You barely notice Lucy Cafe when driving up West Avenue after exiting I-10. The Mexican restaurant is in the middle of one of those shabby retail strips that are ubiquitous along the North Central corridors of this street, Vance Jackson and Blanco roads, and San Pedro Avenue.
Nondescript is a word to use, but, gosh, I’m tired of that word. From the outside it looked dead.
When I walked in, I felt like Dorothy stepping into Munchkin Land — except this was Coca-Cola Land. Prints of vintage 1940s ads and other paraphernalia hung on the walls. Helicopters made from aluminum cans dangled below the ceiling fans. Even the salt and pepper shakers were Coca-Cola bottles.
The only things not Coca-Cola red, seemingly, were the squirt bottles of green and orange salsitas, and the tacos.
Immediately, you’ll notice that the flour tortillas are different. They are super soft and nonuniform, as if the cook doesn’t really care if they’re circles. There’s something in these fluffy tortillas that give them a homemade quality. I can’t explain.
They went great with the papa chorizo, which needed salt. I also added the green salsa and — shit that’s hot. The tortilla absorbed some of the grease and the tortilla broke, but otherwise, very good flavor. The potatoes were not too mushy. They were coated nicely with good quality chorizo.
The machacado and egg was salty, but with good flavor. The meat, egg and veggie combo looked as bland as can be — not as vibrant as some of the others I’ve had, but tasty. And with some built-in heat from the serrano or whatever pepper they mixed in.
I loved the thick gravy on the carne guisada, which had good initial flavor, but not much depth. The bean and cheese was about average, but seemed enhanced on these unusual flour tortillas. Though, I asked for corn.
I thought the tacos here were OK. Perhaps I didn’t order the right ones. There’s definitely something about the atmosphere here. Besides the Coca-Cola trip, the staff here talks to you in a pleasant way. One waitress wanted to know if I study photography, given the huge DSRL I was handling. My waitress put a fan next to me as I ate — the place was a little stuffy. One lady, who was loud and who I presumed was Lucy, was super nice and was particularly proud of the aluminum helicopters.
Lucy Cafe, 2517 West Avenue, (210) 737-7166
Worth traveling across town for
Average S.A. taqueria. Some hits, some misses
— Ben 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.