There are things in life that we come back to over and over again. Matt Damon yelling about apples outside Dunkin’ Donuts. The Celtics overcoming a 24-point deficit during Game 4 of the 2008 NBA Finals. Dancing to the “Cupid Shuffle” at every wedding known to man. And the tamales from Taquería Jalisco.
Because the tamales at Jalisco - a small restaurant at one of the many illogical East Boston intersections - are really good. They’re made in-house, with a healthy portion of masa surrounding moist chicken with salsa verde or tender pork with a spicier salsa roja. Choosing between the two is like picking a favorite child - possible, but probably not the wisest of decisions. Luckily, you can order multiples of each since they’re only $2.99 per tamale, which is a lot cheaper than lifelong family therapy sessions.
Almost everything else on the menu is solid as well. The tacos are simple meat, onion, and cilantro combos on corn tortillas, but the three tableside salsas (which all vary on the heat index) transform them into worthy tamale-sidekicks. The Torta Mexicana with carnitas is a huge grilled sandwich with an ideal ratio of tender pork to bread. And on those winter nights when breathing results in a brain freeze, the huge bowls of soup - especially the pozole - are more effective than the LED fireplace you bought at Kmart’s closing sale.
Jalisco’s only real drawback is its size - the booths make it almost impossible for more than four people to sit together. Even with four, it can be tight, especially once the table is filled with tamales, burritos, and a whole fried fish. However, unless your group includes Pierce, Allen, and Garnett, you can make it work. Just know that you could be cozying up to a romanticized painting of a farmer and his horse as you consume your delicious tamales. Either way, it’s still more comfortable than the 78th time you’re told to kick and walk it by yourself.
The tamales here are stellar. You have the choice of chicken with salsa verde, or pork with salsa roja - order five of each.
Don’t expect any modern taco interpretations with heritage poblanos at Jalisco. The tacos here are the standard trio of meat, onion, and cilantro, but they’re still solid. Our favorites are the res and lengua.
Despite being advertised as spicy, they are rather mild, but again the tableside salsas will remedy that problem. The surprising highlight is the refried beans - creamier than Jif and nicely seasoned.
A whole tilapia fried to a nice crisp. Considering how affordable this is at $14.99, we wonder about the well-being of fishermen.
Sometimes hominy is like stale popcorn - edible and useful for passing time during long meetings, but still questionable. Here, it’s in a soup with pork so tender it’ll compete with the opening five minutes of Up, which is to say it’s good enough to induce some real feelings.