El Volcan Taqueria only recently opened in its new location off the southwest corner of Sparks Boulevard and East Prater Way. Some online mapping services still incorrectly place it in its old location off Vista and Baring boulevards—a fact which gave this reviewer fits not long ago. But now that the hard work of finding it is done, recommending El Volcan is completely easy.
Since it was my first visit, I can’t compare locations, but the place is easily visible on the south side of Prater, has plenty of parking and well-spaced seating, although there’s only one outdoor table. It’s clean, but decorations might still be ongoing. It’s small-scale cafeteria style, where you order and pre-pay, and the food is brought to your table.
My husband and I dined with our friend Monica, who has recently served as our Virgil, guiding us through the deep and arcane strata of Sparks. We made out like bandits on portion size and quality. My basic bean, cheese and rice burrito ($5.25), which came with lettuce, onions and guacamole and sour cream for no extra charge, could have fed all three of us, and much of it was either pilfered by my husband or taken home, where it was a serviceable lunch the following day. Monica’s carne asada ($8 .99)—grilled beef flank with beans and rice and wheat tortillas for making fajitas—was wonderful, the steak in particular, but the quality was bested by the immense size of the helping, the majority of which accompanied her home.
My husband’s experience was a peculiar inversion of this pattern, and the only foible of our meal. His fish taco ($2.50), though flavorful, was no more than a half dozen pebbles of fried whitefish on two silver-dollar-sized soft shells, and his two-cheese-enchiladas combination came with sufficient rice and refried beans, but the condiments were heaped over what amounted to two little raviolis—as if to hide the latter’s shame. As some astute readers of these pages will have deduced by now, my husband revels in Review Night, and had timed his late afternoon workout so as to be ravenous. Thus the hungriest person, who ordered two dishes, ironically had about half the food of anybody else. Not that he starved. He apparently personalized one of his recent lectures on Marxism, and kept “requisitioning” wealth from my plate and “redistributing” it to his.
But we took this in stride. One of the highlights of our night was interacting with Veronica, our diminutive but ubiquitous server-cashier. After we had introduced ourselves, she instantly began addressing us by name when asking about our views of the food and quickly attending to our various requests. She even gave my husband a crucial pointer on making proper Spanish rice. (Out of respect, I will not repeat the secret here.)
El Volcan has all the standards, and few surprises. Tacos are $1.25; chicken or beef fajitas combinations with rice and beans are $8.99. Seafood specials, such as the Camarones al Mojo De Ajo (garlic shrimp—$10.99) are a little steeper. The beer selection leaves nothing to chance with Corona, Dos Equis, Negra Modello, etc. And I love that you can take the culinary-challenged there and pacify them with a burger ($7.99) while you’re piling on the salsa.
This is not the first time a peripheral Sparks establishment has impressed me, and I think with places like El Volcan and others available one can really see the argument for Reno residents to drive a little farther for smaller crowds, easy parking, and a great value in dining.