El Jalapeno Gives Tacos Juquilita a Run for Its Money

We got a tip recently from Luncher Stephen, who told us that folks at his office were split between two taco spots near the Mexican consulate on 39th St. (btw Park+Madison): the Tacos Juquilita truck and the El Jalapeno cart. We’ve covered the Juquilita truck before, and they make some pretty good tacos, so how does El Jalapeno stack up?

First, let’s talk price. While Juquilita charges $3 per taco, at El Jalapeno they’re only $2.50 each. Even when you factor in the the dollar off Juquilita gives on three-taco orders, you’re still paying less at the cart. But how do they taste?

El Jalapeno wraps its tacos traditionally with two tortillas, which are perfectly heated and tender (compared to Juquilita, whose tortillas I found to be a little rubbery). This might be because they wrap the tacos in paper, which helps keep the heat in. Like Juquilita, each taco is traditionally dressed with cilantro and white onion. Unlike Juquilita, El Jalapeno adds a bit of guacamole to each as well, but doesn’t include lime wedges. I guess you can’t have it all.

I first tried El Jalapeno’s steak taco. The steak was a little chewy and a bit dry, but had excellent flavor. It went especially well with the red salsa that comes with each order. I’m usually not a big fan of steak tacos, which seem kind of boring to me, but this one was a winner.

Next up was chorizo, a personal favorite. Because it’s a sausage, chorizo tends to be greasy, but this taco was plain saturated. The chorizo had a bit of an odd flavor, though, almost like salami. It wasn’t the best chorizo I’ve ever had, and I’d give Juquilita the leg up on this one, but it was still meaty and good, pairing well with tomatillo salsa.

Finally, I tried the carnitas, which is my go-to choice for tacos. It looked good, with long strings of pulled pork, but the flavor just wasn’t there. Carnitas should scream porky goodness, but this was pork was meek and mushy. I had the highest hopes for this taco, but it left me disappointed.

All in all, I found that El Jalapeno compares well to Tacos Juquilita, with Juquilita having a slight advantage. Both make pretty tasty, good-sized tacos for similar, reasonable prices. I’m glad to have both choices around, and will definitely be visiting each again.

El Jalapeno Cart, 39th St. (btw Park + Madison Ave.)


  • Pass on the cemitas. The last time I ordered it, they didn’t have any cheese. The tortas were much better.

    Sopes were great too, but a bit messy. I didn’t get utensils with mine.

    Burritos are huge and come with a deep red sauce that isn’t as spicy as it looks. Get this with anything other than chicharron (they were a bit skimpy with this ingredient)

    Quesadillas were good but nothing to write home about.

    Tacos were as stated above.

    A point worth mentioning: there are long waits at this cart. They do everything to order so just hope you’re first in line.

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