La Oaxaquena Tacqueria has been on my “list” since the original paper list that was in the trunk of my car, back in 2006. But Jonesboro is just not a place that we often get to. Today, while we were wandering around on the south side of Atlanta, I declared (silently, to myself, in case it didn’t work out) that today would be the day.
I found that it has moved, in the last nine years, from the address I had on my list, but just a few doors down. The building in which it resides was, obviously, a former fast food restaurant, but we couldn’t decide what it had been. Walking in the door, we were confronted by this counter and the cornucopia of food options available on the signs above it.
We were a little confused about whether we ordered at the counter and then sat, or vice versa. In a sudden moment of clarity, I made a bee line for the mens room and left my beloved to figure it out….
Opposite the counter is the “sauce station” (that’s my name for it).
There are no names on the sauces, so it was a bit of guessing, combined with talking with our server, which identified them. We ended up sampling four of them:
- a creamy guacamole (6 – if numbered left to right) which was a cooling accompaniment to some of the others;
- a salsa verde (4) which was slightly smoky;
- a habanero (5) that had a nice bite to it; and
- my favorite, a chili sauce (2) which had quite a kick. We later found that sauce to be called “chiles de Diablo”. How appropriate.
(The prices above the sauces are for carry-out container sizes – they don’t charge extra for sauces on dine-in orders, or for small plastic containers for carry-out). There are also random vegetable on the top serving as additional condiments.
While we snacked on chips and an assortment of salsas, we worked our way through the menu. As usual, I over ordered. I started with an Oaxaquenan style Al Pastor taco. They have both Oaxaquenan-style (cilantro and onions on a flour or corn tortilla) and American-style (lettuce, tomato, sour cream and cheese on a flour or corn tortilla) tacos. Al Pastor is the Mexican version of shawarma – pork, seasoned with pineapple, chiles and spices, cooked on a vertical spit (like you would see gyro meat at Great Wraps at the mall). From reading on line, it seems that this style of preparation came from Lebanese immigrants to Mexico, attempting to emulate their preparation style with available ingredients.
I ordered my taco without onions, but it had plenty of cilantro, along with a lime. Adding a little of the chiles de Diablo sauce and lime juice made for one delicious taco. The pork was crispy and you occasionally found a bite of pineapple.
I also ordered a barbacoa de chivo (barbecued goat) taco,
which was served with a lime and, oddly, a radish. It was good – the cilantro didn’t mix as well with the goat as it did with the pork (to me) – but the Al Pastor was better. While I was enjoying the tacos , Jo had a grilled chicken sope, a small fried round corn patty, with beans, cheese, lettuce and cream. I failed to get a picture of this but, visually, it was a cross between my next two plates. The corn patty was fairly thick, but the dish was tasty.
I also had an Al Pastor huarache. The huarache (yes, that’s the same name as the sandal, as the fried oval tortilla resembles the sole of a sandal), like the sope and the tlayuda (to come) – and burritos and gorditas – are all considered “street food”.
This was very good, particularly when my love shared her smoked jalapeños and I added some sauce. I cleaned this plate and would readily order it again. The sweetness in the pineapple mixed delightfully with the heat from the other components.
And then arrived the king of a the table, the tlayuda. The difference in the tlayuda, huarache and sope had to do with the thickness of the corn tortilla (as listed above from thickest to thinnest), the overall size and the toppings. What we didn’t expect was that this plate was huge – it had, easily, a twelve inch diameter.
Covered with grilled chicken, refried beans, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, radish, smoked jalapeños and string cheese, this was both the completion of the real estate on the table and the best dish of the meal. I watched the carry out, from where I sat, and most of the meals leaving had at least one pizza box containing a tlayuda. We couldn’t finish it all (we did clean most of the rest of the plates), so we took a little less than half home and I ate it while watching basketball. The jalapeños, along with the habanera sauce were cooled by the avocado and cheese.
This was an excellent meal, with a total tab of under $35.00. I wish I had experienced my “first” visit years ago. Now, when people ask about my favorite Mexican restaurant, I’ll have to think, then ask what part of town they’re dining in.