Sometimes I’ll throw around the term “mind blowing” — not to describe what a taco is, but what it isn’t. This, of course, violates Strunk and White’s rule about always putting sentences in positive form, and I don’t feel good when I do it.
But when a taco does reach mind blowing status . . . I’m talking about a food at the very height of taste. Like the best of the best, but better. The type of eating experience that would trigger a mild-mannered person to say — to paraphrase the loquacious Debra Morgan — #$%*, that’s good.
I’ve experienced this only a handful of times as The Tacoist during visits to nearly 50 taquerias, so far. At Mama’s Kitchen on Hildebrand Avenue, it happened again.
The chicharron en salsa ranchera is a must-order and is definitely worth driving across town for. The sauce had excellent tomato-y flavor and the chewy chicharrons — texturally perfect — were pork skins at their slow-cooked finest. And then more layers kicked in. This taco actually gets better as you work through it. This must have something to do with the sauce inheriting the flavor of the skins and the skins picking up the flavor of the sauce. I mean, truly mind blowing stuff.
Mama’s Kitchen is kind of an institution in the Alta Vista area. I’ve been pointed in its direction by several taco enthusiasts. And I recognize Mama’s because I pass by it almost daily and read its sign that says “110% Mexican Food.”
First, they have near-perfect tortillas. The flour was soft and puffy. The corn tortillas were thin and puffed, sturdy yet soft.
I loved the uniqueness of some of the tacos. I really liked the spinach with egg a la Mexicana. Surprisingly, this taco was slightly greasy and needed a little more seasoning. However, all of the flavors came together nicely to form a well-balanced taco — the spinach mixed in with the egg and tomato, onion and peppers.
The rice and egg taco was new to me. The rice was clearly cooked with chicken stock, and so it provided a strange but delicious all around chicken flavor with the slightly messy scrambled eggs.
The bean and cheese had excellent beans, some of the best tasting beans, fatty and mashed on that perfect corn tortilla — yes, please.
The carne guisada was simple — not a lot of ingredients in there — and good. Like it was dependent upon the quality of the meat and not so much other ingredients.
It’s been two weeks since I wrote the beginning of this piece. I waited that long to finally post this report for several reasons — procrastination being one of them. But another is that I wanted to read my ode to this chicharron en salsa ranchera was true. I didn’t want to be accused of hyperbole. Two weeks later, I stand by my assessment of that taco. I challenge you to go try it and tell me it’s not one of the best in San Antonio.
Mama’s Kitchen, 504 Hildebrand Ave., (210) 733-0904
— 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.