Lonches and Tacos

See that delicious looking thing above?  That, my friends, is a lonche.  And that particular one was prepared by my blogger friend and dynamite cook, Leslie [http://www.lacocinadeleslie.com/].  Lonches, sometimes called tortas, are the Mexican equivalent of a sub or hero or po’boy sandwich, although they remind me more of the Cuban sandwiches which are so popular in southern Florida. 

Served on bolillo rolls, normally grilled, you can find them filled with a variety of meats and vegetables, but the most common items here in Joco seem to be jamon [ham], queso [cheese], lechuga [lettuce], jitomates [tomatoes], and jalapenos.  Other popular choices are arrachera [beef flank or skirt steak] and pierna [pork], as well as aguacate [avocado]  or cebollas [onions]. 

Jocotepec, I’m sure you will all be surprised to learn [snicker], is not really one of the restaurant hubs of Lake Chapala.  This is a blue collar worker type town and tends to attract working class expats, so most of us eat at home.  We’re not a bunch of foodies looking for the next “happening” place. 

Perhaps that’s why one of my favorite places here is only open on weekends.  My guess is that the employees have other jobs during the week and that the owner [who, in his “other life” is a physical therapist] is wise enough to know that his clientele gets paid once a week, on Saturdays, and therefore the place is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, as you can see from the sign. 

But he does a pretty good business anyway, even though he’s only open two days a week from 2pm until about nine PM.  One reason for this is that the place is spotless!

It always gives the appearance of just having been scrubbed down.  I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants in my life, and I can tell you from first hand experience, it’s hard to keep a place this clean.   Particularly if your place is located on a very busy, dusty street in Jocotepec!

Another reason they get business is because the prices are right. 

A nice large lonche will run you about 28 pesos [$2.03US at today’s exchange rate].   And a nice big glass of jamaica drink another 10 pesos [73US cents] more.   And you get these lovely ladies to make your meal or serve you:

Another one of my favorite places to eat in Jocotepec is “the taco place.”  I’m sure it has a name, but most of us gringos just say, “that taco place around the corner from the laundry” or “down the street from the bus station.”

And I think you can pretty much figure out what they serve.  Yep, tacos.  That’s it.  Everything in the place costs 8 pesos [58US cents].  Doesn’t matter what kind of taco and doesn’t matter what kind of soft drink you’re getting…..8 pesos.  It always makes me think of that old Saturday Night Live ongoing skit about cheeseburgers in Chicago at the Billy Goat Tavern.  [And that’s not a bad thing.] 

Your choices here are tacos, tacos, tacos, and tacos.  No need for a menu.  Oh, sure, the waiters rattle off what kind of meat you can choose to put in your tacos….but it’s always tacos. 

But, oh, what delicious tacos they are! 

For your eight pesos [times how many tacos you want], they bring you some limes, some cilantro and onions, and some salsa so you can ‘doctor them up’ to your own satisfaction. 

And, trust me, these are not Taco Bell tacos!  [Not that I don’t love those, too!]   These are freshly cooked meat on freshly made tortillas:

Too much meat to even contain in your tortillas!  Now that’s the way to serve tacos!

So when my friends Linda and Ric come down to visit later this year, we’ll definitely be dining at these places!

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About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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10 Responses to Lonches and Tacos

  1. Kathi says:

    Found another yummy taco place, Bertha’s on Matamoros around the corner from Santander.
    Really good.

    Can never get enough of tacos of Mexico.
    The Casa del Lonche is a super place….mmmmmm everything on the menu is wonderful.
    Who wants to go for Lonche???

  2. Mike Osborn says:

    Barb,
    Another “delicious” blog and I’m not trying to be “punny.”
    Agree with you on the “taco place”, which if it hasn’t changed it’s name recently is Don Emilio’s. I like it because they use the double mini-tortilla and then put so much meat into them that one taco easily becomes two. Now for taco Al Pastor, I prefer another “no name” place on Hildalgo, across & a bit south from La Careta. I’m getting hungry as I type this.
    Where is this lonches place? I’m not a fan of tortas, but I’d still like to give that place a try. I so miss Mis Tortas and that really nice guy who ran it.
    Kathi, drop me a note when you want to go… it’ll just be us gals.

    • Barbara says:

      Mike, La Casa del Lonches is on the south side of the next parallel street north of Morelos, and about three or four blocks east of the mercado. the entrance is NOT wheelchair friendly. however, you can see their phone number on the menu and i’m gonna bet that if you called and ordered, they would bring your lonches out to you in your truck when you drove by!!

  3. gayle says:

    Absolutamente PERFECTO!

    I finally get to see a ‘real’ Mexican restaurante w/REAL Mexican offerings , & really decent prices – and IN MEXICO! Sign me up for 3 tacos please! Here in Portland, there’s a great working class Mexican restaurant up the street (6 blocks away) that makes killer tacos w/two baby corn tortillas. I usually get pork carnitas, onion, celantro, etc. (my favorite). The tacos here cost $1.25 dollars, but you get two. Then I usually split the two into 4 tacos, because there’s so much meat filling. Then I get to load them up with salsas of different kinds. Yummy.

    These places are NOT like those upscale doo-dah places in Ajijic (not that I haven’t had a good meal there, as well). Try to get yourself to ‘Las Margaritas’ in San Antonio for great inexpensive meals in an outdoor courtyard – with a very talkative parrot & lots of exotic plants. When you get to the Talavera tile place (East of Tony’s), turn South toward the lake & walk two/three doors toward the lake, on that one-way only North-bound street. The restaurant is on the West side of the street. The owner used to own a really upscale Ajijic eatery, but decided she’d prefer to own/operate a really great neighborhood restaurant below her home, in her own courtyard, I believe? Anyway, try it. You’ll love it.

    I wish I’d found these Joco places when I was in Joco a year ago. Instead, I got a to-go meal at the local chicken rotisserie place, and ate it while I walked to the malecon. But, it was delicious. And cheap! (cheep, cheep…!)

    ps: I’ve retired, but am still working; I plan to be there full time come September, October at the latest. I plan to work on my tan next Winter – in Mexico!

    pps: I love both of Leslie’s blogs. Do you know in what town they own that upholstery shop? I’d like to visit her sometime this next year! Have you met her yet?

    Happy New Year, Gaby from balmy (today) PDX

    • Barbara says:

      Gaby, i’ll have to see if Las Margaritas is still there. Restaurants come and go with rather alarming regularity here!

      And, yes, any of the chicken rotisserie places here in Joco are really good! But when you get down here later this year, we’ll hook up and I’ll take you to some other places in Joco!

      Leslie once told me in which pueblo she lives [it’s really small], but i can’t remember which it is. If you go onto her blogs [http://www.lacocinadeleslie.com/p/contact-me.html], she has a ‘contact me’ tab and you can email her and ask. i’ve not yet met her myself, but my friends and i are planning to take a little road trip up her way and maybe i’ll finally get to meet her! She’s one of my heroes!

  4. Gigi says:

    Oh, yum, you’re killing me!

  5. Deborah says:

    Wonderful reviews of great sounding places in Jocotepec! I am on my first visit to this area – just retired and planning to move here soon – staying in the Ajijic area but this is not for me! Maybe Jocotepec is a bit more down to earth?! (not rich or famous) Any suggestions on how to find a place to live/stay in Jocotopec? I know where to look for Ajijic – (bulletin boards, LCS, rental agents, etc) but never see rentals in Jocotepec. Is there a secret to your area? Thanks. Also enjoyed your blog on Ixtlahuacan – another place that sounds really great!

    • Barbara says:

      Deborah, finding a place to live in Joco is knowing whom to ask! no bulletin boards here. and yes, it is a LOT different from ajijic. many of my friends love ajijic but it’s totally NOT for me. and, yeah, joco is WAY more down to earth.

      but i must tell you that you need to actually come to Joco to visit for a day or two or three before deciding this is the place for you. for many people recently relocated here, it’s much too far away from the things they are comfortable with. so rent a car or take the bus and come out and see jocotepec.

      if you are really interested after that, contact me again on this blog. that will give me your email address and i’ll contact you.

      barb

      • Deborah says:

        Hi Barbara
        Well I have run out of time this trip and only made it to Joco once and found the Malecon. I hope to return in the Fall (to actually live here?!?!) and thought it would be a good idea to find an inexpensive place to stay – B&B maybe – in Joco for a few days at that time to get a feel for the place. I know Ajijic is not for me, I like San Antonio and Chapala and have made a couple of visits to Ixtlahuacan and thought that might be an okay place to live. Maybe even east of Chapala or the south side of the lake. Maybe you could suggest someplace to stay in Joco for a few days or I can contact you again when I make my return plans. Hopefully you will now have my email address. Thanks.
        Deborah

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