Home » Restaurants, Tacos

Iglesia de la Vaquita?

Posted by CDB 25 Jun 2008 9 Comments

La Vaquita has always been a standby for tacos and tortas, maybe even a recognizable platillo.  Recently I decided to go further.  I came with a friend and got a little excited and so did the man working the counter.  He was noticably pleased by our order.  It was one of the coolest ordering experiences I’ve had, like we bonded.  He made me feel like one of Hemingway’s bull fighting aficionados (I know, too literary).  We ordered three plates and brought them home.  Before leaving the man called me back to the counter and gave me a La Vaquita pen inscribed with the phone number.  So you can call ahead, he told me in Spanish.

Huilotes (hwee-lo-tess) azadas, or grilled quail.  My inspiration for this menu adventure was once seeing a handwritten sign for quail either fried or in mole.  Unfortunately they were out of those apparently larger quail and could only offer up these smaller, grilled birds.  The meat was very flavorful, like a perfect blend of pork and chicken.  I asked for a cup of mole on the side so we could get an idea of how it would taste.  Since then I haven’t stopped thinking about huilotes en mole.  Now I understand why the man at the counter said he was getting hungry just putting together the plate.

These costillas de res con nopales had a bewitching flavor.  The ribs were tremendously flavorful in a way that only proper cooking can do.  After much debate, we settled that they must only be seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic–with the possible addition of lime.  When paired with the bright flavor of the nopal it really was awesome.

Now the real star of the show, lengua guisada.  The beef tongue was stewed in a flavorful sauce that is led by smokey quajillo chiles, the same chile that makes al pastor items so great.  It was so good it almost needs the rice.  Otherwise your jaw just might fall off.

This meal was a spiritual experience.  I may have already ordered my last taco.


  • Gary said:

    Amazing. So how long did you have to wait for this feast?


  • CDB (author) said:

    The huilotes take about twenty minutes. I’m not sure how long for the ribs on their own. They seemed pretty fresh, so about the same I’d guess. The lengua cooks a long long time and is likely the first out of the gate.
    Call it in or do like this one genius I saw there, order a taquito for while you wait. Brilliant.


  • Phil said:

    Greetings from Honduras where I’m now itching for Mexican food in Durham :-)

    Last night I hung out with some Hondurans who were comparing the merits of northern vs. southern Honduran cuisine. But they were united in saying that Mexican cuisine is much better.

    And of course, why shouldn’t it be, if only on the basis of numbers? Mexico is a bamillion times larger than Honduras, so of course it has more options. Mind you, the Swiss with their tiny numbers (about the same populaiton as Honduras) figured out how to be global stars in various arenas (banking, watchmaking, neutrality, muesli…) but they’re special that way.

    Tomorrow I wander south into the Honduran mountains to check out their multivaried flor and fauna. But this is all an intro to say that I misread something in your blog today: when I saw “smokey” quajillo, I thought you had written “monkey” quajillo.


  • chonblanco (author) said:

    Phil, keep on the lookout for the many amazing soups in Honduras, if you haven’t already. Mondongo in particular is awesome when done right (with tons of either jugo de coco or aceite de coco, I can’t recall exactly which) and Tapado is great. Baleadas are a simple treasure. I’ve only heard of one enigmatic place in Durham that makes them, the other I believe closed. And if you haven’t had some good quesadilla (the pan dulce) then your hosts have slaped you in the face. If you’re into cheese, check out some quajada (sp?) and queso duro from Olancho. If you go to Tegus and want platano frito, hit Los Tuneles. Lastly, you best have had some atole de elote and some fritas. It is corn season and the Mayas lived on it for years and years, if corn isn’t done right down there then I couldn’t tell you where to look.

    Whew. I got a little excited there. Disfrutalo!


  • Heather said:

    Taqueria La Vaquita now has a Facebook page and a website, which I think is new:
    I just love this place and am so glad that so many others do as well…


  • Devorame otra vez, La Vaquita « Carpe Durham said:

    [...] art, and both are beautiful.  The quail itself was much better than the smaller ones I had grilled previously.  The meat was much jucier and easier to remove.  I liked putting chunks of the chicken/pork [...]

  • Taqueria Y Birreria Los Comales « Carpe Durham said:

    [...] commented, everything was a bit muted compared to other taquerias. I think it’s mostly that the mole at La Vaquita has ruined just about every other mole for me. Still, Los Comales is stellar and absolutely worth a [...]

  • TSQ75 said:

    you mentioned having nopales on one of your plates here….

    I’m wanting to finally try some nopales, real, fresh, for the first time (yes, I know). do you all know of a place in town that makes them well? what should i look for?


  • J_Ronn said:

    I live about a black away from the Chapel Hill Rd location and eat there at least once a week. My “go to” is the chorizo burrito and a couple of asada tacos, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu; it’s soooo good! I think I’ll eat lunch there today!


Leave your response!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.