The Search for the Best Tacos is Kalamazoo – Quekas
I've said it before; you either love Mexican food or you're wrong. Yesterday, I visited the first stop on my quest for the best tacos in Kalamazoo. I was so excited I ran around the station saying "tacos, tacos, tacos," until it was time to leave. I wish I was kidding. There were witnesses.
Before I give you my review of Quekas, you should know what criteria I'm looking for in my search. Lets start with the three types of Mexican restaurants:
- That's Not Mexican. This category is where fast-food-Mexican or bastardized frozen "quesadillas with dipping sauce" live. There's nothing wrong with any of it; it's convenience food, and it's meant to be inexpensive, quick, and hunger banishing, but it's not Mexican. The Aztecs did not invent the Crunchwrap. Just because you throw something on a tortilla doesn't mean it has harnessed authenticity.
- American-Mexican. Have you ever gone to a Mexican restaurant that has burgers or pizza on the menu? Maybe they throw some mozzarella sticks or a basket of fries in the appetizer section? These restaurants are the dipping-the-toe-in-the-pool stops on your way to real Mexican food. These restaurants boast spicy menu items that barely tingle. They add cheese to everything because, 'Merica. Their margarita list is, often, longer than their menu (I'm not complaining). Again, there's nothing wrong with it. It's a people pleaser, for sure. Everyone in the family, from fussy children to Great Aunt Sophie who thinks milk is spicy, will leave full and happy. But not exactly what I'm after...
- Mexican. Usually tucked away in a storefront you've passed by for six years and never noticed it, these are the places you want to suss out. Look for cactus and lengua on the menu. Trust me. Those are super secret indicators that you are in good hands.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, lets talk tacos. A taco is, simply, a tortilla folded around filling. But, in the U.S., it has gotten mucked up a bit over time. Too many ingredients have led this simple food astray. In my quest for the best taco in Kalamazoo, I am looking for a tasty tortilla, and flavorful filling with minimal ingredients. Simple, right? That's the point. A good taco is an uncomplicated taco.
I checked out Quekas Authentic Mexican Restaurant on Cork Street. They have everything you have come to know and love; wet burritos, flautas, fajitas. They even have authentic breakfast served all day. First thing I noticed on the menu? They serve lengua tacos and a cactus salad. So far, so good, Quekas.
I ordered three tacos (in order of appearance); a cochinita pibil (shredded pork), a rajas (poblano pepper), and a pastor (diced pork), served Mexicano, which is with cilantro and onions. You have the option of going Americano, which has the lettuce, cheese, and tomato a lot of fans have gotten used to.
Gaze upon the majesty.
As you can see, there's an awful lot of filling in these tacos, but the tortilla isn't there to be pretty. Quekas' flour tortillas are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, similar to Indian naan, if you can believe it. Very tasty. I could have (and would have) happily eaten them on their own. All three tacos were delicious, the pastor, with it's hint of sweetness, beat out the much more savory cochinitia (in my opinion). But the surprise winner was the underdog, the rajas poblano pepper taco, seen in the center. Not only is it a great vegetarian option on their menu, the flavor was perfect. Nothing was overpowering, not even the pepper. Now, I don't shy away from spicy food, but if it's hot, it needs to have flavor. I don't want my meal to taste like a dare. With that said, the poblano was roasted perfectly treating my taste buds to a warm tingle. Best part? Three tacos and a soft drink for under $8. Delectable and affordable.
My journey for the best taco in Kalamazoo has just begun, but so far, Quekas' Rajas Taco (Mexicano) is going to give the competition a run for their money.
Here are some more tasty treats you can find at Quekas.
Fortunately for you, no one took a video of me eating. It wasn't pretty, but it was delicious.
If you get the chance, check out Quekas. Their service was friendly and fast, and they put up with six radio people at one time, so their patience is endless.
On to my next Kalamazoo taco stop. Where should it be?