La Herencia Taqueria: One of JC's hidden culinary treasures

Mystery Diner • May 23, 2014 at 9:01 AM

You’d never expect to find a restaurant featuring phenomenal cookery rubbing shoulders with a car wash and a laundromat. I sure didn’t until two of my readers clued me in to a spot I just had to try. La Herencia Taqueria is located at the corner of East Oakland Avenue and Princeton Road in Johnson City. This puts it comfortably just outside the food mega-highway that is North Roan Street, and must be what proprietor Felipe Godinez was looking for when he and his family opened the place last September. La Herencia has just six tables to seat up to 24 hungry patrons in spartan but squeaky-clean surroundings. The menu is located above the front counter and comes with helpful and colorful pictures. Daily specials are conveniently posted on a nearby chalkboard. While specializing in lunch and supper offerings, La Herencia also does breakfast. La Herencia features both Mexican dishes along with Caribbean offerings. The restaurant also makes all their own salsas from fresh ingredients. The smoked chipotle and salsa verde were my favorites during the dine-around bunch’s recent dinner visit..My dining partner was attracted to the Cuban sandwich ($9), one of the dishes that received a glowing recommendation in the email I received. The Dieter chose an order of gringas ($9), a distant relative of the quesadilla. The Carnivore was back in form with his carnitas-filled torta sandwich ($9.50), while I decided upon an order of pozole ($9). While the rest of the family was busy preparing our meals, Godinez let us know that their first location was (and still is) located at the Tri-Cities Flea Market in Bluff City. That location is open only on weekends, and early arrivals get the best selection from the menu. My pozole arrived while we were conversing with Godinez, who advised me on which of the vegetable garnishes supplied with my meal would achieve the tastiest result. My dining partner and the Carnivore were served next, followed by the Dieter, and we all got to share from each others’ plates. The Carnivore’s substantial torta sandwich featured slow-roasted carnitas pork mixed with diced and grilled potato and onions, and topped with chopped lettuce and tomato. It took two hands to pick up, but the Carnivore was up to the task. The Dieter’s gringas featured shredded, marinated pork “al Pastor” with mozzarella cheese and onions folded into a grilled flour tortilla. Sliced spring onions and diced fresh tomato were the toppings, along with a side of sour cream, lettuce and pico di gallo. A big slice of grilled fresh pineapple was included almost as an afterthought. It provided a nice accompaniment to the dish. My partner’s Cuban sandwich had a thick slice of marinated roast pork, layered with several slices of savory smoked “city” ham. A healthy portion of jack cheese was next, garnished with several cold and crunchy dill pickles and a squirt of yellow mustard, then grilled and pressed on an excellent baguette-sized loaf of crusty bread until toasty warm and crunchy. My pozole was the “rojo,” or red variety, of a savory soup of pork shoulder in chunks so thick I’d swear you could still see the cleaver marks. The meat was mixed with fresh hominy in a savory pork broth redolent of smoked paprika, cumin, dried peppers and fresh garlic. The vegetable garnish of onion, avocado, radish, cilantro, julienned cabbage and lime wedge are added when the pozole is served. Proper pozole rojo takes time, at least four hours to prepare and simmer for maximum effect. With each spoonful lifted from the steaming carnelian-hued lake in front of me, I could taste every bit of the time and care that the Godinez family had put into their creation. To ease the spiciness of the peppery broth, I recommend your having a tall glass of horchata standing by. The topper to our meal was sharing a slice of La Herencia’s incomparable flan dessert ($3.50) in both coconut and chocolate varieties. Count your meal here incomplete if you do not finish with flan. Godinez and his family are working hard to make La Herencia Taqueria a success. Stop by and see what success tastes like. La Herencia Taqueria2530 E. Oakland Ave.Johnson City483-3665Daily 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.Available on FacebookCredit cards welcome

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