MPH's Profile

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Delicious Peruvian Chicken at El Palacio del Pollo, West Orange (Essex County)

Just a follow-up note to my fellow 'hounds: The rotisserie chicken is only served on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

I went back this week and found out the hard way. Instead of chicken, I tried the jalea mixta, which was a huge mound of fried and battered shrimp and calamari and a large filet of fish (sautéed but not battered). The whole mound was topped with lots of sliced onion and served with lime and salsa. There were battered, thick “fries” of yucca root and also some fried potato halves underneath the seafood, which I guess counted as my vegetables for the day. The dish looks like this: http://www.gastronomiaperu.com/receta...

We also tried the arroz chaufa de pollo, or fried rice with chicken. Both main dishes were good. I liked the seafood dish quite a bit. However, I had really been craving the chicken.

Mar 08, 2012
MPH in New Jersey

Delicious Peruvian Chicken at El Palacio del Pollo, West Orange (Essex County)

I tried the Peruvian rotisserie chicken at El Palacio del Pollo (the Chicken Palace!) on a Friday night a few weeks ago. My dining companion and I got a whole chicken, which comes with their delicious aji verde sauce and a mountain of tasty french fries. (They offered standard-issue packaged mayo or ketchup to go with the fries.)

We also tried their papas a la huancaina, which are a staple dish in Peru. It's not unlike a cold potato salad: The dish consisted of about 8 halves of boiled potatoes, topped with a creamy cheese sauce spiced with aji amarillo, a yellow Peruvian pepper. Two halves of one boiled egg were placed on top.

To drink, we had their chicha morada, which is like an agua fresca, but made of purple corn and spices. It's very refreshing.

Everything we tried was delicious, but neither of us could stop eating the flavorful chicken. Even the white meat was very juicy, and the pieces of chicken were generously-sized. I secretly wanted to hog all the chicken skin for myself, but that would have make me look rude. I don't think it would have been hard for me to eat almost that entire pile of chicken by myself. This is why we didn't try any of the desserts.

The atmosphere on that Friday night was busy, but friendly. There was one server, who did not appear to speak much English. The menus were bilingual, though, if I recall correctly. El Palacio was doing a brisk take-out business at the counter. There seems to be a bar on the other side of the restaurant, which was closed when I was there.

The restaurant is located at 540 Valley Road in West Orange.

Mar 04, 2012
MPH in New Jersey

Good Source for Mulino Bianco Cookies: Wegman's, Princeton

For my fellow 'hounds who love Mulino Bianco's delicious cookies, I just wanted to let you know that the Wegman's in Princeton carries several types of MB cookies, including their chocolate Cuori, sugar-sprinkled Galletti, and rustic Campagnole.

The cookies can be found in the "International Foods" alcove, isolated in the front of the store and removed from the seemingly home-grown other foods. ;-)

These are just the types of Mulino BIanco cookies I bought. They had more varieties. If I recall correctly, their none-cookie Italian offerings did not do much for me.

This Wegman's also sells 12-oz. bottles of Mexican-bottled Coca Cola for just under $20 for a case of 24, which is a good deal.

Mar 04, 2012
MPH in New Jersey

Great Prices on Olive Oil and Italian Staples at Marrazzo's Thriftway in Ewing (Central Jersey)

I discovered this grocery store by accident after following another chowhound's recommendation of the bar food at Firkin Tavern (I did not have a good meal there).

The best buy at Marrazzo's is a 1-liter bottle of Frantoia olive oil for $22.99. I see it priced from $32-38 in the nearby area (although Princeton is very expensive).

Marrazzo's also carries 28-oz. cans of white-label "San Marzano" tomatoes—all styles: diced, crushed, and whole—for $3.89 a piece. Several other brands are available, too.

At Christmas, they had about six or seven types of panettone for sale. I don't remember seeing any of my favorite brands, but I appreciated the fact that they offered more variety than I saw elsewhere.

I also noticed that, in the deli section, they carry some pre-packaged cheeses from Di Bruno's in Philadelphia.

Mar 04, 2012
MPH in New Jersey

Neighborhood Chow Part I: French Place

Really good to know that Reggie has resurfaced. That man can really fry up some fish!

Jun 23, 2009
MPH in Austin

Breakfast Tacos and Migas in Austin

This is great news, if it's (still) accurate. Can anyone else confirm?

Jun 23, 2009
MPH in Austin

SA - Local Pizza?

I can offer another data point on Grimaldi’s at La Cantera. In my opinion, the best thing about the pizza was the fresh mozzarella, which tasted better than the type that is usually offered at local upscale-pizza shops. The worst thing was the crust. It was thin, dry, almost hard, and cracker-like. It was not airy (with virtually no air pockets or bubbles). It was not charred on the edges, though there were black charred spots on the bottom. The texture and blandness made it a chore to eat.

The red sauce was far too sweet, though I’ve had sweeter (like at the now-defunct Saccone’s in Austin). In addition, the Italian sausage is nothing like the kind served at Grimaldi’s in NYC. It’s the somewhat greasy, ground-up variety like—but not as bad as—the kind you’d get at chain pizza joints. While the S.A. Grimaldi’s got right the ratio of sauce, cheese, and topping(s) to pizza dough, I’d have to say that their pizza reminded me more of other Texas versions of New-York-style pizza (like at Home Slice in Austin) or high-end cracker-thin-crust pizzas (like at Enoteca Vespaio in Austin) than it did the pizza at the original Grimaldi’s. I was really disappointed.

That being said, the pizza available in San Antonio is pretty terrible, so I would certainly not turn down a free slice from Grimaldi’s in the future. However, I will not seek out their pizza again. For me, it was neither a missing link to, let alone a fulfillment of, the New York ideal that its brand and marketing promise.

Overall, when I’m looking to fulfill a need for San Antonio pizza that evokes the amazing pizzas that I used to get in New York or Naples, I would choose Dough. Their pizza is not as good as I'd hoped it would be. In my opinion, though, they make a pretty good pie that can approach the delicious simplicity of a Neapolitan-style pizza. (Disclaimer: I’ve only eaten at Dough twice, and this was a couple of months ago. I need to go back now that I’ve just returned from Italy before I post a full chow report.)

Jun 23, 2009
MPH in Texas

Tony C's Coal Fired Pizza

Brian and nypb, do they at least use fresh basil on the margherita? Or is it dried? If it's fresh, do they bake it (which basically makes it dried basil)? Or do they throw fresh basil on the pizza only after it comes out of the hot oven? I know this is a really specific question, but getting baked basil on a margherita pizza is a pet peeve of mine.

And what about the crust? Is it made with cornmeal?

Thanks,
MPH

P. S. Next week I’m planning to try Dough, which is a pizzeria in San Antonio that claims to make Neapolitan-style pizzas. If I do, I'll post about it on the Texas board.

Mar 19, 2009
MPH in Austin

Las Nenas Cafe San Antonio

You really are quite the 'hound, scrumptiouschef. I'm sure you know to bring plenty of cash for tips?

I can recommend the chow at Garcia's Mexican Food at 842 Fredericksburg. Great brisket tacos (the meat's smoked on site), huevos con chorizo, carne guisada, and pork-chop tacos. The flour toritllas are good, especially compared to what you can find in Austin. But the vibe at Garcia’s doesn’t quite provide the thrills you’d get if you checked out the. . . competition.

Sep 30, 2008
MPH in Texas

Tre-SATX

Yes, it is.

Sep 30, 2008
MPH in Texas

Pollo al Carbon in San Antonio?

There's actually an El Pollo Regio franchise at 2901 Fredericksburg, near the intersection with Babcock. I've checked it out, and their food is about as good as that served at my favorite Austin branch of El Regio. Better still, San Antonio residents don't have to drive all the way to San Marcos, which is closer to Austin, to enjoy ER’s famous grilled chicken, blackened onion, meaty frijoles a la charra, rice, corn tortillas, and fiery green salsa.

Sep 30, 2008
MPH in Texas

Smoked Boudin @ Willie's BBQ

Good stuff, isn't it? I haven't been to Willie's in a long time. Thanks for the reminder.

Sep 29, 2008
MPH in Austin

Trouble on the East Side? El Regio and La Regiomontana “Temporarily” Closed

Thanks for the update, El General, even though I'm reading it late. The past several weeks have been so crazy that I still haven't checked in on La Regiomontana—apparently, I also missed the notices about chowhound's major redesign. I thought I'd clicked on the wrong website.

Has there been any news on La Regiomontana since you posted on August 15?

Sep 29, 2008
MPH in Austin

Mexican Breakfasts in San Antonio

Guenther House does serve breakfast tacos, but they’re not very good compared to those served at places that specialize in Mexican breakfasts. However, GH makes delicious waffles and pancakes along with down-home Southern favorites like biscuits with sausage gravy. I think El Mirador would be an excellent choice for Tex-Mex/Mexican breakfast items, featuring local favorites like machacado, menudo, chicharrones, chilaquiles, as well as the usual breakfast-taco fillings. (Tip: Their tasty corn tortillas are made in-house; the flour tortillas are not—and they're nothing special.) EM also serves a few other types of breakfast items like oatmeal; pancakes; and an "El Tejano" plate with eggs, toast, and your choice of bacon, ham, or sausage.

I usually avoid overpriced hotel restaurants, but they do usually offer something for everyone. Las Canarias at the Omni Hotel does a very good buffet-style brunch on Sundays. Some of those same breakfast items (like their waffles or things like huevos mexicanos) should be available on an a-la-carte basis on other days of the week.

Aug 10, 2008
MPH in Texas

[SAT] Chef Chen's - Out of business??

I'm afraid that I have no information about Chef Chen's, aquahot, since I've never been there. I’m also assuming that Panda Express has no specific take-over plan for San Antonio; rather, there’s just not much of a market here for traditionally-prepared regional Chinese food. Or is that just what PE wants me to think? ;-)

In order to help us chowhounds find the good stuff, perhaps you and others would share your thoughts about where to find the best "authentic Chinese" in San Antonio? Suggestions on restaurants, markets, and specific dishes would be greatly appreciated.

Aug 10, 2008
MPH in Texas

Trouble on the East Side? El Regio and La Regiomontana “Temporarily” Closed

If your impression turns out to be accurate, Brian, that would be wonderful news. I would love to find out soon that La Regiomontana next door has (also?) re-opened.

I can confirm that the El Pollo Regio in San Marcos is open for business and is still operating under the same name. Their chow is discussed in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/426305

Aug 10, 2008
MPH in Austin

Lambert's

I'd agree with this. I took visitors to Lambert's for dinner a couple of times in the past few weeks. To me, their food seemed like a better version of what they serve at Moonshine: upscale Southern-comfort food served in an environment that seems familiar to those who dine at chain restaurants and yet translates as hip enough to appeal to those looking for something special. I don't have time to write a full chow report, so I'll just state that I also thought that the barbecue items (pulled pork, ribs) were bad—dry, no smoke flavor—and far too dependent on a very sweet house-made sauce to make them palatable. The items that I enjoyed the most were appetizers. I would re-order the crispy wild-boar ribs, which were glazed in a spicy-sweet sauce and come across as a variation on Buffalo wings, with the same garnishes of blue cheese and celery sticks. I might also re-order the spicy deviled eggs that were accompanied by “American caviar” and pickles. My reasoning here is: Who doesn’t like deviled eggs? Yet theirs were served much too cold (the flavors are best enjoyed slightly warmer) and had a filling that was good, but not great. In other words, the ones you make at home are probably better. I also sampled the beer-battered rock shrimp and chips, but I wouldn’t order this appetizer again. The few shrimp were tasty enough, but because the shrimp are literally mixed into the tall cone of fries, their fried batter steams in a way that is texturally unappealing. Their fries are more like British crisps than chips; in other words, they’re cut like our potato chips and on the crunchy side. On at least one visit, we ordered roasted green-chile queso for the table. The tortilla chips are thick-cut and freshly fried at the restaurant. To me, they were the best part of the dish. If you like a queso with no Velveeta but a ton of cream and mild cheese to simulate that bland taste, then you’ll like this one. Warning: The queso tastes a lot like the mac-and-cheese, so you might not want to order both dishes.

I already commented on the disappointing ‘cue. One evening, I noticed that there was an interesting-looking special of pork tenderloin served with a whole chile relleno on the side. As for their other main dishes, the steaks and fish looked good, but instead I went with a composed salad of three fried-green tomatoes, each carefully topped with jumbo-lump-crab salad and mizuna greens. Green Goddess dressing was drizzled around the side of the plate. The tomatoes themselves were cut a little too thick for my tastes (which means that they didn’t warm all the way through), but this was a solid, pleasing flavor combination. As for side dishes, the mac-and-cheese was very smooth and mild (as opposed to sharp), as discussed above; the collards were okay, but I was hoping for outstanding.

Desserts sampled included the fried blackberry pie with lemon ice cream; maple challah-bread pudding served with vanilla-bean ice cream and Bourbon hard sauce; and the chocolate peanut-butter cup. The fried pie wasn’t actually filled with berries and fried, as you might expect; it was almost like a blackberry compote with a fried, empanada-shaped piece of pie-crust thrown on top. The flavor of the crust was quite buttery, but its texture was way too soft. Still, I was glad I tried it. The bread pudding depended on the bourbon sauce and the cinnamon for flavor; texturally, it was very dense and springy, almost tough, as though it was overcooked and/or hadn’t thoroughly soaked in the liquid. The peanut-butter cup was the dessert most obviously designed to appeal to one’s inner child: It was very smooth, very creamy, and very sweet. It’s served in a parfait glass, too, which allowed me to observe that the dessert consists of a bottom layer of El Rey chocolate, a larger middle section of peanut butter chiboust [which is a crème pâtissière (pastry cream) lightened with whipped cream or stiffly beaten egg whites], and a topping of whipped cream. It does indeed evoke a very large, soft, Reese’s peanut-butter cup.

I should warn people that Lambert’s take on “comfort food” over-relies on sweet sauces and textural creaminess. Sometimes this works; sometimes it doesn’t. For example, one of the sauces on a meat dish approximates the “Jack Daniels” sauce served at some horrible chain restaurant. On the other hand, the peanut-butter cup was a lot more successful than I thought it would be.

I enjoyed my meals at Lambert’s, but this may also be because I was entertaining large groups who could easily find choices to suit all of their chow tastes. Plus, the mixed drinks were good. Some of their daily specials sounded excellent and unusual. However, in other ways, it seems like this kitchen is playing it too safe.

I’d choose Lambert’s over Moonshine or the Roaring Fork if I wanted this same kind of food and atmosphere—and I wanted to dine downtown. I still plan on checking out their Sunday buffet-brunch sometime. And I’d also again stop by in the evening for appetizers and drinks. But I wouldn’t order the ‘cue.

Aug 06, 2008
MPH in Austin

Tony's Southern Comfort - Closed

Perfectly put, Honey Bee. Reframing the discussion as "independent vs. delicious" is a false dichotomy. In context, I assumed it would be obvious that my post referred to the fact that our favorite mom-and-pop places need help during these tough economic times if they are to keep serving us their *delicious* food. Independent spots with bad grub are routinely written up as mediocre on this board.

To my mind, a more homogeneous restaurant scene is not in chowhounds’ best interests. In an interesting thread on the Not About Food board, a poster observed that with the tightness of credit markets today, the more restaurants that go under, the less likely it is that a bank will loan money to any new non-chain restaurants:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/510108

Tony's food may or may not have been getting worse right before they closed. I recall two or three reports to that effect, but I can’t speak to their accuracy, as I didn't observe firsthand any slippage in quality. However, I've always recommended Tony’s on this board because I thought they had the best fried chicken in town.

I also agree with what bookgrrl72 posted. A restaurant's financial success and popularity don't necessarily correlate with deliciousness. Off the top of my head, I can think of several “Austin restaurant legends” that deserve to have died off years ago.

I’m glad to hear, though, that Ben’s Longbranch may be close to re-opening. The remodeling had taken so long, I was beginning to think that I'd never see Ben’s doors re-open.

Aug 06, 2008
MPH in Austin

Tex-Mex on Austin’s Southeast and East Sides, Part 10

Update: Leo's Tacos y Supertortas is no more. In fact, they may not have ever gotten off the ground, which is too bad because the owner's family seemed very nice and the food (pre-opening) wasn't bad at all. It’s been replaced by Taquería La Bonita, which is the place that I witnessed being hassled by the city, as reported in the thread on the closing of El Regio and La Regiomontana (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/543309 ).

There's no posted information on the hours at La Bonita, and no one seemed to be in the mood to divulge business details. That was okay by me. The ambience is pretty stark: white walls, no plants, just a small TV in the corner. There's only one table plus a counter with some barstools against the windows. There’s no air conditioning, either. There is a menu on a white board hand-written in blue lettering that's faded so much that it's hard to read. The small kitchen has an order-up/pass-through window, which I began to approach, but the young woman came out to ask for my order. While waiting for my food, I watched the Spanish-language news with the one other customer. I had ordered a quesadilla filled with puerco al pastor and a taco of bistec [beef steak]. It took about 10 minutes for my food to be prepared. The quesadilla ($6.99) was the better of the two options. It was made with faux al pastor [by which I mean: not cooked on a spit] and a mild white cheese (probably Monterrey jack) on a grocery-store-type flour tortilla. Yet the fatty pork filling was flavorful enough from the use of chiles and other spices. My quesadilla was served with avocado slices and the iceberg-lettuce-and-chopped tomato mixture that often counts as salad in this context. There were also two condiments on the plate: a scoop of sour cream on one side and scoop of something red on the other. What a strange consistency for salsa, I thought. What could this be? Unfortunately, it was ketchup. Yes, ketchup. I covered it with a napkin so that I could pretend it wasn't there and finished my quesadilla. I *was* served salsa on the side. I just was also offered ketchup. The bistec taco was at best mediocre, even doused with their workman-like red and green salsas and a hefty dash of salt. It tasted like boiled beef. Mejor che nada [better than nothing], as they say, but not worth ordering again. This taco was served on doubled-up, non-oiled, store-bought corn tortillas that were better than I expected—especially after the shock of being served ketchup. But the tortillas couldn't make up for the filling.

Ketchup!

In the spirit of complete chowhound honesty, I will share that I was overcharged big time for the taco. When I was ready to pay, I was told that the bill came to $10. The quesadilla cost $6.99, which is already on the expensive side, so you can see why I was perplexed by this. Some polite discussion followed, and I was then quoted the right price. I still left a tip, too. I figured that the run-in with the Man must have shaken up the young woman who handled the orders. Still, I've eaten tacos all over town in some pretty surprising places. This was the first time that I’ve been overcharged.

La Bonita’s taco options are pretty much limited to steak, fajitas, and al pastor. They don't serve tortas, despite having taken over the space briefly occupied by Leo's. I noticed that they do offer several seafood dishes, which I didn't sample. They might be quite good. While I wish this restaurant well, I don't think I'd make a point of stopping there again if the menu stays the same. There are other places nearby (like Janitzio) where I prefer to go for seafood dishes, and plenty of places offer better tacos and quesadillas.

Jul 31, 2008
MPH in Austin

There Can Be Only One:Your Single Favorite Taco In Austin.

I agree that the bacon at El Rico is not to be missed. A hungry chowhound can add some strips to the potato-and-egg taco for over-the-top goodness, or go with the classic egg-and-bacon filling. Or maybe just opt for bacon with bacon. I look forward to your report on the taco cart that serves cabrito, scrumptious.

So glad you love this breakfast taco, too, Carter B. By the way, I was just trying to remember the name of that place in north Austin that you reported on in one of scrumptiouschef’s "go to a place that’s never been reviewed on this board" threads. I think you really liked their chorizo, if that helps. Do you remember the name of it? If so, have you checked out their tacos recently?

Jul 31, 2008
MPH in Austin

Tony's Southern Comfort - Closed

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Somewhere, tom in austin must be sensing this great disturbance. He loved Tony’s fried chicken.

I don't know how much more bad news I can take this week. First El Regio and La Regiomontana are closed, and now I lose my only decent fried-chicken connection. I shudder to think what’s next. I've heard anecdotally from small-restaurant owners that, with higher food prices and fewer customers eating out, it almost doesn't pay to stay open anymore. Even well-known places like San Antonio’s El Mirador are feeling the pinch. When this is over, all that's going to be left in this town are crappy chain restaurants and pretentious, overpriced boîtes with well-researched corporate "scenes" that lure in the droves of hipsters.

If you love great food but you've been eating out and chowhounding less because of high gas and commodities prices, when you do dine out, please try to patronize the independent shops that are barely getting by—even in the best of times.

Jul 31, 2008
MPH in Austin

Trouble on the East Side? El Regio and La Regiomontana “Temporarily” Closed

Well, there’s some good news, squertz. The Austin locations of El Regio were never listed on that website—at least for the past couple of years. The website would seem to have been set up by the Dallas-area and Round Rock franchises. So nothing has changed as far as that goes. But I like your idea of organizing in defense of taco trucks if there has been some kind of crackdown.

I've found no evidence to confirm that particularly ugly online rumor, and I hate to think of what might have motivated someone to post that. I did read in a Spanish-language local paper that, two years ago, the owners of the East Riverside location were being legally challenged for not paying overtime to some of their workers. There’s nothing to connect that report to their current closing, however.

It’s come up on this board before that Pollo El Regio has franchises in Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio, and other cities in the state. All franchises are independently owned, though individuals can own more than one location. It looks like for now we have to assume that the East Riverside restaurants, and any Austin El Regio branches owned by the same partners, are closed for financial reasons. I’m still hoping that it’s just temporary.

Jul 31, 2008
MPH in Austin

San Antonio Desserts

I'd agree with that statement about Nadler's, with the qualification that I think it's okay at best. I've got family who live nearby, and they drive right past it any time they need a cake or other dessert.

In the spirit of celebrating off-the-beaten-track deliciousness, why not pick up a bag of buñuelos at someplace like The Buñuelo Factory at 1905 West Avenue? Fried-until-crisp disks of dough topped with an absurd amount of cinnamon and sugar—what’s not to like?

Jul 30, 2008
MPH in Texas

La Traviata—Favorite Items Besides the Bolognese (and Carbonara)?

Oh sure. Taunt us about the cool weather and delicious panuchos that you get to enjoy. If only we were *all* lucky enough to chow down in the PNW.

I'll admit I did have you in mind when I wrote this, sambamaster. I like to think of what you might have done if served that day’s carbonara. :-D I couldn't even bear to look at it. But what can you do? Visitors keep asking to be taken out for Italian downtown, and Cibo has closed, so I thought I'd inquire about alternative menu options at LT. Even you might have liked their orange-ricotta cheesecake.

By the way, Salumeria Biellese delivers, and they make a lovely pancetta. . .

Jul 30, 2008
MPH in Austin

There Can Be Only One:Your Single Favorite Taco In Austin.

I will die of chowhound grief if I never again get to enjoy the tacos bañados at La Regiomontana. That’s the dish I was going to order the day I found the restaurant closed. After a long trip abroad, my first chow instinct was either to visit Taquería el Rico [but it was too late to hit that taco cart] or go for the powerful combo of El Regio/La Regiomontana. If the city had not run off Taquería el Rinconsito, it would have been on my radar, too.

I really can't pick just one taco unless we were doing a "best of its kind" discussion, so my choice is rather arbitrary. Still, I'll nominate the potato-and-egg taco at El Rico, which I plan to enjoy soon. This breakfast-taco filling is served everywhere—and usually badly. Most of the time, I’m pleased if I get a so-so version rather than a truly horrible one. The superlative rendition at El Rico, however, tastes so good that you’ll happily eat it on its own. Their taco-cart egg scrambling may leave something to be desired, but the lovely, flavorful potatoes and that touch of subtle spiciness added to the eggs more than make up for it. El Rico makes the only potato-and-egg taco that I've *ever* tried (and like scrumptious, I eat a lot of tacos) that made me stop still, sit up straight, and thank the chow gods for smiling on me. I'm tempted to keep going on and on, but instead I'll just link to a past rave:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/439939

Jul 30, 2008
MPH in Austin

La Traviata—Favorite Items Besides the Bolognese (and Carbonara)?

Thanks to both of you for the feedback. To think that after all this time, I still haven't tried the carbonara at Vespaio. I'll have to put that on my list. The puttanesca looked pretty good when someone at a nearby table ordered it, singlemalt. I'll have to give that a try, too.

Jul 29, 2008
MPH in Austin

Tex-Mex on Austin’s Southeast and East Sides, Part 9

When I was shut out of El Regio and La Regiomontana yesterday, I went by the new restaurant version of El Taquito. Despite the fact that the place still looked like a lunch rush had stampeded through there, the dining room was inviting. When I went by, the other guests consisted of three Hispanic families with young children and a couple of male workers on their way home. The design of the building suggests that it used to be a fast-food restaurant, but at least there are a lot of windows. Most of the walls are painted in bright yellow, with one wall in a lime green. There are black tables with chrome chairs throughout the dining room, with two TVs in different corners of the room. There are also a few outdoor tables that would be a nice option in cooler weather, since the restaurant is set back from the road. There’s plenty of parking available, too.

When you enter the restaurant, there will be a hallway to your right where the restrooms are located. If you’re ready to order, however, proceed straight to the counter. The menu is written above the register; there are also a couple of signs and a small board with additional items. You place your order at the counter for both dining in and take-out. Once you pay, you will be handed an itemized receipt with a number on it that will be called when your chow is ready. The friendly young woman who worked at the counter is completely bilingual. There’s a small salsa “bar” at one corner of the counter. The kitchen is open, so you can watch the young women at their work. One was prepping a small mountain of tripitas; one was chopping up twice as much fresh cilantro, and one was in charge of the grill.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until *after* placing my order that I remembered how much I love their crispy tripitas [which are like chitlins]. Really, El Taquito’s are the best ones in town. [For background on tripitas, see: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/524884 ]. Instead I went with two taco fillings that I’d tried before: the barbacoa and the carnitas. I ordered them on corn tortillas again, and the fillings hadn’t changed at all, so the above description in my OP [original post] still applies. That’s not a bad thing, since so many places go downhill. I will say that I appreciated the barbacoa even more this time, but this may be because it’s been a long since I’ve had it. I also tried a third taco of deshebrada that I believe was shredded pork, not the beef that’s more commonly served around here. This taco was solid, possibly even soulful, though a bit on the dry side. Still, it was a decent choice. Now that the restaurant lets you serve your own salsa, you can add plenty of flavor to any tacos that need it. ET makes, in house, a slightly chunky version of the standard fresh-tomato-based red table salsa with green chiles, onion, cilantro, salt, and usually a good squirt of lime (or sometimes vinegar) . El Taquito’s salsa had good flavor, good body, and good heat, but it also was well balanced. There was a thin, sour green salsa, too, but it was not memorable. FYI: If you want cilantro and onion on your tacos, just order them “con todo” [with everything]. In this case, “everything” is really just those two items. The type of tortilla you order and the way you want your tacos will be printed on your ticket, too, so you can make changes, if necessary, before your food is served. The tacos that I ordered cost $1.59 each.

El Taquito’s menu is pretty much the same in terms of taco fillings, but since opening their brick-and-mortar store, they’ve added a new menu of quesos. You can choose from quesos con rajas [with strips of poblano], con nopales [cactus], con champiñones [mushrooms], con jamón [ham], con chorizo, or queso fundido [like Mexican fondue, made from a mix of melted cheeses]. There’s also a small blackboard with additional items like guacamole, beans a la charra, aguas frescas [“fresh waters,” ideally made with real fruit, not a powder], and menudo, plus daily-special plates of enchiladas (with a chicken or cheese filling) or taquitos. When I visited, the available aguas frescas were horchata [the cinnamon rice-milk drink], melón [cantaloupe], or piña [pineapple]. The melón was so refreshing. I could have easily finished off a gallon of it, but I settled for one glass (for $1.62).

Considering how hard the city and the neighbors make it for taco trucks to even exist, it’s nice to see a taco truck that’s become so successful that the owners were able to open their own restaurant. This is a great development for their customers—and for savvy chowhounds who know better than to waste their money at the lame Taquería La Vallarta Jalisco across the street (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/358425) or the truly dreadful Baby A’s.

Jul 29, 2008
MPH in Austin

San Antonio -- Silo

BBTS, you hit the nail right on the head in your last sentence: "you're paying as much for the food as for whom you're NOT dining with." I got the same vibe at Biga on the Banks (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49334... ).

Thanks for the review, Nab. I liked the chicken-fried oysters (and not much else) on my last visit to Silo. In the few years since then, I've never felt the urge to return. Your review suggests that not much has changed!

Jul 29, 2008
MPH in Texas

ChowHound Assignment:Go A Place Never Reviewed On This Board.

Those gorditas at Portales do sound good. If I ever find the place, I’ll have to check them out.

FYI: A trailer next to what is now Taquería La Bonita appears to have been nonfunctional for at least a year. La Bonita is the place that was delivered a citation today (see this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/543309 ).

About a year ago, I tried Moy’s. I believe Nab checked it out about the same time. We both independently came to the conclusion that their food was nondescript. Here’s a link to that older thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/433261

Jul 28, 2008
MPH in Austin

Trouble on the East Side? El Regio and La Regiomontana “Temporarily” Closed

Pollo El Regio on East Riverside has a sign up saying that they are closed until July 28 for remodeling. Today’s the 28th, and they were not open when I drove by a few hours ago. I also didn’t see any evidence of remodeling. I’m also sad to report that La Regiomontana (also known as Taquería El Regio) next door has an undated memo on their drive-thru window saying that they, too, are not open for business because the owners asked the landlords to close temporarily. The note also warns people not to enter the property without permission and thanks the restaurant’s fans, saying that they will re-open in a few days. However, there’s no way of telling how long they’ve been closed.

When I checked out a new taquería on Montopolis, I noticed that a white city truck with the words “Code Enforcement” on its door was just departing . Another patron told me that a man had entered to hand the girls in the kitchen a yellow notice. Taquería Rodriguez, a taco trailer that operates in a convenience-store lot on East Riverside, also had a sign up stating that they were closed.

I can’t help but wonder if these closures, all in the same part of town, are related to some kind of citywide crack-down. Has anyone else noticed other closures on that side of town?

Jul 28, 2008
MPH in Austin