TAQUERIA JALISCO – 612 St. Andrews Road, Columbia SC

Posted by The LunchMen Friday, March 4, 2011

 Buenas Dias, mis amigos!

After a miserably frigid January and February, the recent uptick in temperatures has put the Lunchmen in a Fiesta state of mind. Eager to indulge in all the deliciousness our neighbors south of the border can offer, the Lunchmen sponsored no less than 2 trips this week for Mexican fare. On Wednesday, Captain Understatement, Tank and I ventured into the black hole of real estate between Irmo and Downtown for Taqueria Jalisco. For those of you not familiar with TJ, it’s a little gem of a restaurant tucked away in what is probably the nicest shopping center on St. Andrews (not that that is saying much) just off I-26 westbound. 

TJ is a Mexican restaurant in the traditional sense, with free chips and salsa, immigrant waiters and waitresses, and lots of candy for sale at the counter. However, unlike its brethren, whose food seems to get greasier, dirtier, and mushier every time I go back (I’m talking to you San Jose, Monterrey’s and La Fiesta), there is something about TJ that seems a cut above the rest. Maybe it’s the cool clean air-conditioning, or maybe it’s the fact that the tables and booths aren’t stacked too close together, or maybe it’s the little additions to the cuisine that you don’t get at any old Mexican place. Whatever it is, we have noticed enough to make Taqueria Jalisco our go-to lunch spot when we want to fill up on chips, tacos, and beer.

Upon arrival, the Captain and the Tank quickly ordered beers, and I went ahead and told the waiter we’d be needing another round of chips and salsa as he was placing our first basket on the table. I’ve been to enough rodeos to know that one basket of chips and salsa is enough – for one person. When you have three grown men darkening your doors, you’d better be prepared to offer AT LEAST three rounds of free chips and salsa, damn it.

TJ features all of the normal Mexican dishes you would expect – tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, et al., with rice and beans complimenting most dishes. However, where Jalisco really earns its stripes are with its specialty tacos. Rather than loaded down with grade Q white cheese and meat that may or not be mammalian, TJ’s tacos are tightly wrapped masterpieces that are served hot, sans cheese (so you know rabbit is down), with a side of diced chives and onions to pour on. Add in their salsa and you’ve got a truly baller taco. Order three, eat for around 6 bucks, and leave stuffed and blissful.

The tacos come in steak, chicken, pork, and even beef tongue if you are adventurous like the Tank. (BTW – Tank also highly recommends TJ’s tortas, but warns that it invariably comes out much later than the rest of the food, usually when everyone else is finished, thus affecting some of the satisfaction one would normally derive from such a tasty treat).

I should also note that I’ve tried some of the other menu items (fajitas) and there are, in a word, adequate. They certainly aren’t terrible, and you’ll probably enjoy them enough, but there is just no reason to order anything other than the aforementioned tacos. To do otherwise would be akin to visiting Teotichaun and not going to the pyramids. In other words – why even bother?



  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. I believe the side condiment to the excellent tacos is chopped cilantro, rather than chives. At least that has been the case in my previous excursions. The tortas are indeed a delicious alternative to the tacos. However, I usually go with two tacos and a bowl of the absolutely marvelous chicken soup, which has fresh avocado and to which I squeeze in half a lime. That, plus those chips and salsa, leave me filled to the brim and very happy. The only downer is that like a number of other Mexican places, TJ is unable to produce a drinkable iced tea (although they give you a lot of it). But if you do have room, they have a crazy little dessert of fresh fruit and melon with a sauce that reminds me of the sweetened condensed mixture that in my childhood was the base for making freezer ice cream in those old metal ice trays.
    Thanks for posting. I check often to see what is good.
    Suggestion: There is a little place downtown in the alley behind the Mariott hotel that replaced the Indian restaurant. And I am not sure I have seen a review of a trip to Thirsty Fellow. Am looking forward to a posting on the Tin Roof.

  3. b1g Says:
  4. This has become my absolute favorite Mexican restaurant on earth. Every time I eat there is nothing short of ¡Excellente!

    The Chorizo Dip (white cheese dip with chorizo sausage sprinkled in) is a fantastic appetizer for dipping chips prior to the main event. For the entre, I most highly recommend the Chilaquiles Toluca. This dish consists of tortilla strips cooked in a green chile mole (sauce) with pulled chicken. The whole concoction is topped with a fried egg and served with refried beans and rice. Add a little of the aforementioned chorizo dip to the rice, and OMG! Your tongue might beat your brains out. It's just that good.

    As mentioned in the original post, the tacos *are* absolutely awesome. The pork and tongue tacos are truly my favorites. I never thought I'd eat beef tongue in my life, but after having tried one, I usually get at least one on the side every time I visit.

    I have taken several friends to eat here also, and I've never gotten anything less than an A+ review afterward. I don't think there's really anything on the menu that would be a bad choice.

    Put this restaurant on your radar, and GO! Check them out! You will not be disappointed.



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Rabbit, Tank, and The Publican are three dudes just trying to get through the work week here in Columbia. Rabbit is a Columbia native, Tank is from Charleston, and The Publican hails from Greenville. Rabbit's favorite lunch spot is the No Name Deli on Elmwood, where you may find him putting down a grilled chicken salad and a side of vinegar pasta. The Publican usually wants to find food to cure his all-too-common hangovers. Tank claims no favorite lunch spot - he lives for the thrill of the hunt.