Sunday, November 9, 2008

El Jaliciense Market

Nashville Restaurants and Food
El Jaliciense Market
3225 Gallatin Pike

Okay, first off this isn’t the El Jaliciense on Charlotte that we have reviewed, enjoyed and is doing fine. This is a market with a taqueria attached and the building has housed at least three restaurants in the last few years, a couple of which we have reviewed in this blog. So, why try again, given the high chance of this version closing? We want to stress what great meals can be had at these little mom and pop places. There is such care taken in the food that it simply transcends the majority of Mexican available in Nashville.

We were the only ones in the place on a Friday night at 8pm. Not a very good sign. Our friends Jackie and Don had a heck of a time finding the place, but finally we settled in to order. There is a simple menu on a white board listing the usual tortas, tacos, burritos and quesadillas. It’s what you choose to put in those items that can get as authentic as you would like. Many cow parts are represented, including lips (Labio), tongue (Lengua), stomach (menudos) and of course actual beef itself along with chicken and pork. You may have a little trouble ordering unless you know some basic Spanish. The husband and wife team smile and take to the kitchen to fill the order and emerge with plates of taqueria perfection. Burritos look majestic topped with thick slices of red, ripe tomato, crisp onion and sour cream (this actually surprised us, we figured crema would be standard). A fork full reveals tender, tasty chicken, rice and beans. Quesadillas are light, toasted and filled with melting cheese. There is a light touch with nearly everything. Torta rolls are just kissed with a grill and then baked on the outside with crispy result. A whole ripe avocado is sliced on the plate for easy scooping. There’s more fresh avocado and perfectly charred adobada inside. Adobada is pork, marinated in red chili and vinegar. It’s the cousin of Al Pastor, and a nice twist.

Our friends order aqua and he asks Horchata, tamarindo or jamaica? These three aqua frescas are traditional flavored waters with the horchata a cinnamon, milk like drink, which is actually usually made with rice. They say sure, bring on the horchata. It’s good, but then I’ve only had a few horchatas in my time, so I really can’t judge.

We finish and the smiling woman comes out again and presents us with pretty little cookies, smothered in powdered sugar. We ask what they are and she replies queso, but we may have misheard. They don’t taste like cheese cake and have the consistency and taste of a dense Italian lemon cookie. The gratis cookies are simply the perfect end to the perfect little Friday night dinner.

Veggie Eater: Not much English here, so makes it a bit dicey for the Veggie Eater to order. However, after some negotiation in bad Spanish and limited English, we agree on the cheese quesadilla, with rice and beans. Their salsas are fabulous. The salsa verde has quite a bit of heat to it. Then there is the sublime red sauce. I hesitate to call it a salsa. It appeared to be dried roasted peppers pestled into oil. I discerned no tomato in this mixture; very complex flavor with a subtle after burn which made a wonderful accompaniment to the quesadilla. Beans and rice were both well seasoned, though no surprises in the flavor.

Meat Eater: We paid $18 for the two of us, including drinks tax and tip.


Anonymous said...

This place is incredible. How meagre and denuded my life had been, until the day I walked into this place tried the tacos camarones. Sweet, succulent and graced with fresh onion and cilantro. I had tears in my eyes. The fish tacos were perfect: fresh, mild fish stuffed unrelentingly into the steaming taco.

I keep going back, trying to understand why this place is not stuffed with clientele.

Anonymous said...


Unknown said...

The only authentic real deal in Nashville. You won't find ice tead here but real Mexican food is so wonderful.

kate said...

Five star authentic spanish food folks and experience ... the staff is friendly an bilangual so no mix ups on i watched a soccer game...enjoyed an awsome chicken qesadea as the owners...yep the owners r down to earth folks will come out an chat an make ya feel rite welcom...hope in an try it promise yal have ya never look for another...