Montezuma’s revenge

A couple of <i>muy autentico </i>tacos from Tacos El Chilaquil.

A couple of muy autentico tacos from Tacos El Chilaquil.

Photo By lauren randolph

Tacos El Chilaquil

1825 Prater Way
Sparks, NV 89431

(775) 331-7211

Someone asked me recently if I thought it fair to review a restaurant after eating there only once. Maybe it isn’t, but what kind of disgusting, impoverished, fat body would I become if I doubled the amount I eat at restaurants? Well I’m a curious guy and decided to try this approach at Tacos El Chilaquil in Sparks.

However, if I’d known what would happen to my friends Matt and Jeff, I never would have gone back.

On St. Patrick’s Day, my wife, Kat, and I were driving along Prater Way looking for Mexican food. The fleet of taco trucks parked in front of Tacos El Chilaquil caught our attention. After parking and giving the place a good look, I almost wanted to drive on—though the dumpiness of a restaurant’s exterior really says nothing about what’s going on inside.

When Kat and I walked in, our reception was something akin to complete shock. I warned Kat she looked like a total gringa, but when she’s wearing her new cute blue shoes, nothing bothers her. We’d just disturbed the only customers in the place, three teenage boys, as they flirted with the young woman working the cash register. While they continued their conversation, a polite older woman with broken English delivered our menus, which were entirely in Spanish though accompanied by pictures. The only time the young lady was pulled from her admirers was to translate for the woman when I tried to order beer. Tacos El Chilaquil does not have any beer just yet, but they do have a salsa bar with some crunchy and spicy pico de gallo, which I devoured.

Kat ordered one chicken and one carne asada taco ($1.50 each) with a side of beans and rice ($2). Both tacos came heaped with meat, onions and cilantro. I was a fan of the grilled chicken, lightly chopped up and served salty, but the carne asada was quite dry and flavorless. The beans and rice tasted homemade, and though very simple, had a nice flavor. I ordered the ham torta ($4.50), which is essentially a grilled ham, lettuce and tomato sandwich. I’ve never had a torta before, but really enjoyed it, especially served on its crunchy white roll with fresh avocado, mayonnaise and a white cheese that tasted like Monterey Jack.

I went back to Tacos El Chilaquil a few days later with my coworkers Matt and Jeff. Jeff and I both ordered the chicken burrito ($4.50), while Matt had the chicken quesadilla ($4.50). We all happily put away our meals, which, considering their sizes and prices, are a steal. The chicken was done in a similar fashion to what Kat ate a few nights before, and we all spoke highly of it.

However, within five minutes of arriving back at our office, Matt locked himself in one bathroom while Jeff spent some time puking in the other. They came back into the office all teary-eyed, crunching on Tic Tacs and condemning the chicken. Although, to be fair, there are other possible explanations—like the stomach flu—for why they got violently ill, and I didn’t.

My stomach has been churning ever since. It got me thinking of the countless college students running amok this spring break on Mexican beaches. Assuredly, they’re enjoying lurid adventures the likes of which I will never see again. At least I had my own little Mexican adventure—and all the gut pain to prove it.