PHOTO COURTESY FOOD SPOTTING
By: Mayra Monroy
Grand Rapids is home to not only diverse communities, but with that, food. Whether you’re feeling Indian cuisine, Ethiopian goodies, or, in the case of this feature, Mexican food, you’re always in for a treat.
Coming from a traditionally hispanic background and in college, I struggle to find the time (and sometimes the money) to find some real authentic Mexican cuisine. So I’m exploring Grand Rapids to find some of the best Mexican food for you to check out!
950 Bridge St NW, Grand Rapids
El Granjero is a cute family-operated business located on Bridge Street that, though small, packs a punch of flavor in their food.
Tacos ($1.89 – $2.99) : Whether you like flour tortillas or corn (in my humble opinion, corn is the superior), El Granjero has delicacies in both. I tried their corn tortillas with carne asada (steak) and it came with toppings such as tomato, cilantro, and onion. Though I felt the toppings were a bit excessive, the meat was what made the taco whole, bringing a mix of flavors and deliciousness.
Note: You can choose any of these items for your taco – steak, chicken, pork, spicy pork, mexican sausage, ground beef, barbacoa, beef tongue
Tortas ($5.49 – $5.99): Tortas are one of my favorite things to eat, and it translates to being similar to a traditional sub, but even better. For this meal, I had a carne asada torta (steak) and it came with toppings such as avocado, cilantro, tomato, etc. The bread was extra soft and the avocado fresh. The size of the torta was smaller than I expected, but once I unwrapped it, it was stuffed with meat and toppings and in the end was very filling.
At El Granjero, you can build your own torta (one meat and beyond) or get some of their specialty ones, such as the Cuban-style (ham, steak, & beef sausage) or Hawaiian style (steak & pineapple).
Toppings include: lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, mayonnaise, sour cream and avocado.
Chips & Dips: The guacamole at El Granjero was one of my prime choices. It was fresh and mixed with onion, jalapeno peppers, and tomato. This could be its own meal and it’s only $1 for the chips and $1 for the guac!
The salsa was also one of the best I’ve ever had– not too spicy, but delicious nonetheless. It was far from the salsa you expect from Applebee’s or BFRICKINGDUBS. It was heavy with actual chunks of tomato but also with cilantro, onion, and the right amount of sauce. For housemade chips and a cup of this salsa, it’s $1.50, making it a cheap treat but so worth it.
San Jose Taqueria
1338 South Division Avenue, Grand Rapids
Located in a former drive-in style restaurant, San Jose cooks up flavor in small quarters.
Tacos ($2.50-$3.00): The tacos from San Jose Taqueria are absolutely delicious, let’s start with that. The corn tortillas are stuffed with an equal balance of toppings and meat that it makes me wonder if there is some scientific formula for achieving that. If I asked the worker at San Jose that, (s)he might think I’m looking too deep into it.
I tried both a carne asada taco (steak) and a chorizo one (spicy beef) and the toppings (onion and cilantro) were simple enough that it didn’t take away from the flavor, but only maximize it.
Tortas (vary, but anywhere from $6+): ¡Muy, muy delicioso! The tortas from San Jose were great, but lacked more ingredients to make it a memorable meal. The meat was cut very thin, and the lettuce/mayo combo was just too much compared to the rest.
Tacos from San Jose Taqueria – Tortas from El Granjero.