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The Blue & Gray Press | October 23, 2017

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New Twist on Fred’s Old Mexican Favorite

By JESSICA PIKE

Upon entering, the cheerful yellow walls brightened up the gray October day, and the aroma of Mexican cuisine filled the air. I was greeted by a warm and welcoming smile as owner Jose Gonzales invited my friend and I to choose a seat.

As I perused the vast menu, Gonzales explained that as new owners, they have expanded the menu.

“We are really playing with the “Etc” part of our business name,” Gonzales said.

The Soup & Taco, Etc.’s menu includes all of the expected Mexican food traditions, with tacos, burritos, enchiladas, tortilla soup, and quesadillas. The restaurant also served un-traditional dishes, including Gonzales’ favorite, Chicken Chipotle.

This entrée offered a tender piece of chicken soaked in a chipotle butter sauce, topped with feta and mozzarella cheese, served with Spanish rice and beans.

Acknowledging the many vegetarian customers, Gonzales stated that they have “an amazing response for our new vegetarian tacos.”

Known for their mouthwatering authentic Mexican food at reasonable prices, the restaurant underwent new management Aug. 5.

It is now better than ever.

The lunchtime crowd just began to wander in, and the intimate eight-table restaurant was quickly filled with college students, families, and businessmen. This fun and relaxed atmosphere allowed for easy conversation, and put me at ease.

Immediately, I was handed complimentary tortilla chips and nachos. The chips were warm and light, with the nutty taste of corn. The salsa was mild, with finely chopped fresh tomatoes, green peppers, and onions.

Gonzales was our server, and he provided menus as he explained the lunchtime specials in a pleasant, knowledgeable manner.

The specials for the day included one or two tacos with a bowl of soup ($7-8.95) and a steak and cheese burrito with peppers, onions, and tomatoes, served with beans and rice ($7.95).

He also wanted future customers to know that Soup & Taco, Etc. is in the process of applying for its ABC license. Gonzales said he hopes to be able to serve beer and liquor soon.

“I am just proud of what we serve and want people to enjoy it,” Gonzales said.

Listening to Gonzales talk, and observing the satisfied customers that surround me, it was obvious that this Mexican restaurant gave an impressive twist on typical Mexican cuisine.

As I decided on the Chicken Taco with a bowl of tortilla soup, my friend opted for the Chicken Quesadilla, served with guacamole dip, sour cream, and salsa.

Within five minutes, the hot tortilla soup arrived at the table. The zesty, chicken flavored broth was light, and the soup, made with thinly sliced chicken, corn, onions, and avocado, served with a lime and topped with corn tortilla strips, was delicious.

The lunch entrees were promptly served next. The Chicken Taco was mouthwatering, filled with fresh, shredded chicken that was marinated in Worcestershire sauce, fresh vegetables, and a unique reduced fat sour cream called crema.

“I’m full but I want to keep eating it is so good,” my friend stated as she worked on her plate of sizzling chicken quesadillas.

Senior Casey Velasquez, a frequent customer at Soup & Taco, Etc. for the past two and a half years, commented that she loves the new ownership and food options.

“It just has quality Mexican food, that is why I keep going back,” Velasquez said.

Velasquez said the restaurant’s renovations and upgrades have turned Soup & Taco, Etc. into a true dining restaurant.

With room for dessert, Gonzales suggested the helado de fruta. The unique taste of the two large scoops of horchata ice cream had a grainy texture but was refreshing and sweet, withdistinct cinnamon and chocolate flavors.

The bill for two people rang up for under $25, making it a very good deal for frugal college spenders. With its affordable prices, comfortable environment, and friendly, efficient service, a stop at Soup & Taco, Etc. is a must.