It was the middle of the 31st Annual El Reno Day Burger Festival and I still hadn’t had anything to drink or eat, patiently waiting hours for the famous giant onion burger to make its riotous display.
However, with the burger still cooking on its obscenely large grill, I needed some sort of nourishment to keep me on my weakening feet and, sorry Mack, but the bacon-covered chicken-sticks and other assorted streetcar ephemera wasn’t going to do the trick.
Standing by the Rock Island stage, enamored by Ballet Folklorico Norahua performing their intricately designed dances, my stomach tightened as I looked over my shoulder and saw numerous locals not participating in today’s event with an onion burger in their hands, but instead tacos—puro tacos!—rolled up and stuffed down their mouths as they too cheered the impressive dancers.
A small restaurant—occupancy is only around 33 or so—Tacos Jalisco, 207 S. Rock Island Ave. in El Reno, was my immediate savior; walking into the obviously family-owned establishment, I breathlessly told the woman behind the counter I’d like six tacos please: a pair of barbacoa ($1.49 each), a pair of tripas ($2.50 each) and, of course, a pair of lengua ($1.85 each).
A medium cup of horchata ($2.50) to deeply soak the neck-pains of a recently operated-on throat gently topped the bill. Finding a recently vacated seat, I was brought out freshly prepared chips and about three different kinds of homemade hot-sauces; spurting sauce on each chip like a low-rent adult film veteran, I noticed much of the clientele was coming off the streets to buy cerveza and then take it back out to the burger-lords that ruled El Reno today.
As my perfectly plated tacos hit the table however, their loss, I mostly presumed.
As I quickly streamed a portion of the orange-ish hot sauce across the crunchy stomach lining that makes up the tripa taco, combining sheer jealously with the onions and cilantro, I settled back as the quiet nourishment from this South of the Border gift delivered to my stomach lining quite swiftly. The chewy chunks of tongue—or lengua, if you must—were a passably attractive middle feast, especially with a few squirts of Jalisco’s chilled green sauce, delivering a momentary hot flash that was like a deep and wanton kiss from a sexy lady cow.
But, per usual, the true treat was my personal favorite, the delicate strains of barbacoa. These chunky beef cheeks—dimples and all—only reaffirmed why it’s a style and a cut that I consider to be a beloved meat; a couple more dashes of that heathen red sauce, along with a few sips of the saintly horchata, truly made this an El Reno Day Burger Festival to always remember, at least for a cabrón like me. Cómpralo ya!