I was doing my homework for Spanish class and, after learning to conjugate the verb


(to eat), it seemed like an ideal time to order some Mexican food.

Tengo hambre


So, off to 1800 S. 4th St. and Taqueria Los Jalapenos for take-out.

Jaime Tapia has been the owner here for two years. The small restaurant wound up serving mostly take-out, so six months ago he took out the tables and converted the front to a corner store. You can add on some grocery items with your delivery order.

A good appetizer dish for sharing was the Queso Fundido ($6.50). Think a little grilled cheese, a little fondue, all topped off with spicy chorizo sausage. Rip off pieces of tortilla and dig in. The accompanying flour tortillas were light, with just enough chewiness for texture.

The Pico de Gallo Nachos ($4.50) also made my list of favorites. A mound of crispy tortilla chips was covered with beans, cheese, pickled jalapenos and sour cream.

The Gordita ($6.50), a thick, flat cake made with masa harina (corn flour), was fried on a griddle and stuffed with Oaxaca cheese and a choice of beans, chicken or pork. You get three per order and they were generously stuffed, which might make you feel like the literal translation of gordita: "little fat one."

We also tried the Steak Crispy Taco ($6.50). Simplicity is the name of the game, so each individual ingredient here is important. There were three taco shells stuffed with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and thick slices of beef. Best part were the sauces - a fairly mild green sauce that was tart with tomatillos, and a red sauce with a kick from spicy chile de arbol peppers and a smoky note of chipotle pepper.

The Tacos al Pastor ($6) fell short of the pineapple and pork wonders I have developed an addiction to from Los Taquitos de Puebla on 9th Street. Fresh pineapple rather than canned is an absolute must here.

Another sauce hit at Los Jalapenos was the salsa. I have heard a rumor that it regularly inspired thievery at an Italian Market watering hole when a bartender would order a delivery for his break. He would often find this spicy, tart, chunky tomato-cilantro concoction had gone missing, along with the tortilla chips.

I will say, it is good enough to let one's moral compass wander.

There are several sandwiches (tortas) on the menu, so we opted for the Torta Cubana ($7). It was stuffed with beef Milanese, chorizo, ham, eggs and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, jalapeno and avocado. The bread wasn't up to snuff - too much like a bad hoagie roll.

In the platter department, there are nearly 20 choices. We opted for the Chile Relleno ($7.75), a poblano pepper stuffed with queso fresco (fresh cheese), coated in an egg batter, fried and covered in sauce.

Although the beans were a light, creamy delicious mash, the rice was on the dry, flavorless side.

The Chicken Mole Enchilada platter ($7.25) also suffered from dry rice. However, the mole sauce had a pleasant hint of cinnamon. I'm told the secret ingredient is animal crackers.

The Bean Soup ($5) was a little flat. Although, who knows? Perhaps this was a childhood comfort food and it doesn't translate out of context.

Sadly, tres leches cake, a butter cake soaked in three types of milk products, was not available. So, the Sweet Plantains with Condensed Milk ($3) was the next dessert choice. Fried plantain slices are doused in condensed milk, which makes for sweet on sweet. Be warned, there's a banana boatload in this serving so it's a lot even for a sweet tooth like mine.

Service was attentive when I ordered on the spot, and the order was filled quickly. You can peruse the beaded jewelry for sale or run some errands and come back.

Delivery requires certain minimums, but it worked well for a large office lunch order. *