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Wed09182019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The al pastor taco

Where: Taqueria Tortilla Factory, 35270 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $2.99

Contact: 760-324-6505; taqueria-tortilla-factory.business.site

Why: It outshined the main course.

Sometimes, the supporting player outshines the star.

Such was the case during a recent lunch I enjoyed at Taqueria Tortilla Factory, located in a busy little strip mall in Cathedral City. I was trying to get over that terrible cold that’s been going around, and I was craving soup—specifically, that fabled cold remedy known as menudo.

I understand that menudo isn’t for everyone—the main ingredient is tripe, aka cow’s stomach—but when it’s done right, I think it’s delicious. I’d never had the menudo at Taqueria Tortilla Factory, and I’d heard good things, so I decided to give it a shot. I ordered it at the counter—and decided to add on an al pastor taco, because, well, tacos are delicious.

The verdict: The menudo was pretty darned good. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had—while the tripe, hominy and other ingredients were perfect, the broth could have been more flavorful—but it was enjoyable, and it was a welcome salve for my sniffles. After downing most of the bowl, I turned my attention to the taco.

Wow.

It was fantastic. The pork meat was delicious and just a little crispy—as good al pastor should be. Some might balk at the $2.99 price; while you can get cheaper tacos in town, those tacos likely won’t come with this amount of meat.

In addition to making its own fantastic tortillas (as the name makes obvious), Taqueria Tortilla Factory cooks up a wide variety of delicious food, from breakfasts to seafood plates to all the Mexican-restaurant standards one would expect. I am not sure what I’ll order on my next visit … but I am sure that I’ll add on an al pastor taco.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Tacos Al Pastor

Where: Jalisco Restaurant, 1605 Sixth St., Coachella

How much: $1.55; three-taco combo plate $7.25

Contact: (760) 398-7113

Why: It’s simply a perfect taco.

Being a West Valley resident, I don’t get a lot of chances to dine in Coachella. However, a recent business meeting afforded me the chance to have lunch in downtown Coachella—and considering the tacos I had at Jalisco Restaurant, I am now bemoaning my lack of East Valley dining opportunities.

I knew I wanted tacos, but wasn’t sure which tacos to try, so I got the three-taco combo plate—a steal at just $7.25. I had a lot of potential choices—Jalisco has about 14 tacos on offer, with options both locally common (pollo, carne asada) and not so common (beef brains!)—but I kept it simple and got one each with pollo, carne asada and al pastor.

On the English portion of Jalisco’s menu, al pastor is described as “marinated pork.” Yes, that’s accurate, but al pastor (literally translated: shepherd style) is so much more than that: The pork is usually slow-cooked on a rotisserie, much like shawarma and gyros meat is cooked. (In fact, it’s believed that pork prepared al pastor got its start in Mexico thanks to influences from Lebanese immigrants there.)

The pollo and carne asada tacos were both quite tasty. However, the al pastor was beyond fantastic: The meat was somehow both crispy and juicy—and, boy, was it packed with flavor.

It was sooooo good that I find myself trying to think of excuses to have more business meetings in Coachella. If you’re an East Valley resident, and you’re not enjoying the tacos el pastor at Jalisco Restaurant on at least a semi-regular basis, either you must be a vegetarian … or something must be wrong with you.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

Dear Mexican: I’m tired of debating pasty white-breads that the Camino Real has had people going back and forth across the border for more than 500 years—and that a fence is redundant, because people will always be crossing our southern border. The white-breads insist that the wall can end this traffic; I don’t think so.

What is your thought on the history of the Camino Real?

Blanco Beaner

Dear Gabacho: Which Camino Real are we talking about? The one that connected California’s missions and was romanticized by gabachos? The one that connected Texas’ missions? El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, which went from Mexico City to Santa Fe? Or El Camino Real, the chingón Fullerton eatery that’s the favorite Mexican restaurant of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant?

All of them reflect the same idea you allude to—that la frontera has had humans going back and forth for centuries, if not millennia, and that trying to seal off the border for good is as futile of an endeavor as getting Donald Trump’s mouth not to spew caca.

I was in San Diego recently renting a car when I mentioned I might be taking it down to Tijuana for the day. The nice man behind the counter asked me if I wanted to buy Mexican insurance. I thought that was a great idea.

Do you know if it’s available here in Denver? I’m sure I would feel a lot safer driving around the streets with that policy in my glove box!

Chubby Chubbys Chump

Dear Gabacho: You know, I was going to answer your question honestly—of course you can’t get Mexican insurance to cover you in the United States; it’s called Mexican insurance for a reason. And Mexican insurance really isn’t all that necessary in Mexico, if you have a $50 bill on you to pay off a cop—but now I’m thinking you’re just fucking with me.

May Peyton Manning choke again this season as punishment for your pendejadas.

I think, by law, all al pastor should be made traditionally—on a spit, topped with a fresh pineapple. Agreed?

Su Amigo, Otro Idiota con las Mejores Intenciones

Dear Friend, Another Idiot with the Best Intentions: Yes, and no. The Mexican personally thinks al pastor—the Mexican meat that involves packing together chunks of marinated pork on a spit, slowly roasting it for hours, and shaving off slices as needed—tastes best when topped with a pineapple, the better to have jugo de piña seep into the trompo. But be careful when you talk about traditions and Mexican foods.

As seemingly all hipsters found out this year after NPR and leeches—sorry, I meant millennial publications—did stories about al pastor’s origins, the tradition owes nothing to Mexico: It’s based on the shawarmas that Middle Eastern immigrants brought to central Mexico in the 1930s. All Mexicans did was substitute puerco for the original beef and lamb. And the original al pastor didn’t have pineapple—that’s a more recent addition dating back no more than 30 years, if that.

The only Mexican food law that should be enacted is a ban on anyone ever thinking again that celebrity chef Rick Bayless is an authority on anything other than his pocketbook.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican