a local taqueria: curry.
This was the flavor embedded in the carne guisada at El Mariachi Loco — which I have determined is the greatest name for a taqueria ever. But curry? Later upon reflection, the Yellow Cheese and Big Bender thought coriander, as well.
So we asked the waitress, and later chatted up the owner, and it was determined that they use Maizena (corn starch) to thicken the stew. Definitely different, but also tasty and tender.
Later, she used the starch or masa or something to make us a vanilla atole — which is like a horchata but thicker and hot.
I fell in love with El Mariachi Loco. It’s in what looks like a portable classroom. A humble place that is totally chill. The owner chatted up the Yellow Cheese and Big Bender, two white girls, and totally ignored the Mexican with the camera. El Mariachi Loco is located in the industrial part of the northside that’s in the shadows of the airport. The windowless Marty’s Cocktails, for those wondering, is across the street.
El Mariachi Loco’s flour tortillas were especially good. They were smooth and almost translucent, soft and layered to indicate they had puffed up. Thin, but with some fluff.
I enjoyed all of the tacos. The ham and egg was respectable. The bean and cheese had flavorful beans and was really cheesy. The bacon and egg with cheese had coarsely chopped bacon that were like little pops of flavor. The papa chorizo was more mashed potatoes, so I wasn’t a big fan, but at least the chorizo was high grade and therefore not greasy. Really good migas — not dry and very crispy chips.
The al pastor Monterrey style was dry but flavorful. I liked the addition of the cheese, but The Big Bender didn’t care for it.
The machacado was very good. The meat needed more seasoning, but I loved the pop from the bell pepper and onion, and it had a nice burst of heat from the peppers. Loved it.
So this was my adventure. And now you know that if you become a Tacoist groupie — girl or guy — you automatically get a cool nickname. The Yellow Cheese of Texas and The Big Bender have set the bar.
El Mariachi Loco, 610 Isom Road, (210) 979-0457
Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some 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 email@example.com.