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Apr 5, 2014 09:20 AM

Manassas MX: El Garage

Three beautiful words: fresh handmade tortillas!

There are places nearby in Manassas that have the delicious feather light and thin machine made fresh tortillas, which are great. But the tortillas at El Garage are hand made (flattened with a tortilla press) and deliciously soft, like homemade. Each one is round but very slightly different from the other because of being handmade. No contest between these and the machine made ones.

Our table had tacos made with these gorgeous tortillas, and I had a huarache, so soft and fresh. As one would imagine, since they make great fresh handmade tortillas, the huaraches are also excellent.

More beautiful words: Lamb barbacoa, Mexico City style! This stuff is really seasoned just right, tender and unctuous from slow cooking, and is very slightly saucy from the red chile infused juices of the meat (not especially chile-hot, just perfect), and ready to be heated up with a salsa if you like. I tried it as the meat for my huarache.

I also had the beef tongue (in a taco), which was cooked to a great tender texture.

Anti-buffet people (typically me, but not in this case) will be put off by the meats in a buffet server at the front of the place. The thing is that these dishes (tinga, barbacoa, various guisos, etc.) are slow cooked for like 4-8 hours depending on the dish, and then served from the back of the kitchen like this in way in other restaurants, and you are only seeing it in front like this because they sell these meats by the pound and are displaying the meats for the customers. (Scale is right there, too.) This is typical in places that specialize in slow cooked meats by the pound, and you can see this frequently all over Mexico and in the states just to the north, both with both indoor and outdoor vendors. By the pound it comes with fresh tortillas and salsas. I think the display is good, too because with different regional styles of MX food that sometimes has the same name but is prepared completely differently based on where the restaurateurs are from, you can check out what you are getting visually before you order.

A co-diner had a carne asada taco. The meat was well browned on the flat grill. It was also tender.

My other co-diner had a quesadilla de queso: Corn masa cooked with the cheese folded inside so the cheese came out melting and oozing, and then covered with toppings. You can get these with any filling you desire. Highly recommended.

The salsas were good. One was chile de árbol, and the other was a type of salsa verde which tasted like it was just made of fresh green chiles and not the typical tomate verde/tomatillo one...not sure about that, though.

FYI if you are vegetarian or have a friend/partner who is and you want to try this place out together, they do not use lard in their beans and they have options like mushroom or nopales so you could eat plenty of stuff here without eating meat.

They also have tortas, chilaquiles, sopes, tostadas, and more. Awesome place. Unfortunately, they don't have any desserts. (There is a MX bakery in the same shopping center if you are dying for something sweet after, though.) The menu is pretty extensive, actually. Lots more to explore. I'd like to try the tinga de pollo next time. Since they specialize in slow cooked, soupy fare, I can only imagine the menudo would be good and I'd go back to check that out, too.

For three people, our meal came out to $17 total. They don't have a menu online, but you can see a kind of blurry menu on yelp if you zoom in.

Manassas seems to have loads of good MX places and I wish I could get there more often to do some more exploring. I also love Tortillería El Molino (awesome beef cheek barbacoa like we have in TX) and Taquería Tres Reyes (yet another style of barbacoa, this one of saucy goat). Like, one could go barbacoa hopping in Manassas!

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  1. Wondering is anyone has been a few shops down from El Garage to La Jarochita bakery-carnicería-restaurant. I'm presuming the owners are from Veracruz, so one could go from DF to Veracruz in one shopping center! (I wonder what style of barbacoa they have!)

    5 Replies
    1. re: luckyfatima

      I've been to the Sunday buffet a couple of times at La Jarochita. I'm no expert on Mexican food so I can't tell you where they're from. They do have a website.

      1. re: dpan

        Can you link their website? I cannot find it.

        "Jarocho" is a nickname for people from Veracruz, so I presumed "La Jarochita" was a reference to that. Usually restos named something "jarocho" have owners from Veracruz. Veracruz isn't a small state, so they could be from anywhere there, and often you find "Jarocho" seafood restaurants, but not in this case...anyway, I dunno, just presuming.

        EDIT: OK, I found it. Yes, they are from Veracruz. Menu looks awesome:

        Also on Facebook:

        1. re: luckyfatima

          All I know is that when I'm there, I'm the only non-Latino customer in that big dining room. They don't mind. The waitresses are very friendly and the food is plentiful and good. The lady in the back churns out fresh made corn tortillas for the buffet. The menudo is excellent.

          1. re: dpan

            Awesome. Well, I know where I'll eat during my next trip to Manassas.

            Besides the other couple of places mentioned in the post above, are there any other MX places you would recommend in Manassas?

            1. re: luckyfatima

              You seem to know much more than I do. I've only been to El Molino, and you come out of there smelling like grease. The food is good and cheap, but you don't want to go there with nice clothes.

    2. Had lunch at El Garage this afternoon, just a couple of tacos - pork and lamb - and they were both well filled and filling, and cheap, too - two bucks each. The tortillas are definitely different from what you usually see. The menu is pretty Mexican, but those tortillas are more like what you get in a Salvadorian place.

      I only have an excuse to go in that direction about once a year so I probably won't explore it further, but it was a good, quick lunch after a few hours in the sun at the hamfest (radio, not pig). Nice folks at the counter, good salsa and other garnishes. And did I mention cheeeeep!?

      1. My son and I tried out El Garage Saturday after a rugby game in Bristow. I had tacos, lengua, barbacoa, & asada. Really delicious and I particularly liked the salsa verde. We watched the end of the Chile-Brazil futbol game, including the heartbreaking (for Chile fans) shootout.

        I will say that one needs to look out for massive potholes in that sketchy parking lot. Thanks, Fatima, for pointing this place out!