There’s something limitless about tacos in Mexico. All you need for a good taco is a soft corn tortilla – handmade are a plus – and a filling, which can take the form of meats such as al pastor, carnitas, mixiote, fish, vegetables and, lesser-known outside of Mexico, guisados.
Guisado is a general term that refers to any cooked meat or vegetable that can be served as a main dish, especially at a comida corrida in any of the family-run restaurants known as fondas. The places that sell tacos de guisado are plentiful in the Mexico City. In Colonia Roma, however, there’s one that makes an exceptional version.
Taquería El Jarocho has been at the corner of Manzanillo and Tapachula, just a block away from one of Mexico City’s busiest avenues, for more than 70 years. In 1944, Manuel Aquino, also known as El Jarocho, a nickname given to people who hail from the port of Veracruz, opened a tortilla shop right where the taquería sits now. He happened to also be an excellent cook, heating up the guisados he made for his family in clay pots on the griddle he used to cook handmade tortillas. Workers around the neighborhood wanted to try Aquino’s cooking, and that’s how he started selling guisado-filled tacos. After Aquino passed away in 1962, his wife and children took over the business, which still remains in the family. Some of Aquino’s recipes are still used at the taquería, which has been kept up to date, the space now big and bright, with a warm and welcoming waitstaff and even a bar.
It’s easy to see why El Jarocho has been in business for so long. The first thing we liked about this taquería were the handmade tortillas. To fill them, we ordered the pollo en mole verde, pulled chicken cooked in a green mole made with pumpkin seeds and fresh herbs, which whetted our appetite for more. So we followed it up in quick succession with pollo en mole rojo, chicken cooked in a red mole, and cerdo en morita, pork cooked in a sauce made from a chile similar to chipotle but smoother. But we liked most of all the lengua a la veracruzana, tender slow-cooked beef tongue in a tomato sauce with olives, white wine and bay leaves – a few bites of bliss.
Besides tacos de guisado, the menu features tacos a la plancha, so called for the griddle on which the meats – chicken, beef or pork chops – are cooked. There’s also a section dedicated to El Jarocho’s own inventions. We tried the house specialty just because the description caught our eye: Super Campechano, steak and chicharrón prensado (fried pork) served with guacamole and fresh cheese. The verdict? Spectacular.