The Food Column: An Ode to Jesse’s Tacos


Oh, tacos, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: carnitias, al pastor, lengua, carne asada, in no particular order. I just love me some tacos—always have, always will. Tacos seem to be the new “it” thing and everyone is making their own version of them, from vegan to Korean, Vietnamese to Middle Eastern, breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, they are everywhere—from $1.25 to $9. It’s truly an amazing time to be eating tacos. 

As much as my husband Jeff and I enjoy trying all these new-fangled fancy flavors, I still fall back to the old school, tried and true homestyle traditional humble taco. That’s why I’m a Jesse’s El Taco de Mexico sort of gal. Just a quick drive to Oxnard gets you delicious carnitias, al pastor, lengua, asada, potato, cabeza and more. Of course, they serve massive burritos, tortas, sopes, nachos and other stuff, all of which I highly recommend.

To me, eating at Jesse’s is like coming home.

No matter what other joints we eat at or what kind of tacos we have, I’ll always compare them to Jesse’s tacos, and while what we are eating at the time may be crazy good, it will never be better than Jesse’s.  

Jesse’s is a small, causal place, just a counter and two booths. The regulars are surfers, fisherman, construction workers and mechanics, and at night families and nightclub-goers. 

If they are cooking, you can smell the asada from down the street and you’ll know you’re at the right place. Park somewhere nearby and walk over. Don’t be put off by the people milling around or waiting to order, just get in line and order, ask for a plate for the cucumber, radishes and limes, get some of their massively spicy (for me, at least) green salsa and sit at the counter. Their tacos are the perfect size, between two and three bites (depending on the size of your mouth and how hungry you are). I usually order four, but sometimes lose my head and order six, then wonder what I was thinking and how I’m going to finish them all… as I finish the last one. 

My faves are al pastor—rich, spicy and sweet, to me, they are perfect—the carnitias are deliciously dry even a little crispy, with mild green salsa, they are heavenly—the lengua is super meaty, with lean and fatty parts, so tender it melts in your mouth. My poor vegan husband Jeff can have some chips and salsa there(lol), but as he is a good husband, said he enjoys watching me enjoy myself enjoying my tacos. 

Jesse’s El Taco de Mexico is at 112 W. 7th St, in Oxnard,  open 7 a.m.-11 p.m., with menudo available weekends only. Jesse, the man himself, is there most days, taking orders and talking to folks, so if you see him, say hi! Oh, and if they happen to have the chile verde burrito, get it. You won’t be sorry.