Behind the scenes of La Tejana's taco game (and the off-menu dish you need to know)
On North Lindbergh Boulevard, at the intersection of Bridgeton and St. Ann, is La Tejana Taqueria, a quiet, homey restaurant that’s part of a small complex that also includes grocery store La Tienda and the Carniceria, a butcher shop. All three are owned by Brenda and Antonio Garcia, who have been serving up authentic tacos and house-prepared meats since 2008. We caught up with Brenda to learn more about their fabulous taco program.
What’s your best-selling taco?
“I would say al pastor. My husband says steak [laughs]. The cow head [cabeza] is also a customer favorite.”
Do you have a personal favorite?
“The tinga [shredded chicken] is my favorite, but it’s my favorite on a tostada. The reason is that you have the tostada and the beans, there’s a hot and cold contrast with the lettuce and cheese, and then the chicken. I always tell people to get it like that.”
Do the tacos come on corn or flour tortillas?
“All are on corn except for our fish taco.”
How do you make the chorizo taco?
“Since we have a butcher shop, we actually make our own chorizo, and that’s the key thing. We usually case the chorizo, but for the restaurant we don’t. It’s just basically frying it and preparing it on the taco.”
You have a few different salsas. Can you talk about those?
“The one that comes with the chips, we call the gringo sauce because it’s not really spicy [laughs]. I think a misconception about our green salsa is that it has tomatillos in it, but it’s a jalapeno-based salsa, a mixture of different types of peppers. The cool thing about the red salsa is dried chile de arbol; what makes it flavorful is that it’s toasted or burnt. The red one is extremely hot. It’s too crazy for me.”
And you make them daily?
“Yes, and all of us know how to make the salsa. I can always tell which cook made the salsa. All of our cooks have been with us since we opened, and we know their cooking style, so I can say, ‘OK, so-and-so made this today.’”
What would you recommend to people who are coming in for the first time?
“You should always order the tacos. You can order five or six and you can try all of the meats. I think that’s the best way to try our restaurant. Try everything! Some people don’t want the tongue [lengua] taco, but I just bring out the platter and don’t even tell them. And then they love it. That’s how authentic we are – we have cow head, the tongue, goat and the tripa [tripe].”
What else should people know about La Tejana?
“I hate it when someone comes in and asks for ground beef [laughs]. I tell people this is not Taco Bell.”
La Tejana Taqueria, 3149 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Ann, 314.291.8500, latejanastl.com
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