Los Jalapeños Café in Alpine hits the spot every time

We recently spent a busy Saturday afternoon running around Alpine for construction supplies and while we were at McCoy’s, Manager Robert Murphy showed me pictures on his phone of a beautiful plate of food he’d recently eaten at a restaurant in El Paso called Anson 11. His plate was colorful with vegetables and seafood… and the shrimp jumped out at me from his phone screen. Just like that, I was desperately hungry for shrimp. I’d never heard of the place, and Robert highly recommended it, so it’s on our list for the next time we head to the big city.

We haven’t been eating out much lately, so when Mr. Johns suggested we stop by an old favorite before heading home to Fort Davis, I was more than ready. And, I knew exactly what I was ordering before we got back in the truck to head over to Los Jalapeños Cafe for dinner.

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We arrived at approximately 5:02 p.m., and they’d just opened for dinner at 5 p.m. Arriving at opening was ideal since there was only one other occupied table in the restaurant. I like beating the crowd.

Los Jalapeños is a family-owned and operated business. Chef Vidal Garcia and his family provide authentic meals, “Comida Mexicana Chihuahuensa.” Every plate is made to order with the freshest ingredients. We’ve eaten at Los Jalapeños more times than I can count, and have never once been disappointed by a meal. Even the cheeseburgers were fantastic.

Food does take some time to come out of the kitchen, but the complimentary chips and delicious green salsa always soothe my hunger pangs. Get an order of fresh, green guacamole as an appetizer if you need something more substantial while you wait.

Mmmmmm... salsa!

We both ordered our “usual”… he ordered the Enmoladas, a plate of chicken tacos smothered in mole sauce, beans rice and a beautiful layer of lettuce, tomatoes and radishes topping the tacos. You can’t really pick up those tacos to eat them, but need to eat them with a knife and fork.

Enmoladas - chicken tacos with mole sauce.

I briefly debated between Cochinitas (deliciously spicy pork tacos) and shrimp enchiladas that are covered in an amazing, creamy sauce. Of course, shrimp enchiladas won that brief battle – with thanks to Robert Murphy who planted the idea of shrimp in my head a little while earlier.

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We heard the “ding” which we knew meant an order was up and were excited that our food was coming out so quickly. After all, there was only one other early-bird couple in the whole place, and being veterans there, we knew not to expect food quickly.

But alas, it was a to-go order. Another ding, another batch of to-go food. I was really starting to get annoyed with people that called in their orders, with everything smelling so tasty as it passed us on the way to the register. But, we got to eat chips and salsa while we waited, and the phone order people didn’t.

Another ding, and the other couple’s food came out – two Specials of the Day. It looked and smelled so good that we regretted not ordering at least one of the Saturday Specials that had a platter of sizzling beef ribs as a main component, but I wasn’t going to give up my shrimp enchiladas and he probably wasn’t going to give up the mole tacos. The next ding was ours.

I make meals with shrimp more often than mole. Mole sauces usually have more than 20 ingredients and are flavored from bittersweet to spicy, and the consistency can be thin or thick. They are typically brown and taste of chile peppers and chocolate.

The last time I made homemade mole, it got two thumbs up from my toughest food critic. Mole is time consuming, but well-worth the effort.

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Next time we go to Los Jalapeños, I’ll probably be nice and forego shrimp in favor of the Special of the Day, so he can have his mole and eat some of the special, too.

Los Jalapeños Café is located at 200 W. Murphy Street in Alpine. They are open every day except for Monday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. They accept cash and credit cards.

 

Homemade Mole Sauce

5 Pasilla, Ancho or Guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

5-1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate, chopped (I used bittersweet chocolate)

1-3/4 cups chicken broth

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 corn tortillas, torn to pieces

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

To make the mole sauce, soak the chiles in 1-1/4 cups water for 15 minutes. Drain well and discard the soaking liquid.

Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. In a blender, combine chiles, chocolate, chicken broth, peanut butter, sugar, oregano and tostadas and blend until very smooth. Transfer the sauce to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. Add to your favorite roasted chicken, use it in place of your favorite red or green enchilada sauce, enjoy it with mashed potatoes or rice.

Printed with permission of the Alpine Avalanche

 

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