Third-generation goodness

Taqueria Jalisco

Jalisco’s tacos took second in SN&R’s Best of Sac.

Jalisco’s tacos took second in SN&R’s Best of Sac.

photo by Scott Duncan

Good for: Asada tacos, chile verde
Mexican, Midtown

Taqueria Jalisco

330 16th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 446-4834

I like to order burgers at Mexican restaurants, and I had heard rumblings about Taqueria Jalisco’s burger. And by “rumblings” I mean my husband told me that their burger was good and I finally got around to trying it a year later.

Why Mexican burgers? My motto: Give me your unadorned burger, your bacon-free burger, your simple burger yearning to breathe free of pretentious terms like “aioli” when “mayo” will do. Mexican joints often offer a burger like this, and Jalisco’s ($5.99) is a great example. The patty is medium thick, rough-hewn and juicy. I’ll allow for the terrible orange tomato because the airy bun holds up till the last bite. I posted a pic of mine on Instagram, sans identifier, and burger savant Rodney Blackwell of Burger Battle fame ID’d it within minutes and said that he, “loves it when a non-burger restaurant takes pride in their burger offerings.” That’s like Ebert praising your student film.

Owner Danny Florez is pleased, but not surprised when I share this compliment from the Burger Boss. He takes great pride in the quality of the meat at his restaurant, and his burger sales more than quadrupled when he switched from a pre-made patty to this rustic version a few years ago.

He takes pride in everything about his restaurant, which was opened by his grandmother in 1974, and which he bills as “Sacramento’s first taqueria” on the menu. His son and daughter, both employed at Jalisco, represent the fourth generation of the family to work there.

He has much to be proud of, and his customers agree. His tacos took second place in SN&R’s “best tacos” Reader’s Picks category in 2017, behind Chando’s. His carne asada street taco (all “street tacos” are $2.90) is my favorite around. It’s lightly salted so the quality of the meat and the roasted tomato salsa shines through. The pliable, soft tortillas are purchased from a preferred vendor in Modesto, and brushed with garlic before they’re grilled.

The carnitas on the taco exhibit a pleasing interplay between the orange juice marinade and a judicious use of garlic, even if they don’t quite achieve the crispy/fatty texture that has made La Esperanza justly famous. The chunky al pastor again lets the quality of meat shine, with just enough spice to offset a bit of sweet pineapple.

Did I mention that this place sells margaritas ($8)? With tequila—not that gross, wine-based stuff. And it has a couple of taps of local beer in addition to the standard taps such as Modelo. I have a new (to me) neighborhood spot that my rumbler, er, husband and I can agree on.