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Birmingham real tacos

Big Daddy Jun 3, 2008 02:25 PM

Made a trip to Gordo's on Valley Avenue today. They may have some of the best real tacos in town.
I got three: carnitas (twice-cooked pork), cabeza (beef head meat/cheeks) and lengua (tongue). Generously filled for $1.60.
They also have a little bar for dressing your tacos, with diced onions, minced cilantro and four or five different kinds of salsa.
Carnitas is usually my favorite, but it came in third today. Loved the lengua and the fatty cabeza. I dressed them all in a spicy verde salsa with pico de gallo.
They had four or five other fillings in addition to the ones above, including al pastor, tripe, chicken, one that looked like sausage (chorizo? although it was called something else) and another I didn't recognize.
It's definitely a popular place with laborers, who always crowd the place at lunchtime, and Latino/Mexican families.
Taqueria Mi Casita in Homewood and Taqueria Mexico in Hoover also are favorites, but for sheer variety and size, Gordo's has them beat.
Got any other favorites out there?

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  1. Dax RE: Big Daddy Jun 4, 2008 08:39 AM

    Per this thread http://www.chowhound.com/topics/429277 my two tacos at San Miguel last week were really good. The carnitas was a little dry but there must have been a 1/4 lb of it on that taco. Al pastor was better than the carnitas. I need to try Gordo's again. It's interesting they had carnitas as they told me they only had it on the weekends.

    19 Replies
    1. re: Dax
      Big Daddy RE: Dax Jun 4, 2008 01:46 PM

      Is San Miguel in the plaza with the county tag office?

      1. re: Big Daddy
        Dax RE: Big Daddy Jun 4, 2008 02:30 PM

        No, but it is on Greensprings between West Valley and whatever that street that Mi Casita is on. across from the autozone

        1. re: Dax
          Big Daddy RE: Dax Jun 5, 2008 07:56 AM

          Cool. I'll have to check it out. Do they have tortas, too?

          1. re: Big Daddy
            Dax RE: Big Daddy Jun 5, 2008 09:06 AM

            Yes, I almost got one to go but was pretty full by the time I had eaten the two tacos and 1/2 of a bahn mi.

            1. re: Dax
              Big Daddy RE: Dax Jun 7, 2008 06:10 AM

              I went to San Miguel. You're right about the generously filled tacos there. I had cabeza and carnitas and both were very good, especially with that hot green salsa they bring out with them.
              I really enjoyed the two kinds of salsa they brought with the chips.
              I also had one of the tostadas de ceviche de pulpa, and it was killer. The octopus ceviche was very tasty (lime juice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro). The tostada had mayonaise on it, which made me suspicious at first but ended up being delicious, almost like a salad dressing. The whole thing was topped off by an avocado slice. Very nice. They also do ceviches of shrimp and fish (not sure what kind) on tostados.
              I plan to go back and try the dinner menu, especially the rellenos and quail. Fish and shrimp dishes also looked good, especially with the mojo de ago.

              1. re: Big Daddy
                Dax RE: Big Daddy Jun 8, 2008 11:15 AM

                Love the salsa verde, nice heat to it. And yes, the two salsas, one with a little heat, is a nice touch.

                1. re: Dax
                  SkippyLeBeef RE: Dax Jun 17, 2008 08:17 AM

                  My wife is from Mexico. We covet Gordo's.

                  1. re: SkippyLeBeef
                    Big Daddy RE: SkippyLeBeef Jun 17, 2008 09:23 AM

                    Where from Mexico is she? My family's from Guadalajara, but that was nearly a century ago (they backed the wrong side in the revolution).
                    Where else in town does she like to eat/shop for "home cooking"?

                    1. re: Big Daddy
                      SkippyLeBeef RE: Big Daddy Jun 17, 2008 10:50 AM

                      She was born in Delores, which is sister town to San Miguel de Allende. Her folks moved to TX when she was 7. When we don't want to drive all the way to Gordo's in Helena (the closest to us) we end up eating tacos at the Taqueria in Hoover in the strip mall across from Best Buy on Lorna. The one by Gabriel's bar. We also get cravings for Michelattas, the beer/tomato juice/clam juice concoction. The best ones are at Mexico Lindo on 31 at the Hoover/Vestavia line by I-65. The chicken tinga tostadas there is out of this world too.

                      1. re: SkippyLeBeef
                        Big Daddy RE: SkippyLeBeef Jun 17, 2008 01:54 PM

                        That taqueria you mention is Taqueria Mexico. One of my favorites, too. When I worked in Hoover, I used to go there regularly for lunch. Very nice people there, too.
                        I'll have to check out the Mexico Lindo. We used to go to the one off U.S. 280, and have enjoyed its sister restaurant Zona Rosa, as well.
                        I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of beer/tomato juice/clam juice. I'll have to give it a try.

                        1. re: Big Daddy
                          SkippyLeBeef RE: Big Daddy Jun 18, 2008 07:41 PM


                          1. re: SkippyLeBeef
                            Big Daddy RE: SkippyLeBeef Jul 30, 2008 01:45 PM

                            If you ever find yourself hungry for tacos in Center Point, check out San Marcos, (1857 Center Point Parkway, just past Polly Reed Road). Small, simple restaurant in the market/carniceria that sells tacos, tortas, etc. Tacos are $1.50 each and loaded. The al pastor was the best I've tried around town (to many are too sweet). They have the usual carnita, cabeza, tripa. But they also have higado (liver), which I don't see too many places.

                            1. re: Big Daddy
                              Big Daddy RE: Big Daddy Aug 24, 2008 05:13 PM

                              I've been on a taco tear lately, sampling what's available around town.
                              Once again, I must sing the praises of Taqueria Mexico on Lorna Road, in the plaza across from Best Buy (a favorite of Skippy LaBeef). I've been going there for years and it's consistently been among the best in town. There's a limited selection of meat, but the three tacos ($1.60 each) I had on a recent visit -- chicharon, lengua and carnitas -- were all among the best of those meats I've enjoyed recently. Nice-sized portions and the tortillas are house-made, too. (Tortas also are good, for a mere $3.50). Menu includes cabrito and quail.
                              I also made a run through the Bessemer area, and a must-stop place for tacos is La Perla on U.S. 11, west of town. near 9th Street. It's a market/taqueria run by a really friendly guy named Andy. The al pastor was stellar, much more spicy than sweet. The tongue taco ($1.50) also rocked. Nice selection of fillings, including a sausage that sounds like an offal-lover's dream.

                              1. re: Big Daddy
                                Big Daddy RE: Big Daddy Jan 24, 2009 08:44 AM

                                Anyone been to Gordo's lately? They have started putting labels on the glass protecting the steam table, translating the various taco fillings from Spanish to English.
                                My visit today was another amazing experience. The carnitas were crispy and flavorful. The tripa was crunchy from being fried, with a nice beefy taste. The cueritos (pork skin) were rich beyond imagination. Mmmmmmmm pork skin.

                2. re: Big Daddy
                  Dax RE: Big Daddy Apr 21, 2009 01:19 PM

                  Weird, last night's carnitas (as taco filling) at San Miguel were even crispier than before. The carnitas prep at Gordos is far superior.

                  The cabeza ... this is only about the 3rd time I have had it (here in a taco, otherwise in tortas) and I guess it's just not my thing? The cabeza at San Miguel was mostly fat (and I heart me some fat, particularly the melty fat you get with carnitas) and the smell was a little offputting. One bite I was squicked out enough to stop eating the taco.

                  The al pastor taco was ... different this time as it actually had chunks of pineapple served with the meat. I mean I know the prep includes pineapple as part of the recipe, but an actual chunk was too sweet for me (I love fresh pineapple but cooked is weird).

                  When ordering I asked if they had chorizo and she replied yes and it was very good. It was fine just bland on the taco.

                  Salsa verde was also bland. That was pretty much 0 for 4, but it only cost $7 before tax, tip, & drink so who cares.

                  Drove past La Reyna and need to try that joint.

                  1. re: Dax
                    Big Daddy RE: Dax Apr 22, 2009 07:56 AM

                    Definitely try LaReyna. It's fallen off a bit, too (the last tripa taco I ordered there was a bit off-putting). But they still have fresh-made tortillas and they do the pastor on a spit.
                    Also, try LaReyna's sope; a handmade masa "plate" with the fillings piled on top. Great late-night munchie.
                    I agree about the pineapple in the pastor, which is one reason it was not one of my favorites at first. Like you said, it makes the whole thing too sweet. I think it's the lazy way of making sweet-and-hot pork.
                    As for the cabeza, I hope you did not get an "old head." Sometimes it can be fatty ( like at Hacienda), which can be off-putting. (And this is coming from a guy who loves the pork-skin chiccharon and cueritos tacos which are almost pure fat.)
                    Have you tried Taqueria Mi Casita yet? It's near San Miguel, in the Palisades plaza where the Wal Mart grocery is.
                    After the county nailed San Miguel's management a few times I wonder if they have new people in the front and back.

                    1. re: Big Daddy
                      Dax RE: Big Daddy Jun 14, 2009 05:56 PM

                      Just got back from LaReyna. The house made corn tortillas were a little thicker than others so they only used one for each taco. Best tortilla I have had here. Chips and salsa were ok, the salsa verde was excellent and a little spicy. There was a red sauce that had a nice chipotle kick to it. Very good pork tamale with some heat. Tacos were just meh, as far as the fillings (chorizo, al pastor with chunks of pineapple and carnitas that was a bit bland). I might see about buying tortillas and tamales here and carnitas from Gordos to assemble tacos at home.

                      1. re: Dax
                        birminghamvisitor RE: Dax Jun 14, 2009 06:42 PM

                        Funny...I was there this afternoon too.

                        I thought the carnitas were good, liked the crispy bits! Really liked the tamale. Tortillas were awesome for sure, and I agree the Pastor is just OK.

                        I also had the lamb barbacoa...this is the 2nd time I have tried it, and I just dont like it. I dont know if it is a spice or if it is the gameyness of the meat itself. I really like the beef barbacoa at Chipolte :-) LaReyna does have the beef barbacoa as well, maybe I should try that if I go back....I think the taco truck might be my place to go from now on.

                        1. re: birminghamvisitor
                          Big Daddy RE: birminghamvisitor Jun 15, 2009 01:29 PM

                          Yeah, I wasn't impressed with the lamb barbacoa at La Reyna, either. I think the steaming took some of the yum out of it.
                          Another thing to try at LaReyna: Sopes. They make the base out of tortilla masa.

      2. b
        bigdaddyyumyum RE: Big Daddy Jan 30, 2009 01:05 PM

        You guys need to try the best tacos around. Taqueria Guzman or The Dos Hermanos TRUCK at the gas station next to Big #1 Yamaha on west valley ave. THE BEST! I'v e tried them all and even make my own. It's got the real STREETFOOD FEEL TO IT!

        5 Replies
        1. re: bigdaddyyumyum
          birminghamvisitor RE: bigdaddyyumyum Jan 31, 2009 08:04 AM

          I wanted to try that taco truck! Thanks for the report!

          1. re: bigdaddyyumyum
            sheilal RE: bigdaddyyumyum Feb 2, 2009 04:50 AM

            Does this taco truck have tamales as well? I've exhausted the supply of tamales that my daughter brought me from Chicago and I'm jonesing for some good ones.

            1. re: sheilal
              birninghamsbestlunch RE: sheilal Feb 5, 2011 06:11 AM

              Kool Korner has tamales.


            2. re: bigdaddyyumyum
              Dax RE: bigdaddyyumyum Feb 2, 2009 07:21 AM

              Will definitely try those, thanks for the recommendation. Is that out past Red Pearl?

              I found this article which mentions the Gruzman truck and also mentions Taqueria La Reyna which I just noticed on West Valley yesterday when driving to the mercado for carnitas and tamales for the super bowl. Anyone tried La Reyna?


              1. re: Dax
                Big Daddy RE: Dax Feb 2, 2009 09:19 AM

                Several replies:
                The Taqueria Guzman truck is past the Red Pearl, in the lot of a gas station where La Jungula nightclub is. Everything there is good, especially the cueritos and buche. They do not have tamales (at least not regularly) but do have tortas and some tostadas.
                La Reyna is definitely worth a trip. They use a little press to make tortillas in-house and have the traditional spit for al pastor tacos. The al pastor and lengua tacos are great. And it's not a hole-in-the-wall like so many righteous ethnic places.

            3. b
              birminghamvisitor RE: Big Daddy May 31, 2009 05:57 AM

              I finally got around to trying the Taco Truck and Gordo's yesterday...after 5 tacos total boy was I stuffed! I have to say that Taqueria Guzman is my favorite. The tortillas were fantastic! And both places are a step up from Taq. Mexico (my main spot for tacos) IMO.

              La Reyna is next on the list!

              12 Replies
              1. re: birminghamvisitor
                deepfriedkudzu RE: birminghamvisitor Jun 16, 2009 11:49 AM

                For me, first place is Gordo's. Second place: Taqueria Guzman, the truck at 215 W. Valley Ave in front of a service station. Great-great-great carnitas.

                Remember back in January, when the B'ham News did their list of the best Mexican street food in the city? Well, my husband and I decided to try them - I think we did all of them minus one or two.

                (It was actually really fun because starting out I didn't have the faintest idea what a 'real' taco was...)

                I did three posts about where we went and what we tried, along with pictures of all of it. If you like, it's all here:

                BTW, B'ham Visitor, you mentioned La Reyna - that was good but gosh I remember it being soooooo slow. Just crazy-slow. See what you think, though. Looking forward to it!

                1. re: deepfriedkudzu
                  Big Daddy RE: deepfriedkudzu Jun 16, 2009 01:17 PM

                  I just read your blog entries, nad really enjoyed reading them.

                  In the last one you mentioned a desire to find good Chinese food in town. We're not exactly as blessed as we are on real Mexican, but here are some threads:

                  1. re: deepfriedkudzu
                    Dax RE: deepfriedkudzu Jun 16, 2009 01:32 PM

                    Good reports. LaReyna was fast on Sunday but I was one of only two tables there. Note they make their tortiallas to order (or they did Sunday when slow), so that takes a bit longer. Also, it was definitely a single corn tortialla, albeit a thick one.

                    I haven't actually tried the tacos at Gordos only gotten take out carnitas. Do they really serve on flour tortiallas? That seems odd to me,

                    Also, you can get corn tortillas (one per taco) at Catina upon request.

                    1. re: Dax
                      Big Daddy RE: Dax Jun 20, 2009 02:07 PM

                      No, Dax. The tacos at Gordos are served in corn tortillas. They do, however, sell house-made flour tortillas in the panderia, one level up from the carneceria.

                    2. re: deepfriedkudzu
                      birminghamvisitor RE: deepfriedkudzu Jun 16, 2009 05:37 PM

                      Nice write ups...though I put Guzman at the front...I agree for the most part. I too like carnitas the most usually, but I am suprised you didn't try more Al Pastor. I almost allways get those 2 tacos every time, then can go wild with my 3rd selection!

                      1. re: birminghamvisitor
                        pinotboy RE: birminghamvisitor Jun 27, 2009 10:24 AM

                        Full disclosure: Prior to today, I had never had a "real" taco. Very sad (I know), particularly in light of the fact that I live in Homewood near the epicenter of the city's taco universe. However, after having read the comments on this thread, as the late, great Jerry Clower was wont to say, y'all done flung a craving on me! So, off I went...

                        I decided to frighten cardiologists all over town and hit both Gordo's and Taqueria Guzman (a/k/a the taco truck). Although I considered getting different things at both places, I thought that would not really make for a good side-to-side comparison. So, I got a carnitas and a cueritos at both places. Pure porkalicious goodness!

                        Although both were very good, I give the slight edge to Guzman because I thought the pork there was more flavorful, and because I prefer the corn tortillas there to the flour ones at Gordo's. Big Daddy, I know that you said that Gordo's uses corn tortillas, but I am all but certain these were made with flour--they were white and had no corn flavor whatsoever, in contrast to the yellow ones at Guzman which had a pronounced corn flavor.

                        My one complaint: It does not appear that either establishment sells beer. A good cold Pacifico or Modelo Especial would have hit the spot. But since I completed my excursion just before noon, I suppose I did not need a cerveza that early. In any event, I feel a long nap coming on right about now...

                        1. re: pinotboy
                          KateMW RE: pinotboy Jun 27, 2009 10:31 AM

                          OK, where is this taco truck you speak of? I love tacos!

                          1. re: KateMW
                            pinotboy RE: KateMW Jun 27, 2009 10:54 AM

                            You caught me just before the nap started. :) It is at 215 West Valley Avenue in the parking lot of a gas station next door to a Yamaha dealership.

                            1. re: pinotboy
                              KateMW RE: pinotboy Jun 27, 2009 07:42 PM

                              Thanks! We'll have to go try it next weekend. We went to Moe's BBQ today.

                              1. re: KateMW
                                Big Daddy RE: KateMW Aug 8, 2009 01:28 PM

                                On a long-delayed trip to Gordo's today for tacos I noticed that they're now selling tortas there.
                                It had always struck me as odd that they didn't sell them before, since they make telera sandwich bread in-house and have all the other ingredients they need between the carneceria and the market. Next trip I'll try one.

                                1. re: Big Daddy
                                  jmills RE: Big Daddy Oct 8, 2010 05:51 PM

                                  Where is Gordo's?

                                  1. re: jmills
                                    curej RE: jmills Oct 9, 2010 12:02 PM


                  2. Dax RE: Big Daddy Aug 12, 2009 01:30 PM

                    I tried to go to the original green acres cafe today on 29th only to arrive at noon and it was closed. I asked a woman also trying to get in what time they usually open and she just shrugged and said maybe 1, as in whenever they want. That's two drives out there and two strike outs.

                    However, while over there I briefly considered Niki's because I wanted to check out the Finley Farmers Mkt (see separate post). Tnen I remembered the little taqueria there and headed that way. This may be one of my favorite tacos in town now and certainly one of the best examples of al pastor that I have ever had in town. Plenty of crispy porky goodness with a hint of pineapple (but thankfully no chunks), onions and a little cilantro (I think) on a single, homemade and slightly crisped, corn tortilla. I squeezed on some lime and house made salsa verde and I was in heaven. The carnitas was not as good, but still tasty. Gordo's need not worry on the carnitas war front. Along with a chicken tamale for $1 plus a can of coke, my meal total cost was $5.10 (with tax). I love this place.

                    No name to speak of ... and no printed menus.

                    Also on the menu board:

                    Asada Tacos


                    Weekends - Menduo, Posole and Carnitas (which they also had today but I had to ask multiple times to get it - minor language barrier).

                    I also noticed mojarra frita on the menu which I looked up and found to be whole fried fish, a colombian specialty. Sounds awesome.

                    29 Replies
                    1. re: Dax
                      sheilal RE: Dax Aug 13, 2009 06:05 AM

                      Can I assume f rom your lack of gushing that the tamale was only okay, that is, nothing to write home about?

                      1. re: sheilal
                        Dax RE: sheilal Aug 13, 2009 08:31 AM

                        I'd say it was on par with the green springs mercado chicken tamales. I just prefer pork in all things. Still considering most tamales are $2 each, it might be worth it to see if I could buy some pre-made ones not sitting on the steam table to freeze for eating at home.

                      2. re: Dax
                        curej RE: Dax Aug 13, 2009 03:17 PM

                        Where exactly is this little taqueria? Yo tengo mucho hambre!

                        1. re: curej
                          Dax RE: curej Aug 14, 2009 08:24 AM

                          It's at the farmers market. When you come (passing the weigh station), it's to the right of the first long group of stalls. Hard to miss. I might try to go tomorrow for some pozole.

                          1. re: Dax
                            Big Daddy RE: Dax Aug 15, 2009 10:08 AM

                            I need to try it. I've also become a big fan of sopes. I want to make some at home; I think they would be perfect party food because they're portable, substantial and easy to personalize.
                            The kids and I went to Taqueria Mi Casita again last night (in the Palaisades shopping center in Homewood). It continues to be one of the better taquerias/authentic Mexican restaurants in town. My only complaint was the carnitas was drier than usual. But the porkiness of the chiccharones taco had me swooning. I love their table salsa, too.

                            1. re: Big Daddy
                              curej RE: Big Daddy Dec 17, 2009 06:20 PM

                              Does anyone know of a Tex-Mex or Mex-Mex joint in the Bham area that serves breakfast? I would love to find some Migas or other related breakfast items. I see workers at the Chick-Fil-A where I often eat breakfast on Saturdays eating something delicious-looking that they have obviously brought in. I asked them where they bought it, but they are a little evasive. Probably don't want to jeopardize their jobs....Anyone have any info here?

                              1. re: curej
                                pinotboy RE: curej Dec 18, 2009 08:34 AM

                                I know that Sol y Luna has a Sunday brunch, but I am not aware of anywhere else that serves breakfast.

                                1. re: pinotboy
                                  curej RE: pinotboy Dec 19, 2009 08:03 PM

                                  Not a big fan of Sol Y Luna. A very low bang for the buck there. Nowadays my favorite "upscale" Tex-Mex is Cocina Superior, or some of the menu items at Dos Pesos in Pelham. I am dying for a really good upscale Mexican place here in Bham. If Chicago can have a ton of great upscale Mexican restaurants, can't we have ONE? Furthermore, I'd give a tooth for "chamorros de puerco con salsa pasilla" as made by the chef at La Fiesta in San Diego. To die for.

                                  1. re: curej
                                    pinotboy RE: curej Dec 20, 2009 08:10 AM

                                    I like Sol y Luna a great deal, but I understand where you are coming from on the "not enough bang for the buck"--you do pay a good deal for rather small portions.

                                    I have never been to (or even heard of) Dos Pesos. Is it Tex/Mex, or more authentic?

                                    1. re: pinotboy
                                      Big Daddy RE: pinotboy Dec 21, 2009 12:24 PM

                                      Taqueria Mi Casita in the Palisades has several breakfast taco/burritos with various combinations of eggs, chorizo, cactus, queso, ham.

                                      1. re: Big Daddy
                                        curej RE: Big Daddy Dec 21, 2009 05:20 PM

                                        Thanks...That's the kind of stuff I'm looking for.

                                      2. re: pinotboy
                                        curej RE: pinotboy Dec 21, 2009 05:19 PM

                                        I guess you'd call Dos Pesos more Tex-Mex. It's off of 119 neard Edgar's Bakery. You turn at the Whattaburger. It's definitely worth a try. They are a generous cut above most of the other spots in town. I like their take on fish tacos, and their chile rellenos are great. They did grilled salmon nachos for me tonight. Gooooood. Give them a try.

                                        1. re: curej
                                          curej RE: curej Feb 28, 2010 05:55 PM

                                          GREAT puffy tacos at Dos Pesos tonight. They are hand made corn tortillas fried bubbly-puffy filled with your choice of meat. Really delicious, though perhaps best eaten with a fork.

                                          1. re: curej
                                            Big Daddy RE: curej Mar 1, 2010 06:37 AM

                                            Where's Dos Pesos? ANd with the choice of meat, is it the taqueria choices (carnitas, cebolla, leguan, etc) or the more standard choices (ground beef, chicken, fish/shrimp)?

                                            1. re: Big Daddy
                                              curej RE: Big Daddy Mar 1, 2010 09:19 AM

                                              Only the usuals..no exotics, sorry to say, but maybe they could be encouraged....

                                              Restaurant is off 119 behind O'Charlies. We really like it.

                                              1. re: curej
                                                Big Daddy RE: curej Mar 1, 2010 09:53 AM

                                                Thanks. I've heard of puffy tacos (on "Throwdown") but never had a chance to try them.

                                                1. re: Big Daddy
                                                  curej RE: Big Daddy Mar 1, 2010 04:30 PM

                                                  If you wanna go, give us a heads up!

                                                  1. re: curej
                                                    Jannae RE: curej Mar 1, 2010 06:20 PM

                                                    I've had the puffy taco at Cocina Superior over in Brookwood Mall, but they didn't remind me of what I had out in San Antonio. Would love to give this place a try.

                                                    Also, I'm on the hunt for good empanadas.. any suggestions?

                                                    1. re: Jannae
                                                      curej RE: Jannae Mar 3, 2010 08:38 AM

                                                      Haven't seen them in the Ham. Gotta make your own!!!

                                                      1. re: Jannae
                                                        Dax RE: Jannae Mar 3, 2010 01:54 PM

                                                        I wish. Sol Y Luna has some shrimp ones, but they're $9.50 for about 3 I think. I haven't had any good empanadas here. In other areas, I've mostly tried Chilean, Brazilian and Portuguese versions. I wish I knew where to find some examples from various Latin American countries, but I'd settle for any simple version.

                                                        1. re: Dax
                                                          Jannae RE: Dax Mar 3, 2010 03:52 PM

                                                          We had some when we were down in Orlando on the City Walk that were pretty good.

                                                          Sorry to hear we don't have a place that does them well and affordably.

                                                          1. re: Jannae
                                                            curej RE: Jannae Mar 3, 2010 06:18 PM


                                                            1. re: curej
                                                              Dax RE: curej Mar 4, 2010 06:09 AM

                                                              Appreciate the How To link but empanadas are like tamales to me - so cheap I always buy instead of making them. I need to find a good online frozen source.

                                                              1. re: Dax
                                                                curej RE: Dax Mar 4, 2010 04:34 PM

                                                                Costco had decent tamales for a while...not sure they still have them. They had good carnitas, too.

                                                                1. re: Dax
                                                                  curej RE: Dax May 2, 2010 06:16 PM

                                                                  There are good green chile tamales and pork tamales at Costco now. I bought a sac of each yesterday.

                                                            2. re: Dax
                                                              Big Daddy RE: Dax Mar 4, 2010 06:57 AM

                                                              I keep hoping Kool Korner will expend its menu to include things like black beans and yellow rice, and empanadas. It's main competition in Atlanta, Havana Sandwich Shop, made some great ones.
                                                              We had a little Colombian/Mexican restaurant on 280 (now closed) that made good empanadas and arepas. I'd love to find a good hole-in-the wall for empanadas and other pan-Latino snacks.

                                                              1. re: Big Daddy
                                                                curej RE: Big Daddy Jul 20, 2010 01:02 PM

                                                                I'm liking Camp Taco! It's no Gordo's, but it's within striking distance of UAB for lunch. Thanks for the heads up @Dax.

                                                                1. re: curej
                                                                  curej RE: curej Aug 27, 2010 03:03 PM

                                                                  @Dax and @jannae, did you see this? Empanadas.........


                                                                  1. re: curej
                                                                    Jannae RE: curej Aug 28, 2010 01:37 PM

                                                                    Yes, that did catch my eye. They're a bit bigger than the ones I had down in Fl. years ago. I'm resigned to making my own next time I'm in the mood for them. Maybe I'll develop a really recipe, open an empanada truck, and establish the empanadas scene in Birmingham via tweeting!

                              2. d
                                Dalrymple RE: Big Daddy Aug 28, 2010 10:19 AM

                                If anyone finds themselves in Eastlake there is a taqueria and tienda on 1st Ave. North that has some good stuff: El Girasol. They have a goat taco that I am quite fond of. You can usually get it red, green, or white. I have never had a bad thing there although the chicharones did not go gentle into this good night. Good sopes, good tacos, good Mexican cerviche. Best to know some Spanish, though, because several of the servers do not speak English. You can get some rocking boots and futbol jerseys as well..................

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Dalrymple
                                  Big Daddy RE: Dalrymple Aug 30, 2010 10:48 AM

                                  I second the recommendation for El Girasol. I haven't been in awhile, but need to return because I miss the sopes at the now-closed Taqueria La Reyna.

                                  1. re: Big Daddy
                                    Dalrymple RE: Big Daddy Sep 3, 2010 04:37 PM

                                    Plus they are really nice folks. Do try the cerviche. Very simple, very good.

                                    1. re: Dalrymple
                                      Dax RE: Dalrymple Feb 5, 2011 06:19 PM

                                      Went to Girasol for lunch today and so far it ranks up at the top. The carnitas were not as good as Gordo's but close and the pastor, barbacoa and chicharones tacos were some of the best I have had in town. The red sauce also had a nice kick. However, even better was the torta which blew Gordo's away. However, the carne asada meat was a little bland so I would go with al pastor next time. Delicious. Nice folks too. Plus they have tamales for like $1.25 and a nice array of cerviche (which I will have to go back to try).

                                      1. re: Dax
                                        Big Daddy RE: Dax Feb 6, 2011 07:03 AM

                                        Where is Girasol? I think I've been several years back. That does sound good (especially if the carnitas still are good), especially the part about the tortas.

                                        1. re: Big Daddy
                                          Dax RE: Big Daddy Feb 6, 2011 09:28 AM

                                          El Girasol. 8506 1st Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35206-2707

                                          1. re: Dax
                                            Big Daddy RE: Dax Feb 7, 2011 11:52 AM

                                            I thought it was familiar (I think they have another location in Pelham area). Yes, I loved that place. Will have to stop back for the torta.

                                        2. re: Dax
                                          Dalrymple RE: Dax Feb 6, 2011 02:02 PM

                                          Have not had the torta. Will have to get one next time I am out that way.

                                          1. re: Dalrymple
                                            Dalrymple RE: Dalrymple Feb 11, 2011 08:26 AM

                                            Had a hankerin' and decided to try the torta. That was a whole lot of goat (almost too strongly flavored), but excellent. Next time I think I will go al pastor next go round.

                                      2. re: Big Daddy
                                        Dax RE: Big Daddy Sep 14, 2010 05:38 AM

                                        the tacos at Taco Loco, which replaced the TLR, are forgettable considering the other options in town. Very limited menu. Have not tried to the tortas

                                      3. re: Dalrymple
                                        mahalan RE: Dalrymple Jun 20, 2011 11:31 AM

                                        Went to El Girasol with a coworker of mine who was raised in San Antonio. Both of us are now huge fans of the place. Excellent sopes, tamales, and mole. Can't wait to return.

                                        San Antonio
                                        111 S 16th Ave, Laurel, MS 39440

                                      4. m
                                        Ms. Finiky RE: Big Daddy Oct 21, 2010 03:03 PM

                                        I have just gotten a tip from a Hispanic friend that there is a good taco truck in Leeds now. I am going to go check it out, will report. Though I admit I have never had a 'real' taco and so I can't compare to these other places.

                                        1. Dax RE: Big Daddy Dec 14, 2010 11:48 AM

                                          Finally tried Taqueria Mexico today for lunch. Two al pastor and one carnitas taco (now $1.75 each, tongue and chicharonns are $2 each). These are third in line of my favorites behind the sometimes tie between Gordos and Guzman. Loved both the salsa verde and the smokey red sauce too, although the salsa itself was a little bland. Nice waitress. Want to try the tortas next. This place is tucked away in there and I would not have seen it if I had not been looking.

                                          Was at the new outlet mall in leeds Sunday and wondered about that taco truck in Leeds. Any idea on location?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Dax
                                            Dax RE: Dax Dec 14, 2010 02:53 PM

                                            Oh and I think the corn tortillas at TM are house made or at least made locally? They have the softness and slightly frayed edges of hand made ones.

                                            1. re: Dax
                                              curej RE: Dax Dec 14, 2010 06:43 PM

                                              Address Below.

                                              Taqueria Mexico
                                              3724 Lorna Rd, Birmingham, AL 35216

                                              1. re: Dax
                                                Big Daddy RE: Dax Dec 15, 2010 09:38 AM

                                                The corn tortillas are house made at Taqueria Mexico -- until they run out of that day's supply. I've been eating at T Mexico for a decade now and they always are one of my favorites (especially now that T Mi Casita is gone).
                                                The list of guisado (meats) at T Mexico is relatively short, but all are great. Torta rocks, too. Get it all the way.
                                                Also worth trying there: cabrito (two different ways) and grilled quail.
                                                A good reference point for finding T Mexico is the clock tower near the entrance off Lorna Road, not far from the Riverchase portion of U.S. 31. It's in the back of the plaza.
                                                Ms. Finiky, I use the term "real taco" to distinguish them from the style of taco you often see from Tex-Mex restaurants to Taco Bell: a fried "u" shaped corn tortilla filled with seasoned ground beef (or chicken), yellow grated cheese, lettuce and sometimes tomato.
                                                The more authentic style you'll see on the streets in Mexico and U.S. urban populations with lots of Mexicans is two soft corn tortillas (sometimes one), filled with meat (usually some exotic or throw-away part of a cow or pig, but sometimes more recognizable cuts of flavor-intense meat and some onions and cilantro for garnish and crunch.
                                                More recognizable fillings include pollo (chicken), carne asada (grilled beef), al pastor (seasoned pork and pineapple slow-cooked and carved from a rotisserie like gyro meat) and carnitas (twice-cooked pork). Sometimes you'll find ground beef, too.
                                                Also in the recognizable department is barbacoa, or grilled beef or lamb. Mexican sausage used in real tacos include longaniza or chorizo.
                                                But don't overlook other offerings like lengua (tongue), chicharron (fried pork skins cooked in a sauce), cueritos (slow-cooked pork skin with an intensely porky flavor), buche (esophagus), cabeza (head meat). Get over the "ick" factor and you'll be amply rewarded from this list.
                                                Hope this helps and let us know when you find that taco truck (man, I'd love one downtown), say at 4th North and 23rd Street.

                                              2. re: Dax
                                                Ms. Finiky RE: Dax Dec 16, 2010 11:29 AM

                                                Well I never got over to try the reputed Taco Truck in Leeds, and when I just asked my hispanic friend where it is, he said it is not there anymore.
                                                I'm thinking my first 'real' taco experience is going to be Gordo's

                                                1. re: Ms. Finiky
                                                  Big Daddy RE: Ms. Finiky Dec 16, 2010 01:32 PM

                                                  Excellent choice.

                                              3. b
                                                birninghamsbestlunch RE: Big Daddy Feb 12, 2011 06:31 AM

                                                Pinches Tacos - near Soho - new place $11 for 3 tacos, beans, rice and a drink - very traditional mexican - it will be a nice place to enjoy a margarita and taco

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: birninghamsbestlunch
                                                  Dax RE: birninghamsbestlunch Feb 12, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                  Aside from saucing the taco, the al pastor taco was good. I think it's weird the meat is sliced thinly into strips but it tasted very good. $2.50 for a taco is a little high but nothing different than Cantina. The homemade tortilla rocked. Burrito with carnitas was much better than I expected and would have been near perfect with black beans. The diablo sauce is a mix of habanero, serrano and some other peppers and it's sweat-inducing. The tortas looked great. Will be cool when the patio furniture is out and the weather gets warmer.

                                                  1. re: Dax
                                                    Big Daddy RE: Dax Feb 14, 2011 09:27 AM

                                                    Yes, the house-made tortillas at Pinches rock for the tacos, etc. and the chips. Guacamole also is very good. Among the tacos I tried, I enjoyed the tongue and the chicken in mole sauce was really good. I was not as impressed with the spicy pork.
                                                    Next up: tortas and sopes.
                                                    The place strikes me as a starter spot for those who are curious about real tacos on Valley/West Valley, Lorna Rd. and Pelham Parkway, but are reluctant to go there. Pinches' fare is better than the tacos at Tex-Mex places, but the atmosphere is more on par with Cantina than with, say, Gordo's or Girasol.
                                                    BTW: I recall the 3 taco plate being $8.50.

                                                    1. re: Big Daddy
                                                      curej RE: Big Daddy Feb 27, 2011 05:11 PM

                                                      Tried Pinches today. Honestly, I was disappointed. Yes, the hand made tortillas are nice, but the carnitas sope I had (sitting on a bed of stale-tasting old bagged lettuce) was only so-so (the ones I had at the little joint up at the Farmers' Market were better). The pork tasted like it was steamed. Very flavorless. My fish taco had about four small chunks of bland fish in it. The fish tacos at Cantina and at 2 Pesos remain my faves. My wife liked her Chilaquiles a lot (off of the desayuno menu). These were not migas equivalents, by any means, in case you were about to say..... My son was happy with his carnitas burrito. Sorry to be a nay sayer, but this ain't the place I've been hoping for.

                                                      On a sort of different note, why can't we get an upscale Mexican restaurant in this town? I'm not talking about a tapas bar, which is what Sol Y Luna still strikes me as. I'm talking about the equivalent of La Fiesta in the Gaslamp District in San Diego.


                                                      Or if we can't have that, how about a place that serves Migas (Tex-Mex, I know, I know)????

                                                      1. re: curej
                                                        Big Daddy RE: curej Mar 2, 2011 06:32 AM

                                                        We do have upscale Mexican restaurants in town, led by Zona Rosa in Liberty Park and Iguana Grill in Hoover. On the more gringo side, Cocina Superior also takes a more upscale approach (although I do not endorse it).
                                                        Maybe the secret to Pinches is to assess it as it is, and not as you hoped it would be. There are several things not to like about Pinches, including the plastic cutlery and too-frequent mistakes on orders. But overall, it's an improvement to most of the Mexican-oriented restaurants that open with a plan to cater to the gringo crowd.
                                                        To me, the fresh-corn taste from the masa they use in their sopes and tortillas gives it a boost in my assessment of the place. The carnitas disappoint me as well. But the al pastor and the chicken with mole are surprisingly good. The torta is pretty tasty, too. And for people afraid of slumming it in some of the Valley Ave joints, Pinches is one of the few places they can try one of the world's great sandwiches.
                                                        No, I doubt Pinches ever will rise to the level of Gordo's, Taqueria Guzman, the place at the Farmer's Market or even Girasol. But I don't think Pinches wants to be that. It wants to be a portal to real Mexican food for suburbanites and on that level I think it has some decent potential.

                                                        Cocina Superior
                                                        587 Brookwood Vlg, Birmingham, AL 35209

                                                        Zona Rosa Cafe
                                                        3732 River Run Dr, Birmingham, AL 35243

                                                        1. re: Big Daddy
                                                          curej RE: Big Daddy Mar 2, 2011 07:04 AM

                                                          BD, with all due respect, Zona Rosa and Iguana Grill are formulaic, "more of the sames" in perhaps slightly upscale environs. I actually like Cocina Superior. At least the dishes they offer are not the same old same old. If you're at all interested in what I'm thinking about, see the link I included in my last post. The menu at that place (La Fiesta, San Diego, or at Rick Bayless' restaurants) is what I had in mind when I used the term "upscale". I realize that it's just my opinion and my own biased personal yearning that I'm alluding to there and defending here. But anyway....

                                                          I like Gordo's tacos better than Pinches, and haven't yet experienced Taqueria Guzman or El Girasol. Hope to do both one of these days.

                                                          Finally, I don't think anyone can assess a place without considering what they hoped it would be, and where it succeeds or fails in that regard. All food/restaurant comments here are highly subjective. While there may be a majority opinion, it's never "Truth". The best I can hope for is finding others who seem to have similar tastes as mine and listening...or not. Kind of like movie reviewers. I heed the ones I've tended to agree with....and not to the others before laying my money down at the theater.

                                                2. curej RE: Big Daddy Sep 5, 2011 02:41 PM

                                                  2 Pesos has recently updated their menu. They now have carnitas. I had the puffy tacos made with carnitas today at lunch and while a bit greasy, they were phenomenal. Better than at Arturo's Puffy Tacos in Whittier, CA. They also now have sopes, for you who are interested in those. I encourage those of you who have not tried this place to give it a go. I think it might just be my favorite Mexican spot in Bham, and I feel a lot less timid about going there than to El Girasol.

                                                  1. d
                                                    Dalrymple RE: Big Daddy Mar 5, 2013 02:59 PM

                                                    If any of you happen to be driving down Greensprings Highway I recommend Tacos y Mariscos Colima. It is a trailer generally parked in that strange little strip mall near Ward Park with the tactical knife and pawn shop, and “tobacco” accessories place. The tacos are good and portions are so generous that I usually only get two. The tostadas de pescado is also very good.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Dalrymple
                                                      Dax RE: Dalrymple Mar 6, 2013 07:14 AM

                                                      Is this at that gas station (?) on the hill at the intersection of GS and whatever that street is when you exit 65 towards GS?

                                                      1. re: Dax
                                                        Dalrymple RE: Dax Mar 6, 2013 09:13 AM

                                                        If you are driving down Greensprings away from UAB Tacos y Mariscos Colima is on the right at the light before the light and the road (where there are two gas stations) that takes you to I-65. It is next to the closed Bobcat Loader Services building.

                                                      2. re: Dalrymple
                                                        Big Daddy RE: Dalrymple Apr 8, 2013 07:23 AM

                                                        I need to go check that out. Recommendations?

                                                        1. re: Big Daddy
                                                          Dalrymple RE: Big Daddy Apr 8, 2013 10:18 AM

                                                          I usually get a lingua taco and an al pastor or one of the aforementioned and a tostadas de pescado or camarones. I have seen the tortas and they look good.

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