Chema's Real Taco in Sparks -- As good as Beto's in Reno
- Steve Timko
I found a Mexican restaurant in Sparks a few weeks ago. I can't call Chema's Real Taco new. I guess it's been open for about 18 months. It's new to me. I ate there a second time today and although some might consider it blasphemy, I'd rate Chema's Real Taco as good as Beto's in Reno. Maybe better.
It's at 1845 Prater Way, between Rock Boulevard and Sullivan Lane. When I moved to Sparks in 1984 that was the location of Elmer's Coffee Shop, which became Jack's Coffee Shop. Then Jack's Coffee Shop moved to its present location, the former's Sambo's restaurant. For a long time the location was home to Jose Jose, a decent if not spectacular Mexican restaurant.
I was driving down Prater Way a few weeks ago and saw the restaurant for the first time. I decided to try it. I ordered a pork tamale and three tacos, one each of spicy pork, chorizo and chicken.
The tamale arrived first with a wonderful corn smell wafting off it. I have to say it was a bit disappointing. I unwrapped the husks and the corn meal around the meat was very dry. But then the tacos came -- dabs of well-seasoned meat on a pair of soft corn tacos shells. The pork was delicious, the chorizo was great (surprisingly hard to find decent chorizo in restaurants) and was enough to get me back, but I hereby declare Chema's Real Taco's chicken tacos as Chowhound worthy. It's a tender white chicken marinated so there's a spicy red juice in the meat. Maybe the best chicken taco I've ever had. And it's 89 cents.
When I went back today I ordered another chicken taco to see if it was as good as I remembered it. It was. I'm hoping another Chowhohounder will stop by, check it out and report back. I also ordered a carne asada burrito. Big. Good. I'd get it again. But not at the same level of the taco.
They also have other dishes I want to try, including seafood dishes. Like Beto's, the prices are low.
That's three good Mexican restaurants now within about five blocks of each other in Sparks. The place that used to be called Angelo's Famous Tacos -- still owned by the same people but I think it's called Taco Superiore now -- is a few blocks west on Prater Way, right next to Jack's. And at Oddie Beoulevard and El Rancho is another good Mexican restaurant whose name slips my mind.
I'm hoping some other Chowhounder will check it out. I think it might be a cash only place. I can't remember if it takes credit cards.
Chema's Real Taco
1845 Prater Way
Thanks for the tip! Since I'm now working in Sparks not too far from there, I'll check it out...maybe for lunch tomorrow!!! (and report back, of course....)
I made it over there at lunch today, and as promised am reporting back. I would agree that the chicken tacos are wonderful. Small tortillas, but they taste fresh.....and the spicing on the chicken is great (and it is very juicy!). I also like their salsa bar: several types of fresh made salsa and the best zanahorias (pickled carrots) I've had, well, probably since I was in Mexico. I also tried the al pastor tacos: I must admit I wasn't as enamored. The al pastor just didn't taste fresh.....it had a funny taste to it and was too dry. I'll go back someday and try carne asada and/or lengua.....or maybe a sope. Certainly inexpensive: Four tacos and a Sidral Mundet(apple soda)came to around five bucks. I was tempted to have a beer, but had to go back to work. Service was friendly, and my waitress spoke good English (although she and I mostly spoke in Spanish....). Thanks for the tip, Steve!! (You're right about several good Mexican places in the neighborhood...and there also appear to be a couple of good Mexican markets on that block of Prater....)