I find El Chapin
at its usual spot outside Ranch Foods Direct’s market — it’s typically there from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily but for Sundays. Longtime RFD employee Luis Guerra owns it, using RFD beef and pork for his tortas, burritos, quesadillas, and tacos ($2 each). It’s a basket (with limes, radish slices, a grilled jalapeño and half-caramelized onions) of those I seek. I watch my selections of pork stomach (buche), braised pork (carnitas), pineapple-tenderized pork (pastor) and beef stomach (tripe) seared to order; aromas flood the service window. Tender describes all proteins: rich tripe towards the spongier goo side, indulgent buche toward the chewier, carnitas toward the entirely surrendered stew-meat side. Deep, chili- and onion-enhanced flavors sing under cilantro garnish, and the pastor bears the extra treat of tiny, sweet pineapple pieces treated as garnish. These prove top chefs’ claims about great food starting with great ingredients.