That is true even within the subcategory of tacos. These are served at El Jalapeño with the aforementioned choice of meats — the same selection that, give or take a few, is available at most area taquerias. Yet here, too, there were differences. Barbacoa refers, traditionally, to meat barbecued in a pit. I'm not sure any St. Louis restaurant could do this, permit-wise, even if it wanted to. Here, it is described as braised, yet its texture seemed closer to grilled, and it was tossed in a light red sauce much like the achiote-seasoned marinade used to make pork al pastor. All in all, the barbacoa was like a spicier carne asada.

The tacos al pastor nicely balanced a mildly spicy seasoning with the meat's porky essence — though I did miss the chunks of pineapple that accompany these tacos at La Vallesana. On weekends, you can order tacos de cabeza. This, in the broadest sense, is meat from the roasted head of a cow. I've read descriptions of cabeza meat including everything from eyes to lips, but most of the meat in Taqueria el Jalapeño's tacos de cabeza was cheek meat, richly flavored, if a tad fatty.

Taqueria el Jalapeño owner Juan Villa samples one of his restaurant's many dishes.
Jennifer Silverberg
Taqueria el Jalapeño owner Juan Villa samples one of his restaurant's many dishes.

Location Info

Map

Taqueria El Jalapeno

10009 St. Charles Rock Road
St. Ann, MO 63074

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: St. Ann

Details

Back of the House

Go behind the counter at Taqueria el Jalapeño in our slide show.

Taqueria el Jalapeño
Taco: 1.65
Huarache: $5.99
Alambres: $8.99
Enchiladas michoacanas: $9.99
10009 St. Charles Rock Road, St. Ann; 314-426-9951. Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.-Thu., 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

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I couldn't help but wonder how different another taqueria's tacos de cabeza would be. This is the true flaw in my desert-island fantasy. I'd need two or three taquerias, not just one, so that I could compare — and increase my chances of discovering yet another new thing about which I know nothing except that it's delicious.

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