Mexican groceries in Ballston Spa?
Yep, on Doubleday Avenue, you’ll find corn husks for tamale-making, packages of Mexican sweet bread and Paleta Payaso, marshmallow-and-chocolate treats for children.
At Taqueria Guadalajara, a new restaurant in Ballston Spa, one can dine in, take out or buy a few grocery items and whip up your own Mexican feast.
Taqueria is in the space next to Dunkin Donuts that was formerly Alaturco Mediterranean Grill. On the Friday night when we popped in, we recognized the tangerine walls, shiny wood floor and stylish light fixtures, but now there are decorative painted pigs on the window sill, a guitar and Guadalajara flag on the walls and the aforementioned groceries, neatly shelved at the far end of the room.
Still jittery about COVID, we selected a table for two that was about 15 feet from the nearest of the seven other tables.
A minute later, a young woman breezed over for our drink orders. Alcoholic beverages are not available, but you can have a Jarritos Mexican soda or horchata, a milky rice drink that I fell in love with when I lived in San Diego. This horchata was light and not too sweet.
“We make our own horchata,” she said.
The complimentary tortilla chips were warm and crispy, and Hubby gave the salsa a thumbs up.
Honoring the name “Taqueria,” I wanted to test the tacos, four for $10, that can be ordered al pastor (marinated, grilled pork) or with chicken, carne asada (steak), chorizo (sausage) or carnitas (pulled pork).
“Can I mix them up?” I asked.
“Yes, you can do two and two,” the waitperson said.
I decided to “pig out” and was happy I did. The four warm double corn tortillas were generously stuffed, and the scent of marinated meat swirled up from the plate as it was placed before me. The carnitas (pulled pork) was tender, the al pastor nuggets had bits of pineapple mixed in, and all four tacos were thickly topped with chopped onion and cilantro. To further enhance the experience, the dish was accompanied by a pair of fat lime wedges, grilled scallions, radish slices, cups of chunky green sauce and hot red sauce, and a sturdy steak knife. After dressing them up, my tacos were so juiced and sauced, I had to lean over the table to eat them.
Hubby went for a carnitas quesadilla, a super-sized flour tortilla envelope that was cut into quarters. After the dish arrived, he was so immersed in his food, I had to coax a comment from him.
“Very satisfying,” he finally replied. “And the guac is perfect.”
Snatching a big bite off the edge of his quesadilla, I found it soft and cheesy, and even better when swiped through the smooth-and-chunky guacamole, which apparently was house-made with lime juice, and then some cool Mexican crema.
All the food is made by Gilberto and Patricia, the owners, and they use only Qaxaca cheese, a semi-hard white cheese with texture like mozzarella.
Hubby was pleased that his quesadilla was not covered in cheese and was served with salad, and my tacos did not contain cheese. Both meals seemed lighter, fresher and less goopy than what you may encounter at other Mexican restaurants.
And the menu goes way beyond tacos, as the couple also makes tamales, burritos, tostadas, sopes (fried masa with toppings) and tortas (a Mexican sandwich made with crusty bread) plus side dishes of chiles toreados (roasted hot peppers) and cebolitas (grilled scallions). Vegetarians will be challenged, as meat rules the menu. Adding a bean burrito to the menu would solve this problem.
Because I’m crazy about fish, I asked about Mojarra Frita, a whole fried tilapia, which wasn’t on the menu but was pictured on Facebook as a weekend-only special.
“It’s a big piece of fish,” she said, “and it comes with rice and beans, salad, guacamole, tortillas, Mexican sour cream and pico de gallo.”
It appears the word is out about this place; as we were getting ready to go, a line of people was waiting to pick up or order takeout.
We couldn’t finish our meals and packed the rest up with two servings of flan for dessert.
At home, I slid the dome of pale yellow custard into a pretty china dish, drizzled it with the carmel sauce and sat down in a comfy chair with a cup of tea.
Oh my! This flan was so tender and eggy; as good as the baked custard my Mom used to make.
So I messaged them on Facebook.
“Yes, we make it homemade.”
WHERE: 2007 Doubleday Ave. (Route 50), Ballston Spa; 518-309-1012; Facebook, Instagram
WHEN: 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
HOW MUCH: $41.16 before tip for food and two non-alcoholic drinks.
MORE INFO: Takeout, kid’s menu, Mexican grocery items, parking in front of restaurant.