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Taquería Los Charros
Robert Scheer

Macho Meals: Appetites are taken seriously at Taquería Los Charros.

A budget diner's haven already, downtown Mountain View scores with another winner

By Andrew X. Pham

I BIT INTO a red serrano chile and a hotness blossomed behind my teeth like a desert rose. A fragrant wildfire raced across my tongue and soon flared into a conflagration engulfing the cavern of my mouth and throat. An invisible sun rose suddenly and torched my face. Sweat streaking down my forehead, I frantically flagged Javier Sepulveda, the co-proprietor, for another Corona, but he was preoccupied by a friendly female patron, who seemed rather taken by his big arms, barrel chest and 28-year-old Latin eyes.

The hot pepper was my idea. Spurred by a dare wickedly laid out by Trudy, my dining companion, I'd told Javier, "Gimme the hottest stuff ya got." And he did.

Watching me draining the beer in one desperate pull, Javier casually bragged, "I ate two of those with my burrito today." To which I conceded, "OK, you're more macho."

This was true particularly because it took a lot of hard work and machismo to open a taquería in downtown Mountain View within hailing distance of two very established Mexican restaurants. Taquería Los Charros is owned and run by the Sepulveda brothers with the help of their nephews, most of whom have slaved at the family restaurant in San Mateo. The diner is a clean and fetching little cove, whitewashed and decked with breakfast counters and a few trappings from Mexico.

This is the place for authentic bargain taquería fare. The $3 tamale plate, available with chicken or pork, can't be beat--especially when all patrons are greeted with a basket of chips and two salsas: a spirited, picante red-chile sauce customized with corn and scallion, and a fresh salsa Mexicana composed of onion, lime juice, cilantro and tomatoes.

Sided with beans and fluffy rice, our tamale was a sizable meal of lard-rich cornmeal and shredded chicken bathed in a tomato-onion-garlic sauce. We also admired the quality the kitchen was able to stuff into a $5.50 pair of chiles rellenos. Smothered under a melted blanket of Monterey Jack cheese, two pasilla peppers swelled with a light batter of eggs and flour.

On another occasion we had two beef entrées, carne asada ($6) and fajitas ($6.50). Portions on both dishes were generous. One item we certainly would return for is the meat quesadilla ($2). There must have been a fistful of chopped flank steak between the 6-inch tortillas, grilled to perfection along with gooey Monterey Jack.

Taquería Los Charros, 854 W. Dana St., Mountain View (650/969-1464). Open daily from 6am to 10pm, the diner also serves American and Mexican breakfasts.

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From the Dec. 4-10, 1997 issue of Metro.

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