The Facebook page for La Antojeria Jalisco, a stall located inside the Long Street Bazaar, lists it as Tex-Mex. That is not the case! Here you will find “Mex-Mex,” or as owners Jalil Saldana and his wife, Yessica Saldana, call it, “street Mex” — giving many patrons to the bazaar a real taste of home.
It’s the kind of food they grew up eating from street vendors in the state of Jalisco.
The Meacham-area bazaar is a ghost town during the day, when we chose to visit. The bazaar isn’t even open Monday through Wednesday. We nearly had the whole place to ourselves on a recent Friday afternoon. But it’s a different story on bustling Thursday and Friday nights, and on Saturday and Sunday, when the narrow hallways and stalls are jam-packed with shoppers in search of everything from electronics and apparel to tattoos and haircuts.
The Saldanas took up residence in the food court area a little over a year ago, moving from their Pearl Street address to take advantage of the busy Long Street Bazaar location.
One of the house specialties is torta ahogada, which translates to a “drowned” sub sandwich. It is an apt description because the sandwich is served partially submerged in a deliciously mild and tangy tomato sauce featuring fresh oregano. Another spicy red sauce is served on the side.
It’s the definition of a hot mess (but in the most positive way). And, although variations of torta ahogada can be found throughout Mexico, it is a specialty of the Jalisco region. Saldana only knows of two others being served in Northside.
Filled with diced grilled pork, which added a fatty and chewy texture to the dish, and the hoagie roll soaking in its sauce, I asked how this fork-and-knife sandwich could possibly be served as street food. Jalil Saldana explained that they spoon the sauce into a bag and add the sandwich to it, so the torta can be enjoyed as a hand-held item. Lean over if you eat it this way . . . way over.
The hamburgesa mariachi ($8.95) tweaks a classic hamburger with house-made chorizo sausage, bacon, avocado and ham. There is also an interesting shrimp burger — hamburgesa Vallarta (also $8.95). This unique spin on the anticipated standard is not a ground and formed shrimp patty either— the bun is just filled with eight or nine whole grilled shrimp, melted cheese, lettuce and tomato.
A dish called alambre ($9.45) is served like four open-faced tacos. It’s described as a “kabob replica without the skewer,” topped with beef fajita meat, more chorizo, bacon, onion, bell pepper, melted cheese, and slices of fresh avocado.
We also tried the birria en su consome ($10.95). Three grilled two-ply corn tortilla tacos filled with pulled beef and accompanied by the star attraction, a bowl of pulled beef broth soup. A glistening ring of bright red chile oil circling the bowl struck fear in our hearts, but it was actually very mild and only there to provide a touch of spice. If you prefer your meal spicy, however, Saldana can accommodate you. Just ask and he will happily dial up the heat. Birria stews filled with goat or beef are a common accompaniment in Jalisco cuisine.
Squeeze bottles of jalapeño crema and spicy red sauce are set before you, and both are welcome additions to many menu items. While this is a sit-down dining room, it is also open to the whirlwind of the bazaar, and to the kiddie-arcade in the space next door, so don’t expect a relaxing, quiet meal. And, it’s a small, family affair, with Saldana and his mother working the entire place. Food comes out as it is cooked, and tables are not bussed in-between courses. So lower your service expectations to a reasonable level.
Raspados (also known as scrapes or, more commonly, as snow cones) will return for the hot summer months beginning in June. The shaved ice ($4) is topped with a variety of all-natural fruit blends, just like you would find from street vendors in Jalisco. Traditional flavors include: coco, guava, cajeta, tamarindo, kiwi, strawberry, mango and pineapple.
Another dessert offering is the pan de elote ($3.50), a dense corn sheet cake with plenty of fresh sweet corn in the batter. This cake is a little bland and is neither frosted nor iced.
Save room, however, for the ginormous cona primavera crepe (5.95) and bring along a friend, because it’s a meal in itself. The magnificent and tender crepe has nothing to do with Jalisco street fare. It’s more the kind of thing you would find in a Parisian café — vanilla ice cream and thinly sliced fresh strawberries and bananas inside a cone-shaped crepe, draped in rich chocolate sauce.
My lunch date was my father on the Friday afternoon we stopped in. He swore he was stuffed…couldn’t eat another bite, when I placed our dessert order. But his eyes lit up at the prospect of that filled crepe and his fork kept a steady pace until the plate was empty. Be warned.
La Antojeria Jalisco
- 318 E. Long Ave. (located inside Long Street Bazaar)
- Fort Worth
- Hours: 11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday