Over the past year or so a culinary trend has emerged in Hattiesburg, a number “traditional” Mexican restaurants have started popping up and others have began to add traditional and regional items to their menus. There's a cookie-cutter Tex-Mex joint on just about every corner in Hattiesburg and some of them do a really good job, and some are akin to the Old El Paso dinner in a box you can get at the grocery store.
A few weeks ago I noticed a new establishment on the Hwy 42 by-pass, - El Taco Brown. I'll be the first to admit that it's not the most appetizing name, but don't judge this place by the sign.
It was late afternoon when we stopped by for a few tacos. The place is small, but newly renovated, clean and well kept. Big flat screen TV's on the wall, but unless you're into soccer or speak Spanish they're pretty much useless.
We were given menus and were brought some whole tortillas for dipping in a bean sauce. I was pleased to find that the menu was not the run of the mill Tex-Mex fare, it was chocked with traditional dishes from various regions around Mexico.
We each decided on the three-taco plate, which gives several choices. I selected one Taco Lengua, one Taco Barbacoa and one Taco Chorizo.
I'm just becoming familiar with authentic Mexican fare, so I am going to assume that some of our readers may not know what some of these dishes are, so I'll break them down for everyone.
All three taco were served on soft corn tortillas. They were dressed quite simply with raw onions, a little tomato, fresh chopped cilantro and each had a slice of lime to squeeze over the tacos. They also brought three different chili sauces to the table each with slightly different flavors and consistencies.
Chorizo is a type of pork sausage that traces all the way back to Spain and Portugal, it's commonly served as a breakfast food in Mexico, but is also used in tacos, burritos and other regional fare. The Chorizo at El Taco Brown was quite spicy and full of flavor, the lime was a perfect compliment for the dish.
The Barbacoa is a traditional way of preparing beef, a particular cut of beef. It's the tender beef from a slow cooked cow's head. This is fare indigenous to northern Mexico, and the slow cooking was often prepared in a pit.
The Barbacoa at El Taco Brown was very good, tender, slow cooked beef seasoned to perfection with local chilies, spices, garlic and onions. I enjoyed this unique dish with a nice helping of the spicy chili sauce provided with the meal. This was my favorite of the three tacos.
The most unusual of the three tacos was the Lengua. No way to really sugar coat this one, Lengua is beef tongue. Before my visit to El Taco Brown I had never eaten beef tongue. Just about every culture around the world has a use for this often overlooked part of a cow. But, some how I had manged to miss it until now.
The Lengua was coarsely chopped into about ¼” cubes and slow cooked with onions, chilies and garlic. This is one of the most unique dishes I've ever enjoyed, the flavor and taste with the fresh onions, tomatoes, cilantro and lime was tasty, but I'll be honest the texture is pretty funky and is not for the faint of heart.
If you're interested in traditional Mexican fare and are interested in trying something a little different El Taco Brown would be a great place to get your feet wet. But, at the same time they have plenty of items on the menu that are not nearly as adventurous.
- ample parking
- ADA accessible with free standing tables
- Happy Hour