Jacalito Taqueria Mexicana is is a closely guarded secret by neighborhood locals.
Named for the little thatch-roofed adobe shacks found in the Michoacan region of Mexico, this urban taco shack, with a cramped indoor space and high top tables outside, is where Mexicans come for a taste of home.
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Owner Walter Picón is from Coban in northern Guatemala. After studying law, he came to Miami and worked his way up from dishwasher to training corporate chefs at the Cheesecake Factory. He opened this place eight years ago with a another location nearby.
Start With These Dishes
In the morning come for huevos rancheros or scrambled eggs with ham and tortillas. Every table gets a complimentary small bowl of chips and medium-hot salsa made with tomato and arbol chiles. You’ll want refills with the spicier salsa verde made from a puree of jalapeño, habanero and Serrano chiles, which is good on everything. Get an order of guacamole with pico de gallo and chips.
Gorditas are thick masa dough pockets that are fried and stuffed with refried beans and shredded chicken or beef, topped with grated cotija cheese. There’s also queso fundido, gooey melted cheese in a small cast iron skillet with crumbled Mexican sausage and flour tortillas.
Share These Dishes
Don’t let the name dissuade you — order the chicken or beef “a la basura.” Chicken or beef chunks with bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and guajillo chile sauce are placed on a cheese-covered flour tortilla, wrapped in a plantain leaf and steamed into a hot mess of goodness.
Get a few orders of costillas asadas, grilled beef ribs with rice and beans, pico de gallo and guacamole. Many Indian customers are regulars so there’s enchiladas India. These are spicy tortillas stuffed with melted cheese and jalapeño, smothered in salsa verde.
A small group should order lots of tacos. Try fillings of pork carnitas or Yucatan-style pork pibil, marinated in spices with achiote for a golden tint and earthy flavor. There’s also barbecued lamb, lengua (beef tongue) and al pastor. This is pork grilled on a vertical spit with pineapple. The juices from the fruit contain the enzyme bromelain, which helps tenderize the meat. Vegetarian options come with mushrooms, zucchini, peppers and onions.
A daily special is often Mexican poké, small cooked shrimp in citrus juice with pineapple, guacamole and lettuce, topped with pickled red onions.
Save Room For Dessert
Get the homemade rice pudding, creamy, not too sweet, and dusted in cinnamon.
Contact Linda Bladholm at email@example.com. Hidden Gems highlights out-of-the-way restaurants in Miami-Dade County. It is not intended to be an anonymous, critical review.
Jacalito Taqueria Mexicana
Address: 3622 West Flagler, Miami (East Coral Gables)
Contact: 305-443-1336. jacalitomexicanrestaurant.com
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
Prices: Breakfast $6-$11, appetizers $9-$10, tacos $3-$17, entrees $11-$18, desserts $2-$4
F.Y. I. Happy hour Monday-Friday 3 p.m.-7 p.m., free parking, a second location is at 33 NW 27th Avenue with the same menu