Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jonesy's Taco House

Restaurant: Jonesy's Taco House
Address: 1502 S. 60th St
Genres: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Check Constraints: Handwritten checks.
Chain: No. | More Omaha Locations: No.

  • Iced Tea ($1.50)
  • Texas Toothpicks ($4.50)
  • #5, Chili con Carne Soup & Tamale ($8.75)
  • Chicken Taco ($2.75)
One of many reasons I wanted to start this blog was to chronicle my adventures in tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, of which I am usually a fan. Unfortunately, the first pick for today's restaurant was so hole-in-the-wall we couldn't actually find the place. That turned out fine, though, as we got a chance to visit someplace I'd only been once before, and Jonesy's Taco House is fairly darn hole-in-the-wall. Its location doesn't get it much car traffic, less foot traffic, and I'm certain that part of its survival lies in the fact that some of UNO's dorms are mere blocks away. It's good food, though. Like a lot of smaller places, it sacrifices ambiance for taste, and it receives a large return on that sacrifice. Really large - the portions are ginormous, and I ordered far more food than I should have.

The Texas Toothpicks were fairly standard appetizer fare; deep fried onion and jalapeño strips, with little or no heat and not much to recommend it against the strength of the other appetizers, which ND will get to eventually. The taco was served in a deep-fried flour tortilla, but since I had gotten the taco on the side, the juice of the chicken had made pulp of the bottom of the tortilla by the time I got to it. For all that, it was good tasting, if without even a hint of heat. In that way, Jonesy's is probably closer to actual Mexican cuisine and farther away from the tex-mex that many of us know and love. Their salsa might as well be tomato-tinged water, and in fact nothing I ate today had even a hint of spice without adding jalapeños...

... except the chili con carne. Oh, man, the chili con carne. The tamale served with it was good, but the soup itself made the meal. The ingredients list probably reads something like: steak bits, tomato base, chili flakes, chili powder, cumin, and salt. And that's about it, really. There's nothing solid in the soup but the beef, but that's all it needed. It was fantastic, and it had a serious heat to it which just barely made the top of my head sweat. (If you're curious, that's how I know there's adequate spice in my food). If you need to cut the heat some, or if you like soups with more solidity to them, you can add some of the rice it's served with to it. Either way, I heartily recommend it.

There was a bit of a billing mix-up due to the hand-writing of the bill, but Jonesy's is a solid choice for a lunch. I just can't go there again until I've digested this meal; the next visit's penciled in for July.

  • Taco Burger ($2.50)
  • Beef Taco ($2.50)
  • Side of Rice ($1.25)
At $2.50 a taco, I expected some bigger portions, but I was still surprised by what we got. I liked the atmosphere of the place (almost like a small diner) and the staff was very friendly. The place itself is fairly hidden within some neighborhoods.

The chips and dip were decent. I liked the bean stuff a lot better than the cheese stuff. This may be because my wife and I had made some Velveeta dip at home around Christmas time, and we sorta overdosed on it. The fried jalapeño/onion stuff was good, but not spicy.

The taco burger is just what they said it would be: Taco guts transplanted onto a hamburger bun. It was an interesting way to eat a taco, and there was way more filling than would fit inside the actual bun. The actual taco was good. It came in a fried flour tortilla and was jam-packed with filling. I actually think there was more meat in the real taco than on the taco burger. They were light on tomatoes, which is fine with me because I'm not a fan of tomatoes. They could have used some hot-sauce or salsa, but the stuff on the table was pretty close to water. I'd say tomato-water, but I couldn't really taste anything. The rice was a little bland as well, but not bad. It had some tougher bits in it that kept getting stuck on my teeth. Not to say that it was bad, but it surprised me a bit now and then. Still, the flavor of all of it was good even without the spiciness I had expected.

  • Iced Tea ($1.50)
  • Root Beer Float (Large, $2.95)
  • #4, Taco & 2 Enchiladas (12.95, +.50 for 1 chicken enchilada)
  • Chicken Quesadilla ($3.00)
  • Dips & Chips (5.00 (meat and cheese), 3.50 (bean))
I will never underestimate the portions of mexican food again. I will never underestimate the portions of mexican food again. I will never underestimate the portions of mexican food again.

If that seems like an awful lot of food, that's because it is. Right up front, the iced tea had a strange aftertaste, one which I associate with taco meat. Nobody else thought it tasted like taco meat, but they did note an aftertaste of some sort. The root beer float was actually "substandard", in that it used soft serve ice cream, but honestly, even a substandard root beer float is still a root beer float. More importantly, the ice cream is dairy, which means that if you ordered the chili con carne and can't handle the heat, like Mecha, you'll want one of these. I tried a bite of his, and it wasn't as damage over time as the Rasta Pasta, but it was at the upper end of my heat level.

The dips and chips are probably what the nearby college students live on. The 3.50 for the bean dip or 5.00 for meat & cheese gets you a good sized basket of chips, your choice of corn or homemade flour, or mixed, and a pretty big bowl of dip, easily enough for all the chips. The bean dip was the better of the two, but when I took the first dip of the meat and cheese, I said "mmm, there's velveeta in that." I'm told that I said it exactly the way that Cham would say "there's cilantro in that". Regardless, I still had plenty of both dips, because they were both worth the money.

That was sort of a problem when the main course hit. The platter it came on was immense, and the taco came in a separate basket. Much like Senor Matias, the enchiladas were nothing but meat, tortilla, and cheese over the top. They were also huge. Immense, even. I finished them, barely, but couldn't even begin on the taco, and it took me all day AND all night to even come close to digesting the meal. Hell, it took me a couple hours before I was even capable of being anything but a somewhat ambulatory digestive tract.

Aside from the tomato water that was in the salsa squeeze bottle, this place was good quality food.


  • Root Beer Float (Large, $2.95)
  • #5, Chili con Carne Soup & Tamale ($8.75)
  • Large Beef Burrito ($5.00)
Assume that I got the quantities and prices right for the moment, because I don't have Cham's sheet thing here. The problem with his master writing things down plan.

Appetizer wise, Cham's right on the Texas Toothpicks. Even with my less tolerant heat senses, there was barely any hint of heat in them. They weren't bad, but nothing to recommend them either. They make fine, fine chips, though, whether corn or flour, and the bean dip was really good. The cheese dip is as ND describes, which isn't, you know, amazing, and is Velveeta based, but it's tasty, and I'm pro tasty. That'll really be a theme here.

The chili was advertised as spicy, and was in fact... really spicy. Somewhat shocking! I got the root beer float afterwards (which was okay, although I wish it were real ice cream) to try and blunt the heat, but I couldn't eat the portion that came with the #5. That said, it was still good, not the flavor-killing heat, so highly recommended if you think you can handle it. The #5 also comes with beans and rice, which are both fine. The tamale was so very, very, very cornbready (which I do enjoy), but a bit TOO much cornbread for me. I like it, but... so much of it. The pork flavor wasn't nearly strong enough in comparison.

The burrito was also cheese, meat, and tortilla, and it was decent. Not amazing, but also fine to eat. I also over-ordered, because I wanted to sample things, and I got to do that in spades. It makes me hum the Big O theme, but with meat. Big Meat! Big meat, big meat, big meat... anyway.

Overall, the place does stuff that's solid, cheap, and plentiful. It's not going to knock your socks off, but you'll not regret a visit. Well, unless you eat too much and it causes you to sink to the bottom of an ocean.