(Real) Mexican In The ‘Ham, Part 1

Last week, the biggest paper in the state came out with a listing of the best Mexican street food in B’ham.

First of all, really, I don’t know much of anything about ‘real’ Mexican food. Growing up, the best Mexican food I can remember was probably visiting the El Rancho, in Etter, Texas:

But maybe that was Tex-Mex.

Oh, and I *do* love the refried beans at the El Palacio in Huntsville. But that’s pretty much the only thing I like there now. And we occasionally go to various local Mexican restaurants, but I get the feeling that most of the time they’re as close to ‘real’ Mexican cooking as the candy-sweet Mongolian beef served at some Chinese restaurants around here are to ‘real’ Chinese food: not very.

So really, I don’t know the first thing about authentic Mexican food.

The first place we stopped was Taqueria La Reyna (702 Valley Ave). The tacos are $1.60/ea and we got one lengua and one pastor. The one on top is the lengua:

The one on the bottom was pastor (carved like gyro meat). These were served on one flour tortilla each.

Lengua is beef tongue. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to get all sicked-out by the idea of any of the fillings, just try to be adventurous, and the lengua turned out to be really good. If you ever go to a big-city deli, anyway, one of the meats they serve is tongue. Yeah. Anyway…

Next we went to Gordo’s (433 Valley Ave). We again took City Scene’s advice about what to order. We got cueritos (City Scene says it is like pork belly):

carnitas (this is something like barbecue meat. If you like barbecue, you will most probably like carnitas):

and carne asada (like steak almost):

All of that was *excellent*. Each of Gordo’s tacos is served on two flour tortillas – they were the best tortillas of the three places we went.

The last one on this trip was Taqueria Guzman (215 West Valley Ave – it’s a truck):

This is the artwork on the back of it:

We again took City Scene’s advice…

Cabeza (shredded meat from a cow’s head):

I don’t know if by the word “buche”, which City Scene advised was digestive tract, that they mean “chitlins”, but let me tell you, this was very chitlin-y. I remember my PawPaw telling me that when his mother, my MawMaw, would fix them that he would leave the house because they just stank up everything. Oh and they do. Definitely not my favorite. Av won’t even look at chitlins. Anyway, this is buche:


This truck served their tacos on two corn tortillas, which had a *lot* of corn flavor. Av decided that they had the best carnitas, but they would be perfect if served on Gordo’s flour tortillas.

Well, that was interesting. I started out thinking that that the word ‘taco’ generally meant ground beef with lettuce, tomato, cheese, some sour cream, salsa…probably in a hard corn shell. It’s not that way at all, really.

Okay! Part 2 is next week!

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