The two Taco Jaliscos are Chattanooga treasures.
If you live in Chattanooga and love Mexican food, you’re probably already familiar with Taqueria Jalisco. If, however, you are one of the unfortunate souls who have somehow not had the pleasure of sampling their stunningly delicious food, I would like to take a moment to encourage you to run—don’t walk—straight to their doorstep and taste some of the best Mexican food in this area.
Jorge Parra and his mother Maria do not rely on gimmicks or strategies to set Taqueria Jalisco apart from the dozens of restaurants in town vying for your taste buds’ attention; they simply make very high quality and very delicious food. The menu is inspired by the street food and classic dishes of the Parras’ home state of Jalisco, Mexico.
Glancing at the menu, you’ll see many familiar items such as burritos, tacos and fajitas. But when you look closer, you quickly see that there are no typical, over-Americanized, Tex-Mex items and this is not a Taco Bell-style caricature of Mexican food. Maria does the cooking, develops most of the recipes and gives the food that family-style care only a mother can bring, while Jorge is the always-smiling face that runs the front of the house.
The menu carries a succinct selection of items you know and an ever-expanding selection of dishes you will want to get to know. Alongside the tacos, burritos and tamales (do not leave the restaurant without trying the mole tamales wrapped in banana leaf) are dishes like the huaraches.
“Huarache means sandal,” Jorge laughs. “They got their name because the masa is shaped like the bottom of a sandal.” The pillowy-soft, pan-fried corn tortilla is topped with their homemade refried beans, lettuce, freshly made pico, avocado, queso fresco (like a very mild feta), sour cream and your choice of meat. It’s like a big sopa in many respects, but could also be compared to a tostada, but on a soft, thick, oval tortilla instead of the crispy oversized chip that tostada ingredients usually set on. If you like your huarache super-sized, you can get the huatache con huevo. In case you weren’t paying attention in Spanish class, con huevo means with eggs, and in this case, it’s two over-easy eggs along with some grilled ham and avocado tomatillo salsa—because everything is better with ham and eggs.
Speaking of eggs, Taqueria Jalisco has a second location at Miller Plaza that serves lunch and breakfast. That’s right: breakfast. The Parras take their restaurant’s breakfast options beyond the typical huevos rancheros and their almost-famous $4 breakfast burritos. If you want to start your morning right, I recommend the oh-so-flavorful chorizo and eggs.
“We searched for a long time to find the right chorizo,” says Jorge. “We wanted it to have a lot of flavor but not a lot of grease, which took some time to find.” Their patience paid off with a chorizo that has just the right balance of heat and savory pork sausage flavor without the ubiquitous puddles of grease that most chorizo dishes are known for.
If your breakfast tastes lean towards more traditional Mexican fare, then the chilaquiles may be just the thing you’re looking for. Corn tortillas are cut into quarters, lightly fried and then simmered in freshly made tomato salsa that softens and soaks into the tortilla pieces. Eggs are then added to the mix before the dish is topped with a little cheese queso fresco and crema. Wash that down with a nice big cup of Velo coffee or a refreshing aqua fresca for a perfect first meal of the day.
Any discussion of Taqueria Jalisco would not be complete without at least mentioning the wide selection of meats you can choose for many of their dishes. The care taken to grind the chilis for the marinades, babysit the slowly braising or slow roasting meats, and meticulously shred each and every ounce of meat is apparent from the first bite. They even offer grilled poblanos and fresh, house-made nopales for the vegetarians at your table.
I couldn’t help but ask Jorge as I was leaving what surprises they had in store for the future. He says they will soon be starting construction on a larger location across the street from their Rossville Avenue store that will offer a broader menu of entrees and craft agave cocktails while maintaining the taqueria-style dishes that everyone loves.
Whether you’re in search of a delicious breakfast, a tasty lunch or a stunning dinner, one of the Taqueria Jalisco locations is certain to have you covered.