Cheap Bastard

The Summer of La Ventana Love

Follow the Cheap Bastard as she scours the city, looking for a good -- or at least non-lethal -- lunch for less than 10 bucks.

People sitting out on the patio at 1:30 p.m. on a Thursday in August (temp approximately 1 million degrees Fuck-Me-renheit) count: 0 Women dragging children by their ears across the street to The Perot Museum count: 2

This week, Texas finally remembered it's summer. It's like for the whole month of July, Texas thought it was California and it let our plants have rain and cloud-shade and cooler temperatures. I heard Pete Delkus was so confused he sharted for a week. Now we're getting the 100-degree days with 99 percent humidity we deserve. Some people are sad about the heat, because it means that patio lunches are over.

I see it differently. A crowded patio = I have to wait for my food. An empty patio = food delivered to my face in 3.3 seconds. When it's this hot, hit up a taquería with a great patio and you'll never wait in line. Order your food to-go, eat it at home or in your car or in a hooker's hotel room or in a trash can -- ladies' choice.

See also: The Cheap Bastard Goes to Green House Market, Which Is Not a Place for Cheap Bastards

On this particular nut-scorcher of a day, I visited La Ventana, the taquería behind Meso Maya (1611 McKinney Ave.). The patio was perfectly empty when I arrived. I ordered the pastor and barbacoa tacos ($2.29 each), plus elotes ($3) and a Topo Chico ($2.75). I went a little over my $10 budget, but when I see elotes, I splurge.

I regret that elotes splurge. There are certainly better elotes in this town (inside the Meso Maya attached to La Ventana is an immediate option), and for the price of this sad Styrofoam corn cup, I could have ordered another taco.

On my next visit, I'll go back for three pastor tacos. The pastor plus that lovely green avocado crema business they give you in a tiny to-go container? That was worth it. The corn tortillas were even thick enough to hold up to the pastor and sauce without splitting. La Ventana isn't a classic taquería -- it's more of a shiny, clean gateway taquería. A little more expensive and sanitized than your average gas station taquería, and equipped with safe options like chicken tacos and steak burritos. MUCH IMPORTANT: A liquid lunch is possible, as they do offer beer ($4) and margaritas ($5).

If you're planning a trip to the Perot Museum to smell wolf piss and look at dinosaur bones, hit up La Ventana for the perfect pre-museum gut-fill.