Taqueria Arandas

4619 S. Congress, 448-4771
3518 E. Seventh, 389-3834
834 E. Rundberg, 835-4369
2448 S. First, new location

Taqueria Guadalajara

6534 Burnet, 452-9886

Odds are that if you're looking for a sandwich, the last place you'll look is a taqueria. That is, unless you've spent some time down in Guadalajara, where you can pick up tasty sandwiches known as tortas from any of a million market stalls. Griddle-toasted bread gets slathered with crema, dressed with avocado, lettuce, and, tomato, and then filled with marinated meat. Quick as a taco, only not as flat.

Taqueria Arandas specializes in Jalisco-style Mexican, including a range of the wily torta. Their five locations around town provide a change of pace if you tire of the TexMex taco aesthetic. The tortas come filled with your choice of meat, marinated, roasted, and then grill-tossed shortly before serving. Highlights include the pork leg (pierna) and pork al pastor, which are tender with a little spicy crunch provided by the final grilling. The chicken is also fall-apart tender and seems to have been stewed in its spices. For larger appetites, combination plates come with your choice of two meats, simple salad, rice, and beans.

Though the meats stand well on their own, they all profit from doses of the house salsa verde, which is actually more of a red-green. In addition to the usual tomatillo base, the sauce also contains dried chiles and a bit of tomato. The result is a stout, spicy tang that works well on the tortas -- just the right amount of heat to counteract the cool crema and ample avocado.

You'll also find some lesser-known items scattered here and there in the menu. The "miscellaneous meats" category is well represented, with barbacoa, lengua, and sesos (beef brain) available every day in taco, burrito, and torta forms. No more waiting until the weekend for a barbacoa or tripas fix. Arandas also consistently offers three different soups including pozole, a Jaliscan hominy and pork stew/soup, and menudo, for all your morning-after needs. To drink or for dessert, get a big glass of their agua de horchata, a rich, rice-based drink sweetened with brown sugar and a hint of vanilla. -- Paul M. Johnson

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