Putting Taqueria Chapala to the Test


Caption: Taqueria Chapala at Cesar Chavez and Anthony St. Photo by Eric Karjala.

In the car on the way to Taqueria Chapala…

Kelly-Sue: I’m fuckin’ hungry and if this meal sucks I’m gonna be grumpy. If I have an MSG attack, I’m gonna be upset.

Eric: So, I think you’re gonna like Taqueria Chapala.

Kelly-Sue: We’ll see. My expectations are not high because I’m Mexican. I haven’t found good Mexican food in Austin.

Eric: I understand that. You come from San Antonio, that’s like living in Mexico.

Kelly-Sue: Pretty much. I’m just saying I’m hungry and this better not suck. (They pull into the parking lot.) I’m just not a big fan of the name Chapala. I mean, what’s a Chapala? A chalupa, I know what that is…

Eric: I can’t believe you doubt my ability to recognize real Mexicans operating a joint. Okay, let me ask you this: what do you think about the outside?

Kelly-Sue: I like it. I like that there’s bars on the windows… They have good hours.

Eric: I do know that there are like four TVs, they’re all set to…

Kelly-Sue: Sports?

Eric: Univision.

Kelly-Sue: Oh, cool! Maybe we’ll see my sister.

Eric: There’s usually like a telanovela and soccer. (They enter the restaurant.)

Kelly-Sue: Fútbol…

Eric: Fútbol… (Eric and Kelly-Sue both say “gooooooaaaalll” for a while, without breathing.)

Eric: Ah, that was pretty good!

Kelly-Sue: Hey, thanks. I could’ve probably gone more but then it got really annoying.

Eric: Another thing about this place, it’s relatively inexpensive, really big portions.

Kelly-Sue: Do they take cards?

Eric: Yes.

Kelly-Sue: Okay, cool.

Eric: I’m still trying to figure out what I’m gonna get. I kind of wanna get migas, but I kinda want the lengua.

Kelly-Sue: Get the lengua. Go all out.

Eric: I should probably get some guacamole… (The waitress comes to take the drink order. Kelly-Sue gets a diet Coke in a can and Eric gets a Coke.)

Kelly-Sue: This is called Chapala Taqueria #1?

Eric: Yeah, you can get breakfast tacos all day.

Kelly-Sue: Cool. That salsa is fuckin’ bangin’!

Eric: Oh? Okay! Not bad for a half-Mexican right?

Kelly-Sue: Wow, that salsa has some kick to it. I like that. It’s really good, and it tastes homemade.

Eric: It tastes fresh. It’s not so kicky that it’s like…

Kelly-Sue: No, but it’s flavorful. It’s just the right amount.

Eric: It’s just the right amount of heat. You can taste the freshness, you can taste the onion, the cilantro, the chile and yet it doesn’t melt your mouth. And it tastes like someone fuckin’ made it, and look at that, there’s chunks.

Kelly-Sue: I’m so excited right now, that I can get breakfast tacos. (Their Cokes arrive and they cheers.)

Eric: I don’t know. I wanna get the lengua, but I get the lengua pretty often. The last time I was here I got the guisada.

Kelly-Sue: I’m gonna get a carne asada taco to-go. Then I can eat it in the morning … damn, I don’t know what to get.

Eric: Oh look, you can get menudo. It’s on the back. (The waitress comes and takes their food orders. Kelly-Sue orders in Spanish and Eric in English/Spanglish.)

Kelly-Sue: I feel like I haven’t seen you, since you have a girlfriend now. You guys are hanging out all over the place.

Eric: It’s starting to feel like she’s my real girlfriend.

Kelly-Sue: She is your real girlfriend. Pictures on Instagram, checking in together, “tagging” and all that.

Eric: Yeah, it’s pretty nice, I have to say.

Kelly-Sue: You love her or what?

Eric: Yes.

Kelly-Sue: Did you tell her you love her?

Eric: Yes.

Kelly-Sue: Did she tell you she loved you?

Eric: Yes.

Kelly-Sue: Why does that gross me out?

Eric: Why does that gross you out?

Kelly-Sue: Because I don’t like her maybe.

Eric: You haven’t even met her.

Kelly-Sue: I still don’t like her. Sorry. But it doesn’t matter what I like. If you like her, love her. Therefore I will have a mutual respect for her because you love her, so I would never be mean or anything like that to her.

Eric: But you knew that I loved her before I did.

Kelly-Sue: No, I knew that you were like… I was trying to get you to admit that you were falling in love with her, but you kept denying it and I kept thinking ‘well, maybe he’s not’ or whatever. And you kept denying it too, but now you’re full-on. (Eric protests.) Now that I know that you told her you love her and she told you -and you just said right now, it’s on tape, you said “yeah, I love her.”

Eric: Yeah, but I didn’t say inlove.

Kelly-Sue: You… Eric… Quit…

Eric: Splittin’ hairs?

Kelly-Sue: Yeah. You love her. You’re inlove with her, which is cool. You know what?

Eric: More power to me.

Kelly-Sue: I’m really happy. I’m glad one of us can find true love again.

Eric: That’s not what I’m sayin’. Yeah, no, I definitely do love her, I guess.

Kelly-Sue: Do you love her with all your heart and soul?

Eric: I don’t know.

Kelly-Sue: You would do anything for her, but you won’t do that?

Eric: I don’t know that I would do anything…

Kelly-Sue: Have you ever heard that Meatloaf song?

Eric: Oh yeah. I’m not a big Meatloaf fan. I’ve heard it but…

Kelly-Sue: Are you guys going to have kids or what? And move in together?

Eric: (He thinks…) I don’t know.

Kelly-Sue: Oh my god, you’re actually considering it? I was just joking!

Eric: The kids part…

Kelly-Sue: She wants kids or what?

Eric: No, no, no. Definitely, I’m not into kids so much. I mean I don’t know. It’s too early to make those kinds of deep calls.

Kelly-Sue: Well we always hated kids.

Eric: No, yeah.

Kelly-Sue: We bonded over our hate for kids.

Eric: I don’t foresee kids anytime in my future. But even moving in together… You know what? She stayed over a few weeks ago and she’s going to stay over again tonight. I have to say, it was really nice having her there in the morning. You know? All night. But, I don’t think I’m ready to live together. It’s too early for that.

Kelly-Sue: Yeah, well, sometimes it just happens.

Eric: Don’t say that. I don’t think I’d be ready for it to just happen. (The food arrives. They take some pictures of it and thank the waitress.)

Kelly-Sue: So guess who came over and stayed the night with me?

Eric: Who?

Kelly-Sue: My ex-husband. I was having a nervous break-down and he came over and helped me out.

Eric: That’s good.

Kelly-Sue: It was totally platonic and friendly. It was good to see him, he looks good. He seems to be in a good place you know?

Eric: Well, you know my ex-wife, if she needed help, I would…

Kelly-Sue: Oh, he totally helped me. Although he did say that I should probably seek therapy.

Eric: I don’t know. You’ve done that before right?

Kelly-Sue: Yeah, I’m not a big fan of it.

Eric: I don’t think it would hurt, but I don’t think you need

Kelly-Sue: Well he said I should get on some sort of medication.

Eric: I don’t know about that.

Kelly-Sue: That’s what I said too. I’m gonna go to the bathroom.

Eric: So what do you think about the way it looks? (In reference to the food.)

Kelly-Sue: It looks good. It tastes really good. Yours looks good.

Eric: What did you end up getting? Tamales?

Kelly-Sue: No, just cheese enchiladas. Playing it safe for now. You know that story of chef’s that like… To test how good a chef is they have them make a scrambled egg or something.

Eric: Yeah, take the most basic thing and if they can do that really good then you know they can do everything else. I thought we ordered guacamole…

Kelly-Sue: I thought we did too. She forgot.

Eric: The first, bad, negative thing that’s happened to me here.

Kelly-Sue: It could still be coming. How’s your food?

Eric: It’s delicious. I don’t know why I love lengua so much, but I do. And at the price of it, I’m surprised by how much they put on my plate.

Kelly-Sue: Are you sure it’s lengua? No, I’m just kidding. I’m stuffed already.

Eric: Yeah, I kind of had a feeling that I would be too, that’s why I ix-nayed the guacamole. (The waitress comes and Kelly-Sue asks for a to-go box.)

Kelly-Sue: So, I wish they made their own tortillas.

Eric: That’s a pretty big operation. So, how does it compare to San Antonio?

Kelly-Sue: It reminds me of San Antonio… it’s not as good because most of the places I go to in San Antonio make their own tortillas there. But, it does remind me a little bit of San Antonio.

Eric: I told you you would like. So, in other words it’s the best Mexican restaurant you’ve been to in Austin?

Kelly-Sue: I can’t really say Mexican because I ordered Tex-Mex. Know what I mean?

Eric: You want a bite of this lengua? It doesn’t get much more Mexican than that.

Kelly-Sue: No. But I like it, I like the Cokes in a can, it’s good. I like the ambiance.

Eric: Service?

Kelly-Sue: She forgot your guacamole, but she was very nice. We were kind of weird when we were ordering…

Eric: I would say that having a little bit of Spanish speaking skills would come in handy.

Kelly-Sue: Yeah, maybe. You could also just point at something.

Eric: I’m just saying, be prepared.

Kelly-Sue: I wasn’t a big fan of the rice, to be honest. The cheese enchiladas were super cheesy. I would almost try beef ones or chicken ones if they’re going to put cheese on top of them. Super cheesy. The beans are good.

Eric: Would you bring your parents here? Sister?

Kelly-Sue: Yeah, I would bring them here. I don’t know, my dad though, is so picky. I would come back and try a few other things. I would love to try the menudo.

Eric: I’ve been telling you about this place for a long time and you’re like “you’re only half-Mexican, what do you know?”


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