Tacos are pretty much the perfect food. They are salty, meaty, drippy, savory bites that satisfy. Even mediocre tacos are better than no tacos at all.
My friend Michael Carmody, a taco aficionado, has gushed over the food at El Tenampa for months, so I grabbed a friend and went to the slightly dilapidated building on west Central.
El Tenampa has excellent street-style tacos. Nicely floppy corn tortillas are filled-to-bursting with different kinds of meat, onion, cilantro and cheese (if you want it). I’m into trying all kinds of meat, and El Tenampa has some fillings that are unusual and delicious, if you’re open to new textural experiences.
I ordered the turkey tail, stomach and tongue tacos on my first visit. The turkey tails were great-- seasoned, chopped rich meat, with a deep turkey flavor. Buche, or stomach (basically tripe) was bouncy and very meaty-tasting, with a touch of minerally innard funk. The tongue taco was my favorite for flavor and texture.
Their guacamole is outstanding, made-to-order with lime, cilantro, white onion and tomato. El Tenampa also has a salsa bar and excellent red salsa that is served with every meal. I really loved the chipotle sauce.
My friend ordered chiles rellenos. The cheese-stuffed, lightly battered green chiles had just the right amount of spicy kick. They were served with good refried beans and rice, and I would order them again.
We tried the gorditas (but they were sort of dry) and the huarache, a chewy corn boat filled with steak, cheese and lettuce. Both were just okay. But if you go, definitely get the tacos and the chiles rellenos.