Taqueria Los Desvelados: Shady Restaurant of the Month
Taqueria Los Desvelados
Southwest 29th has long been a shady destination of mine. It all started just east of Portland with Sydney’s Restaurant, and then continued east to the corner of May with 50′s cafe and El Regio Loco (which has since been spotted all over town). Venturing further east, I found Max Burger off Western. There are countless contenders for the shady honor along this stretch of road, dotted between the used car lots promising easy financing and the pawn shops offering to buy your gold fillings. I owe it to a friend of mine for introducing me to Taqueria Los Desvelados, the latest purveyor of shadiness. He is actually the same guy who introduced me to Nic’s Grill, so he will be automatically inducted into the shady hall of fame once it is created.
Taqueria Los Desvelados is in a very convenient location. It is next to a Volkswagen repair shop and across the street from a rug and carpet store. Further down the road on each side are used car lots, used tire and wheel swaps, and pawn shops. It’s the perfect location because you were probably already driving by looking for an easy, no-hassle financing option for a used El Camino, which always stirs up a mean appetite. Tacos Los Desvelados (as they have etched into their long bench tables) is full of flavorful ethnic authenticity, and surrounded by ultimate Oklahoma City shadiness. What a perfect combination. For all you real adventurers, try visiting late on a Saturday night while celebrating an OU victory. You will find them serving delicious food until 3am on the weekends.
The decor is what you would expect in an authentic Mexican restaurant. Bright orange and purple colors, pictures of Mexico, and cool chairs. They have these big, picnic-table-style benches that have etched graffiti all over them in the front room, and in the side room a couple tables with cool chairs that look like this. Also in this room is a ridiculously huge Mexican headdress. Think this but 10 times bigger. It is very light, though, as one of the waitresses showing it to us was able to lift it with one hand. They also have a candy dispenser with a Mexican version of an M&M character, and one of those crane machines that you pay 50 cents to try and fish out a 25 cent prize. You know, typical shady restaurant stuff.
The menu offers standard taqueria fare — tacos, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas, flautas … etc., stuffed with your favorite meats. They have asada (steak), lengua (tongue), pastor (a seasoned pork meatloaf of sorts), chicken, barbacoa (beef head), and of course, buche (stomach), tripas (intestines), and chorizo (sausage). Like any respectable taqueria, the tacos are traditionally served on corn tortillas with onion and cilantro and rolled up individually with a little parchment paper.
The gorditas are much bigger and thicker than those at the other taquerias in town. I’m not sure if I like that or not. I kind of like the thin gorditas as they seem easier to eat. These are thick-cut corn “shells” (for lack of a better term) and according to those familiar with San Antonio street food, just like the gorditas in San Antonio. They are made to be able to hold their fillings like a little fried sandwich and are absolutely packed with meat, beans, and flavor.
The enchiladas and flautas are topped with shredded lettuce, slices of tomatoes, and parmesan cheese. The enchiladas have a tasty red chili sauce of some sort, and the flautas have a green tomatillo sauce. In my opinion, they could both use a little kick so I usually sprinkle on some of the salsa that they bring out in those cool little Mocajete bowls with the little feet.
But unlike your typical taqueria, this is a full service restaurant. There are several dinner plates (with rice and beans on the side) including my new favorite dish — tacos derados. These are fried tacos. They are stuffed with your choice of a crumbly goat cheese, or mashed potatoes (you read that right). Not since those brilliant carnies at the state fair introduced fried mashed potatoes on a stick have I been so excited about a dish. Now, if only they could stuff a taco with macaroni and cheese and deep fry it. I wonder if they would take suggestions?
I always make a big deal when a restaurant serves one of my favorite meats, and yes, you can get goat here. They serve a goat soup. No, I haven’t tried it, mainly because soup isn’t my favorite means of sustenance. I will try it when it gets colder. I wish they would serve goat tacos. Finding goat, or even lamb, in this town is not easy. Heck, I can understand squirrel (by the way, I have honestly thought of opening a fried squirrel restaurant — you think fried onion burgers are all the rage, wait till metro OKC sees the squirrel fries sweeping through the city) but lamb and goat are a main meat group in nearly every heavily populated culture in the world. For now, you will have to settle for small morsels found in soups, stews and masalas in the ethnic eateries dotted across our metro.
One other thing — there is a pretty steep language barrier here, but that doesn’t stop them from being highly accommodating. First off, we got an awesome tour of the restaurant and didn’t really even ask. We got samples and descriptions of several items. Also, my Bangali friend who was a little disturbed at not being served chips with our meal once brought this up to the waitress. She asked, “Chips? Like nacho or like tortilla?” He said, “like tortilla.” Next thing you know, she brings us out a basket of freshly cut pieces of corn tortilla that they fried up for us on the spot. Amazing!
Beverages range from the Mexican bottled coke (which tastes WAY better than American coke. I think it’s sugar cane like the Dublin Dr. Pepper), cans of other beverages and cervezas, and flavored waters. I find it interesting that these Mexican restaurants call what we call fruit juice “flavored water.” Anyway, they have cantaloupe, a purple one that no one has been able to translate, and horchata. If the assortment of beverages isn’t enough to provide relief to your taste buds still smarting from that pickled jalapeno, go next door to their paleteria (popsicle shop). Our hostess gave us a tour of the place and a lot of samples from the paleteria. She gave us a cup of what she called “crazy water.” It was cucumber water and was surprisingly good, and very refreshing. She also had celery water which I will never try because I hate celery, and a variety of other fruit waters. These really are flavored waters. They are not sweet like a juice. The paletas were available in walnut, rice, mango, chocolate … etc.
Taqueria Los Desvelados is not the shadiest place I have ever reviewed. Sure, from the outside it stirs up fear and uneasiness with the best of them, but inside you feel pretty comfortable except for a more difficult language barrier than many other Mexican restaurants in town. As with all shady restaurants, I recommend to our shady novices to stick with daylight hours, but for the more experienced shady adventurists, Taqueria Los Desvelados lets you adventure late into the night. After all, desvelados translates as “kept awake.” So if you are “kept awake,” make sure you are not “kept hungry” and go have a late night burrito. I can’t wait to hear what you think in the comments.