500 Tacos: Taquerias Las Chivas Jalisco

A taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Taquerias Las Chivas Jalisco
8624 N. Lamar Blvd. (map), 512-490-6714. Hours: 7:30am-midnight Mon-Thu; 7:30am-1am Fri-Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 05.28.15
Two surprises waited for me on a languid Thursday afternoon at Las Chivas. The first? Goats in the name, none on the menu. It’s more about the Guadalajara fútbol club. The second? Nothing. Just a full body-armor raid by the Sheriff’s Department on the gaming parlor next door, with a badge-flashing deputy banging on my car window, telling me to jump the curb and get the hell outta the way. As far as places to wait out a police action, Las Chivas don’t need no stinking badges. As a taqueria? Just hand over the tacos and nobody gets hurt. 
The taco: Trio of mini-tacos
Tripas, suadero, campechano. There are days when you want one of each. Las Chivas steps in with mini-tacos for $1.25 apiece, all of them dressed with onions and cilantro. They’re piled high at that price, supported by 3.5-inch corn tortillas, doubled-up and dragged through hot oil to soften them up. The tripas are as crisp and chewy and almost as cheesy tasting as broiled elbow mac and cheese, and the campechano is a spicy union of ground chorizo and seared beef. The suadero looks fatty and loose, but its salt and pepper simplicity reminds us that we like our brisket fatty here, whether it’s barbecue or tacos.
 Trio of full-size tacos: Pastor here is pork’s answer to the Sloppy Joe, heavy on the paprika, garlic and sweetness. Over-marination has turned the sliced pork the texture of ground beef, but the saturated flavors have created a magic of their own. Barbacoa is salty and fatty, but mild to the point of roast beef. Beef fajita meat is gristled and chewy, chopped into bits so small it’s like they cooked the trim left over from more showy iron-skillet fajitas. ($2 each)
 Migas: This robust scramble of eggs, pico de gallo and crisp tortilla pieces would be a showcase if it hadn’t brought so much of the charred scrap from the grill with it. ($1.59, served all day)
 Tortillas: Las Chivas makes its own corn tortillas. They’re thin and elastic but strong enough to make single-layer tacos. They could use more time on the flat-top to bring out a promising undercurrent of sweet corn. Flour tortillas and the corn mini-tortillas are storebought.
 Salsa: Oregano is cilantro’s more aromatic and stable cousin, and it lends a refreshing herbal grassiness to the mild onion-and-tomato salsa fresca at Las Chivas. There’s also a tangy, mild, emulsified jalapeño green and a hot, sparky blend of tomatillo and chile de arbol.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)