Monday, June 18

Taqueria Los Jaliscienses 'a.k.a. Funny Shaped Taqueria'

funny shape in the house..

When I first visited the bizarre concrete structure attached to the Econo Lodge just east of I.H. 35 on Hwy 290, it housed a Jalisco Style place called Taqueria El Rancho Grande. It was solid, and I still visit the T.E.R.G. at 911 W. Anderson Lane from time to time.

Quite a few years ago, the Rancho Grande moved out to make way for Taqueria Los Jalisciences. The name being somewhat of a tongue twister, my friends and I all just refer to it as "Funny Shape Taqueria". Word on the street is that it was a Chinese restaurant when it was first built, thus the lotus flower shape. Hmm.

Anyhow, Funny Shape is one of my favorite Jalisco Style (J.S.) places in town, and I've eaten there around 100 times. You can safely file this review in the 'Old Favorites' category.

While the vast majority J.S. places in town share very similar menus (the menu at Taqueria Arandas is a handy blueprint), some of them add to the basic offerings, with varying degrees of success.

Funny Shape Taqueria is far and away the most successful at knocking the J.S. basics out of the park, while offering a large number of really high quality alternatives.

In addition to all the J.S. basics (tacos, burritos, tortas, tostadas, platos combinados, etc.) Funny Shape offers:

* A very large selection of mariscos (mexican seafood), which I have not tried. Judging from the plates I see going out to tables, however, they seem very, very popular.

* The most amazing chicken tortilla soup (sopa de tortilla) in town. It's VERY different than what you get at most tex-mex places and is vastly superior, IMHO.

* Gorditas and pupusas, which are fantastic.

* A delightful creamy green salsa that comes in addition to the verde and roja salsas you'd find at all the other J.S. places. It's somewhat similar to the green jalapeno based salsas I've seen at three of the four taco trucks in our truck shootout. I'm pretty sure it's a jalapeno, mayo blend. In any case, it rocks.

The day Jarod and I visited to snap pics for our review, we stuck with the basics. I had a torta cubana de Milanesa. It was, as usual, kick ass. For those of you not familiar, Milanesa is a thin beef cutlet that is breaded and fried, kind of similar to Wienerschnitzel. On the 'cubana' style sandwich with ham, melted white cheese, lettuce and tomato, it is absolutely delicious.

Jarod had a taco al pastor and a tostada de fajita. I can say with certainty that both of those items are consistently great at Funny Shape.

So, if you are hungry and are near the corner of I.H. 35 and 290, I can heartily recommend the Funny Shape Taqueria. It's been good to me over the years.

Funny Shape Taqueria (Taqueria Los Jaliscienses) - 4.5 stars Corbiter Deluxe.


Jason said...

Perhaps the most interesting and most important item on the menu is the Super Burrito. The Super Burrito, for ~$6, is easily two meals if not three or four and is one of the best meal deals in the Austin area. Although it does not come standard with meat, it is an option for not much expense. I highly recommend this item to all, and suggest you go back and try one.

Anonymous said...

We went here today for dinner, and I have to agree.. The food was awesome.

Anonymous said...

FYI, your directions are wrong.
Its slightly EAST(not west) of I-35 on 290.

But ditto on the food. Its good and cheap!

Alan said...

Actually the architecture with the up-swept roof line reflects that of the Googie style. Look here for more -

It was common of coffee shops of the 50's and 60's. I'm assuming this location was a coffee shop attached to the motel back then. There are a few examples in Austin. They fit with Austin's personality well.

Anonymous said...

Several groups of folks have been going over to what we call "Los" for the Tuesday lunch special of Pollo Pechuga Marinada (or something like that) for the past few years. We call it Flat Chicken. Best chicken plate in the world. Magical, really. Gotta try it to bleev it. While the green sauce is a mystery, how they make the chicken so flat and so tender is the source of much more debate.

Anonymous said...

It was indeed a coffee shop originally. We stayed at the motel in the early 80s--and the motel was way past its prime!

Cornbiter Deluxe said...

Wow. Thanks so much for the info on the architecture and history of the building. The greatest thing about tacojournalism is all the stuff we get to learn from folks.

Carmen said...

I just want to note that this is only one of SEVEN (7!) Taquerias Los Jaliciences. The one I frequent is at Cesar Chavez and Tillery (between Pleasant Valley and Springdale), where they make their own fresh corn tortillas (major points).

Pick up a business card by the door the next time you leave, to see the other locations. There is certainly one close to you.

Also if you like nopales get a taco de nopal a la mexicana (with pico de gallo). not on the menu but my personal fave request.

Germán said...

We call that restaurant "The Jetsons".

Rick Canales said...

I think that old bldg. was the original coffee shop for the adjacent Howard Johnson's Motel back in the day. Can't wait to try the food!

Harry S. (Seamus) Wildman said...

Their daily special is a meat served with copious amounts of nopal and onion, rice, beans and lettuce. Guaranteed to leave you stuffed.

Shaggy said...

Actually the daily special rotates. The one with nopales is on wed. Fri is milanesa. Them's the best.

Emily said...

We call this "the airplane restaraunt" because that is what my daughter started calling it when she was about 3. Which means we've been going there for 7 yrs at least.
The green sauce is very likely a traditional Salsa Dona - they have the same sauce at El Pollo Regio (dude, have you tried that yet?) and at TacoDeli. The first place I ever had it was the airplane restaurant, and it was love at first burn. The sauce, though surprisingly creamy, is usually only roasted jalepenos, garlic, salt and oil. I'm not kidding. Pretty much just blended roasted japs, and you get that amazing creamy texture. Definitely NO mayo. I think that's what God eats on his breakfast tacos. It kills me. I love it.

Tony Yamanaka said...

I'm going there in 8 minutes. I'm so excited to return to challenge the super burrito. It is amazing and the nopal inside of it makes it even better. Thus far, I have found this place and La Mexicana to have the best Mexican food around town.

Anonymous said...

Here's a PSA--the one down at Ben White and Manchaca (I assume they are the same chain) now has homemade flour tortillas, and they are fantastic. I hadn't been in about 3 months, so I don't know when they started offering them. But imagine my surprise today when the tacos came. Now I need to try them for breakfast. Sub $1 breakfast tacos on homemade tortillas is too good to pass up.

Anonymous said...

The green sauce, "jalapeno and mayo"???? are you kidding? That's an avocado based sauce, not mayo. Avocado, Jalapenos (or serranos) cilantro, garlic and water. Some variations have a little tomatillo. Los Jaliciences real strength is their breakfast tacos. Most of their other food is so-so. I think the best taqueria in town is Vallarta on William Cannon/Congress.

Rick Carney South Austin

Carmen said...

Wrong. Not avocado-based. Puro chile con aceite. Chilis (usually Jalapeño or serrano) and oil. And salt. Not much else.

The tomatillo sauce is usually called verde; a dish featuring it is often called "entomatado/a). This sometimes features avocado, but in sparing quantities.

Anonymous said...

Somehow or another, one of these TLJs ended up here on the Arlington/Grand Prarie line.

I've asked before what's in the green sauce, and the only thing I can get out of them is Jalopenos. They say that it does not have Avocados, and I know that it doesn't have tomatillos in it because it doesn't have that "twang" that tomatillos would give.

Burrito with skirt steak is my fave dish.