TWIN FALLS — After writing about Juanita’s Tacos and More back in February, reader Angela Chapin messaged me on Facebook to ask if I had ever tried Jarrito’s Mexican Restaurant, 565 Washington St. N.
It was on her list of Mexican food she wanted to try in Twin Falls.
“I haven’t tried it yet, because I am also picky about my Mexican food,” she told me, referencing my Juanita’s story in which I outed myself as a Mexican food snob.
I try not to be too snobby, but having eaten good, authentic, homemade Mexican food, it’s hard to accept mediocrity.
I told Chapin I was in the same position as her: I’d been meaning to try Jarrito’s for a while, but had yet to get around to it. My wife even bought an online coupon deal more than a year ago, but it expired before we ever went.
Chapin and I left the conversation at that, but late last month, she messaged me again. She had dined at Jarrito’s and shared with me a great review that finally pushed me to try the place.
With Angela’s permission, I’m printing her (lightly edited) review, and my own.
Our consensus? Jarrito’s is terrific, and anyone looking for a delicious, home-style Mexican meal should try it out.
‘The flavor had depth’
Chapin: Finally tried Jarrito’s Mexican Restaurant on Washington Street North. We were a party of four — my in-laws were treating me to dinner for my birthday.
I loved that there was plenty of parking and the restaurant was so clean. The server was a young woman and seemed shy, and the food took a bit to arrive.
We had homemade tortilla chips and salsa (so-so) and refried beans (made with love, because the flavor had depth) to nibble on while we waited.
When the food did arrive with the green blended salsa and the roasted blended salsa: Wow.
The rice was so fluffy and flavorful — it reminded us of paella rice. Again, the refried beans made me want to lick the plate! The tacos we had — fresh tortillas — so much better than my homemade ones. The meat was beautifully seasoned, but not hiding behind seasoning. My husband’s burrito was huge and the green sauce on it was rich and delicious.
The salsas reminded me of my mom’s blended salsas — still warm from the stove — and took me back to my childhood.
On the way out, we noticed that Jarrito’s opens at 7 a.m.; we will be going back again soon to see what they offer so early.
Like eating at abuela’s
Riggins: Angela Chapin was right. The beans here are excellent, flavorful and made lovingly by owner Jovita Ocampo, a sweet abuelita who treats her customers like her nine grandchildren.
Before she knew I was reviewing her restaurant, she came to our table to ensure our visit was going well and shower affection on my 3-month-old son.
Later, after sharing with her the reason for my visit, Ocampo gave me two big hugs. This story, she said, could be the blessing from God she’s been praying for. Jarrito’s, which Ocampo opened about two years ago, is on the brink of closing because business has been slow. She’s finding it hard to compete against established Mexican restaurants that have been in town much longer.
If Jarrito’s closes, it will be a huge loss for Mexican-food lovers in the Magic Valley, because the food is outstanding.
My wife ordered the carne asada — a thin grilled steak — that came with beans, rice, avocado and tortillas; she chose flour over corn. She reported her food was just as flavorful and authentic as the food she’s had while travelling with her mother in Mexico.
I ordered the alambre, a dish not unlike fajitas, made with grilled beef sautéed with onions and green peppers. The key difference between alambre and fajitas, though, is the cheese. Jarrito’s adds cheese and sour cream to the meat and vegetables that melts and binds it all together.
I had only ever tried alambre at my wife’s family reunions in San Diego — we call it Mexican pizza — and the alambre at Jarrito’s reminded me of home. It was outstanding by itself and even better when loaded into both corn and flour tortillas. It also came with more of Ocampo’s delicious beans and rice.
I also tried a carnitas taco, just to test it out. The pork was moist and flavorful and paired great with the green salsa. My only wish is that it would have come with guacamole, but that’s not just a Jarrito’s problem. I’ve yet to find a Mexican restaurant in the Magic Valley that serves street tacos with guacamole, the way I grew up eating them in San Diego and Tijuana.
If the reviews by Chapin and I aren’t enough to convince you Jarrito’s is serving up authentic, home-style Mexican food, then consider this: When I stopped in for lunch Thursday, there were patrons eating at three other tables. All were Spanish-speaking Hispanic families.
That’s not always a tell-tale sign of authentic Mexican food, but it certainly was at Jarrito’s.