Roadside Mexican fits the bill

by Jordan Green

In truth, I was looking for a more mystical culinary experience.

On my way to work, I’ve passed a humble shack advertising chicken and honey on 5th Street in East Winston. Thinking it might be the inspiration for the haute Beasley’s Chicken & Honey in Raleigh I decided to venture over for lunch on a recent Wednesday. Sadly, I found the closed sign still affixed and a metal grate over the drive-thru window.

Then I remembered the little mobile kitchen and folding-table dining area set up at the Polo Road-Cherry Street shopping center. I don’t know if the tacos were the best that I’ve ever had or I simply imagined that they would be great. In any case, I love street tacos. Something about eating food on the street makes the experience feel like an adventure. And I think the lack of amenities only makes the food that much more savory. Sadly, the mobile food vendor was gone from the deteriorating strip mall. I satisfied myself with a sugary pastry from the Salvadoran carniceria and got on my way.

I made a wide loop from the north side down to the southwest, figuring I’d have more luck on Peters Creek Parkway.

By the time I passed Taquerías Guadalajara, I was famished and running out of patience. I was in no position to argue, so I made a U-turn and parked.

Taquerías Guadalajara #2 — #1 is in Charlotte — is a big room broken up by a kind of tiki structure, so that a shed comes down over the booths, providing a modicum of privacy. The bar is in the back, as is a mounted television, and the jukebox was getting some action in the early afternoon. It’s the kind of place that seamlessly transitions from lunch to afternoon drinks to nighttime.

I was feeling pretty hungry, so I ordered fajitas carne asada. The dish comes with a choice of corn or flower tortillas. I went with corn.

The tortilla chips came out with three kinds of salsa. My favorite was the chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic — almost like gazpacho. Then there was a medium textured red salsa that was hot and refreshing. And a liquefied red salsa. The salsa verde was so thick I at first mistook it for guacamole. I felt like less of a wuss when my server exclaimed, “It’s so hot.”

I usually don’t have a beverage with lunch, but this food was so hot that I easily downed two glasses of Sprite.

The strips of marinated beef cooked with green pepper and onion were tender and savory. The rest of the plate was predictable, but more than adequate — yellow rice, refried beans, chopped lettuce, tomato and a large slice of cucumber.

I also broke another pattern in my normal spare lunch routine by ordering dessert. The large plate of sopapillas came dusted with cinnamon, drenched in honey, adorned with blooms of whipped cream and three maraschino cherries. I remember the pastries as being a little different when I used to order them in northern New Mexico. And I think I could have done without the whipped cream and cherries. I couldn’t quite finish the plate.

No complaints, but I’m still in search of street tacos, or maybe some authentic soul food.

wanna go?

Taquerías Guadalajara #2 Winston-Salem 908 Peters Creek Parkway, 336.724.9299