Finding worldly bites for $12 & under.
Beef brains, when cooked right, are creamy, like soft custard. I couldn’t have told you this before I visited Jarochita #2, a no-frills Mexican joint in Arlington (the original Jarochita is in Manassas).
The sesos taco ($2.95) is simply that—slow-cooked beef brains, pale white and curd-like, wrapped in a double layer of homemade corn tortillas. If you can wrap your head (pun intended) around the idea of eating a brain taco, you’re in for a treat. The brain, while mild and slightly gelatinous, readily takes on the flavor of the garnishes: a heaping serving of cilantro, spicy tomato and pickled chile salsa, onions and sliced radishes.
But sesos shouldn’t be the only reason to visit Jarochita #2. Fifteen different kinds of tacos are listed on the menu and the other exotic offerings include cabeza (head), buche (pork stomach), tripa (tripe), lengua (beef tongue) and cueritos (pigskins).
While I haven’t tried them all, the lengua, slow cooked and chunky, is hearty and mildly spiced, and the cabeza is satisfyingly tender, albeit stringier, akin to a slow-cooked beef stew.
For a more conventional route, don’t miss the al pastor (Mexican-style pork; $2.50). Jarochita #2 marinates the al pastor in pineapple and chiles and then, true to street-food style, spit-roasts it on a giant turning vertical skewer (similar to doner kebab or shawarma). Chunks of pineapple cascade off the spit as the pork is shaved to order, and the result is a pile of crisp, juicy pork melded with caramelized pineapple. It is a truly magical bite. / Jarochita #2, 85 N. Glebe Road, Arlington; 703-528-2789
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