EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — I’m not trying to start a fight here, but when Texas Monthly declares an Austin version of Chico’s Tacos-style taquitos ahogados “better than the inspiration,” those are fighting words.
Chico’s Tacos is not just a food institution in El Paso, it is pride in El Paso. It’s a declaration that this West Texas — yes, Texas — town doesn’t need permission to create something deliciously, tastily, our own. It’s a declaration that tacos — rolled, crunchy or rolled and crunchy and doused in tomato saucy goodness — were always cool, even when the rest of Texas was taking its sweet time coming around to that.
Now, I’m no taco editor. I haven’t traveled around the world examining the different variations of tacos in the world. But, as my ever-expanding waistline can attest, I am an expert on Chico’s Tacos. I didn’t know that tacos ahogados were a “thing” until I lived in Austin and former El Pasoans opened up the short-lived Chuco’s Tacos (Chico’s Tacos sued and shut them down quickly after they had a similar logo).
Texas Monthly Taco Editor Jose R. Ralat’s point was not to insult our El Paso sensibilities, but he certainly struck a chord. How dare he suggest anything could be better than the original? The El Pasoan who owns the restaurant he described as better than the original, El Perrito, started the place as an homage to their hometown. We’ve no beef with him.
“Enriquez knows it’s not enough to replicate the flavors and dishes of El Chuco (one of the city’s nicknames, derived from the zoot suit–sporting pachucos of yore). He insists on perfecting them, and in my opinion, he’s done it.” Blasphemy!
As another Texas Monthly writer rightly wrote in 2013, “El Pasoans have a tortured affection for the place, like variations on a bad romance: We love it or hate it. We love to hate it. We hate to love it. Don’t go calling it names, though, because that’s our prerogative alone.”