Los Gallos Taqueria440 N. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89501
When my wife, Kat, and I decide to eat out, the conversation always starts like this: “Kat, where do you want to eat?” To which she replies, “Anywhere but Mexican.” Ah, she knows me too well. I would eat burritos and tacos every day if I could, and now Los Gallos Taqueria has found a place on my short revolving list of Reno favorites.
On the lofty recommendation of a friend who knows tacos, I met Kat, her sister, Kimberly, and their mom, Pam, there for lunch last Monday. I arrived before them and immediately ransacked the serve-yourself chip and salsa bar. The sweet and icy horchata ($2.50) I ordered was waiting for me when I returned to the table clutching an overflowing basket of warm chips and four cups each full of a different salsa. The pico de gallo was a thing of sheer beauty.
Los Gallos has a thing for Jalisco’s San Jose de Gracia church and has adorned nearly all the walls with what’s surely the world’s largest photo and poster collection of the place. However, on the center wall sits the restaurant’s namesake, a ginourmous photo of two magnificent cocks, wings outstretched, about to tear into each other in front of a crowd of enraptured spectators. Kimberly, lover of animals, was appalled. What Los Gallos lacks in creature comfort, it makes up for in culture.
With four of us dining, we got to order a little of everything. Pam picked the regular burrito with chicken ($5.50), a substantial flour tortilla filled with rice, beans and salsa. Kat ordered the carnitas plate ($9.50), which comes with rice, beans, lettuce, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and tortillas. Kimberly picked the single enchilada plate ($6), which comes with all the same sides as Kat’s dish. I went with the carne asada super taco ($2.50)—two stacked corn tortillas overflowing with meat, onion, cilantro, salsa, cheese, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream—and the grilled chicken torta ($4.75)—a grilled chicken sandwich with lettuce, cheese, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.
Meat stands at the top of Los Gallos’ strengths. They serve 11 different animals and animal parts, of which I tried the four most conventional. Each was masterfully seasoned and prepared, particularly the grilled chicken on my torta that oozed wonderful meat juice. I even enjoyed Pam’s boiled chicken, a preparation I always avoid because lesser places serve it up bland and waterlogged. Kat’s carnitas were mostly spectacular melt-on-your-tongue pieces of fried pork, but occasionally I’d grab a bite and damn near break a tooth on a petrified little bit.
Apart from meat, Los Gallos makes some rockin’ guacamole and pinto beans. Guacamole is only palatable if fresh, and Los Gallos’ was so good we ordered a side ($2) for our chips. Further, Los Gallos’ beans are not the refried, mashed up and covered with greasy cheese mess to which we’ve grown accustomed. Nope, these are honest-to-goodness whole beans, in a light tomato sauce with lots of seasoning.
Of course, everything isn’t perfect about Los Gallos, the king offender being sour cream. It dominated my super taco and did its darnedest to overpower all the savory fillings in my torta. The other detractor was salt. Nothing was salted to ruin, but everything was way beyond reasonable sodium levels.
Right at the top of its menu, Los Gallos claims, “We are not the only ones, but we are the best.” I usually hate superlatives and was tempted to say, “Nah, those cocks are just strutting their stuff and running their mouths,” but give it a try and you’ll see there’s an element of truth to it.