By Mario Pacetti
A couple of weeks back, I had a chance to stop and check out the tacos at Tio Juan’s Fresh Tacos and More in the Evans Corner Store at 2211 B Ryan St. during a quick lunch. I had been in shortly after the venue opened, but I was just grabbing a quick bite, so I didn’t write anything down.
This time, I made sure to take a menu so I could give the place a quick shout out. Juan is the owner, and he was all about making sure I got exactly what I was looking for. You can tell after only a couple of minutes of talking to him that he loves good food and loves talking to all his customers.
I love the little spot he has. He has it decorated so nicely that you enjoy the environment you’re eating in. That goes a long way with a lot of people, myself included.
Now, the first time I went in, I ordered a couple of barbacoa tacos, which I loved very much. Barbacoa isn’t a taco you should eat in your truck, as it tends to be a bit oily (but in a good way; it’s just not good for the center console). Anyway, I wanted to get the barbacoa, since I was sitting down, but to my surprise it wasn’t an option on the lunch menu. Juan was there, so he had them make the tacos for me, which I was very thankful for. But I still didn’t understand why an item that was that good was only advertised on the breakfast menu. At any rate, I got mine, so no complaint from me.
The meat was tender. The tacos were very simple in design; that makes the meats the true highlight of the taco.
I love a simple refried bean and Spanish rice taco, and again, Juan’s does not disappoint. I know for a fact that my son Mac would tear a plate of those two items up.
I need to get back in to try some of the delicious-smelling fajitas they were making when I was in there.
This is a great little neighborhood food choice. It’s quick to pick up food and go with a drive thru window. And it’s got such a nice little vibe to it that sitting down and eating your tacos with a cold beer is a great choice, too. Go see Juan and his great crew, and I promise you will be thrilled you did.
Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp
Recently, my United Rentals rep Emily Marcantel invited me to lunch. She picked Tia Juanita’s Fish Camp at 723 Ryan St. Since I hadn’t been there in over a year, I was eager to eat some fish tacos.
I really love the fun way in which they’d decorated the spot. They had made the absolute best use of the space available. Its original layout wasted a lot of good open space. But in the venue’s latest incarnation, the owners really got the best bang for their buck in the design.
First off, I would put their salsa against that of any place in town. It has a bold flavor with just a hint of spiciness on the backside of the bite. A great salsa makes it easy to wait for your food; you never put the chips down while you wait.
Chelsea and I decided to split the Trio of Tacos, which consisted of the fish, shrimp (sassy) and beef tacos. All three tacos were good. I was unaware the sassy shrimp was a thing. But Emily had had them before; she asked the waitress if we could get them. They were kind of sassy with the spice, but not to the point that I couldn’t enjoy them.
The other item we got was the Ahi fish salad. It’s a nice-looking salad. The fish is cooked a perfect mid-rare. I felt the salad was missing something to really set it off, but I couldn’t figure out what that should have been. I generally like things with a little more pop to them. I love being wowed by my food. Chelsea liked it, but did agree about there being something missing.
I would give our meal an 8.5 out of 10. I will be back, as there are many more items to choose from. And I just like the spot.
This year, we’re going to be checking out all the brunches in Lake Charles. It’s crazy to think that seven years ago, the only place downtown to even attempt a brunch was with us at The Fat Cat — even when we were told people won’t come downtown on a Sunday. Now, there are at least three downtown venues that do it.
Luna Bar and Grill has been voted Best Brunch, so that will be my next brunch to try. And then I’ll head to Pujo Street, then south across the city until I reach Nina P’s.