Deliciously solid food

A liquid diet is like Muzak. You recognize some of the flavors and occasionally get a small chunk of something that resembles real food. In the end, however, the blended, frothy mixture is nothing like the meal it was meant to be.

I comment on this after spending a week in the wake of having my wisdom teeth pulled. I considered writing last week’s review as a comparison of the various mashed potato cups and apple sauces on the market, but thankfully our editor saved me, and you. (For the curious, Trader Joe’s mashed potato cup with broccoli bits [easily gummed] and cheddar cheese was my favorite).

Since my parents suffered through the first few post-op days with me, I decided to re-pay them by treating them to a meal of thanks. Unfortunately, my niece wasn’t feeling too well, so mom, ever the nurse, decided to stay home. I was running late, with a deadline rapidly approaching, so Dad and I loaded up and headed to Jalapeño Joe’s.

Although it’s a new restaurant to Reno, Jalapeño Joe’s comes with a little history. For years, the residents of Incline Village, construction workers and Ferrari drivers alike, have flocked to a place called T’s Rotisserie. From its opening, the place was a hit, packed at lunch and dinner with people looking for quick meals at inexpensive prices.

The menu and décor at Jalapeño Joe’s are virtually identical to T’s. This is not surprising considering that one of the original owners of the Incline restaurant is the proprietor of Joe’s. There are some differences—most notably the addition of rice bowls ($4.50-$6.95) and mahi mahi and ahi to the choice of meats. Ordering is pretty simple: You choose a burrito, tostada, taco, rice bowl or meal; then you choose what kind of meat—or the absence thereof—you want, and you’re done.

My dad chose the quarter tri- tip meal ($5.95). It was served with rice, beans, tortillas and a choice of salsas from the salsa bar. Wanting as much textural variety as possible, I decided on the chicken tostada ($4.95).

Dad and I chose a table inside the small dining room, where there is also counter space available in front of the rotisserie. Décor is minimal, and tables are simple—this is a no fuss restaurant.

My tostada was huge, a pile of lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole (an extra), beans, rice and chicken on top of a crispy tortilla. The chicken was not of the shredded variety; rather, there were huge, tender chunks scattered throughout the dish.

I know it’s silly, but whenever I eat with my dad, I try to clean my plate. It goes back to the family dinner table, I suppose, where he was quite a proponent of the clean-plate club. But this was just too much food, even for my eager appetite. I stopped short of finishing it. Maybe this is a sign of growing up.

My dad’s food looked good as well. The tri-tip was sliced about a quarter-inch thick, really crisp on the outside, but pink and tender within. It was a good-sized serving and, of course, he finished it all.

We washed down our meals with a beer and waited for a take-out meal for my mom. Judging from the crowd on a Thursday night, Jalapeño Joe’s has made the transfer to Reno with its values intact: good food and large portions made quickly to order, all at a reasonable price.

I just wonder how one of their burritos would taste liquefied.