Taquerias offer authentic Mexico taste

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom Newspapers

A taqueria is a small taco stand popular along the beaches and city streets of Mexico. In the High Plains, however, a taqueria is a brightly-painted restaurant offering authentic Mexican cuisine.

Taqueria Jalisco and La Espiga de Oro of Clovis and La Paz restaurante in Portales are not your typical area Mexican restaurants, most of which cater to the New Mexican palate. These taquerias serve dishes considered traditional in the inner parts of Mexico, and which, according to these owners, are starting to catch on here, too.

“People are seeking something different than enchiladas,” said Francisco Hernandez, co-owner of the brightly red and yellow painted Taqueria Jalisco on West Seventh Street.

Victor Holguin Sr., owner of La Paz, a small taqueria which he opened this past year next to his tire shop, said, “I think that Latinos come here because they want food like they have in Mexico, and Anglos want to try something different. They will try a new dish, like caldo de rez (a rice soup with beef) and then they’ll come back.”

Repeat business is also making Taqueria Jalisco a busier place since it opened its doors in 2005.

“Different people come here to try the food and see what kind of service we offer,” Hernandez said. “Our number of customers has slowly been building up. I’d say our customers are about 60 percent Latino and about 40 percent gringo.”

Hernandez and Holguin both call Mexico home. Hernandez hails from Jesus Maria, Jalisco, and Holguin is from La Paz, Chihuahua, the namesake of his restaurant.

Nopalitos, or deep fried cactus, is a unique dish which Taqueria Jalisco serves up. Hernandez said the nopalitos are more popular in the Lubbock area, where his co-partner and brother, Miguel, runs another restaurant. Other unique dishes that have become popular at Taqueria Jalisco are carne al pastor, which is small slices of pork marinated in red sauce; tripas, which are small intestines that are battered and deep fried; a parillada platter of fajitas and horchata, which is a Mexican, rice-based drink.

Over at La Paz, Holguin and his crew serve up dishes such as barbacoa, which is Mexican barbecue; menudo, a spicy stew with tripe and hominy that is served on the weekends, tortas and chicharron, which is crackling pork or pork rind. He also serves Coca-Cola bottled in Mexico and Mexican fruit drinks, which he said have a distinct flavor because they are sweetened with sugar cane.

Due to its increased customer base, La Paz has gone from two to six employees and Taqueria Jalisco now employees eight.