Just a couple of things to add to my review of Taqueria Jalisco, which ran Sunday. First of all, Kudos to the 8,000 or so eagle-eyed readers who pointed out that, yes, it's usually spelled "tostada," not "tostado," as I wrote it (twice!). I think I looked at that word 20 times while I was writing the review and simply looked right over the ending. Any way you spell it, the tostadas are quite good at Taqueria Jalisco.
I wanted to review another taqueria pretty soon after my very complimentary review of Chando's Tacos because there are several joints around town that are putting out some really good food, even if they don't look like much. Chando's, of course, is still right up there near the top of the food chain - the flavors of its meats are superb and the cooking is precise and unhurried. But Taqueria Jalisco is nipping at its heels and, hey, its location is super-easy for midtowners.
This review reminds me of the review I wrote a couple of years ago of House of Chicken and Ribs in Antelope. There, I was lucky enough to encounter the husband-and-wife team of Dwight and Kim Barnett. I described them thusly: "they just might be the nicest, most personable and genuine people you are ever going to find at a place with a counter and cash register."
And now comes Daniel Flores, who has been toiling at Taqueria Jalisco without fanfare for 15-plus years. His kindness and generosity are well known to his regulars - and his food is always good. This kind of personal service by a restaurant's owner is always a treat for me. I remember a couple of years ago, eating at Selland's Market CafÃ© and watching Randall Selland make the rounds at the tables, asking customers how they were enjoying the food. When it came time to leave after our own delicious meal, we were interested in buying a bottle of wine to take with us. Selland was by then behind the counter and he spent 30 minutes talking about the wines. It showed his passion and his commitment as well as his knowledge. I've recently had the pleasure of dining at Biba, where I saw Biba Caggiano demonstrate the same passion. Flores has that kind of belief in his business, though he is more low-key than the Barnetts or Selland and he doesn't have the aura of Biba. His personal touch is part of what makes his little business a special place and a special addition to the community.
Some readers occasionally wonder why I would review a taqueria or a rib joint when my column is generally devoted to fine dining. Here's why: my readers like bargains and little hidden treasures. Every once in awhile, I look for places that do really good food in humble surroundings, and charge low prices. Chando's, Boon Boon, Thai Thai Thai Express, Shoki Ramen House - these are places that don't pretend to be fancy or prestigious. But the food and, often the service, make them stand out from the crowd.
So, if you know of a bargain joint that is doing something special, drop me an email and I will check it out. It just might find its way into the newspaper in the months ahead.