Mark Jiménez didn’t think he’d ever get back into the family business. The Jiménez name has carried weight in Lubbock since 1969, when Mark’s immigrant grandfather, Lucio Jiménez, established a panadería there. By 1994, Mark’s mother opened her own spot, Jiménez Burrito Express and Bakery, across from the Texas Tech University football stadium. The restaurant was bought out in April 2003, and Mark wasn’t interested in relocating. He had other priorities. 

“Being that I had a newborn, I went the safe route,” he said. “I went with a job that had a career and had financial security and all the good stuff that comes with that so I could provide for my child.”

With one child grown, another about to graduate from high school, and a divorce behind him, Jiménez; his mother, Maria Flores; and his half brother, Michael Flores, saw an opportunity to open another business. “My mother and I always had that itch to get back into it,” Jiménez explained. “And so everything just seemed to come to perfect timing back in 2021.”

They set out to look for a brick-and-mortar for another burrito shop, and in November 2021, Jiménez learned about Gigi’s Tortilleria. The owner had been open for one week when a family emergency forced her to shut down. It was a turnkey location with all the equipment needed to get up and running, including a corn tortilla–making machine. However, as Jiménez tells it, the space wasn’t suited for burritos, so the family shifted toward tacos. Jiménez Tortilleria y Taqueria opened on February 21, 2022. 

Earlier this month, I was sitting in one of the takeout business’s few chairs waiting for my order when Jiménez picked up the phone. “Carlos usually gets the carne guisada,” he explained to a customer calling in an order. The woman was having difficulty deciding which tacos to choose. Meanwhile, the line of customers was growing. If Jiménez was frustrated with the indecisive patron, he wasn’t showing it. Instead, he was giving her the same attention he gives to every customer, whether they are regulars or first-timers like me. 

The brisket taco.
The brisket taco. Photograph by José R. Ralat
Maria Flores preparing tacos at Jiménez Tortilleria y Taqueria.
Maria Flores preparing tacos at Jiménez Tortilleria y Taqueria. Photograph by José R. Ralat

This service and hospitality is a hallmark of the Jiménez family. Mark works the counter while Maria runs the kitchen, spooning ladles of guisados into tortillas nested in clamshell containers.

That’s how they were served to me. I ordered a customized Three Amigo platter, which is composed of three tacos—normally asado de puerco, carne guisada, and picadillo—chips, and salsa. I opted for asado de puerco, barbacoa, and chile verde tacos, the latter two being weekend specials. All are tacos de guisados, an unruly (and my favorite) category of stewed, slow-cooked fillings normally eaten between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. across Mexico, especially Mexico City.

The chile verde—shredded pork and cubed potatoes in a nose-tickling spicy sauce—proved too much for the double layer of corn tortillas. They tore open as I tried to pick up the taco. Maybe it was because the tortillas are made with Maseca. A couple of nixtamal tortillas might have had the tensile strength—with added rice to soak up some liquid—to support the peppy guiso with a fantastic sweet aftertaste. Surprisingly, although they’re made from Maseca, Jiménez’s tortillas don’t have the characteristic sugar or metallic punch. Rather, they have a slight corn flavor that skews almost neutral. Luckily, the tortillas held up better against the lean threads of beef barbacoa and the soft, vermillion chunks of pork in the earthy asado.

I returned the next day for two specialty breakfast tacos—the Drunken taco and the Cochino taco—and a barbecue beef rib taco, a limited Sunday special. Michael, who’s worked at Hill Barbecue, smokes the rib over pecan. The offset smoker, borrowed from Evie Mae’s, sits to one side of the small parking lot and is also used for Michael’s pop-up, Friends Barbecue. All three tacos were gloriously gluttonous. The beef rib sits on two tortillas and a pool of chile con queso, with a fried egg on top. The rib was light on smoke (which I prefer), and the rest of the taco was a delightful mess, leading me to reach for a fork and knife. Employing utensils to consume a taco might seem sacrilegious, but it was necessary in this case, as it also is when eating tacos ahogados and tacos acorazados. 

The Drunken taco and the Cochino taco also come topped with a fried egg. Scrambled eggs aren’t an option at all. That’s something Jiménez prides himself on. “It has a lot to do with some ego on my part,” he says. Jiménez doesn’t see the point of serving the same fillings as other taquerias. “We figured we could push tacos with our flair using our guisados,” he continues. Indeed, the tacos, based on Jiménez’s grandmother’s recipes, are loaded with flair.

The Drunken taco is an assembly of chunky refried beans, snappy bacon, shredded cheese, and a fried egg. The salty, rich taco takes the edge off a night of drinking, which is how it got its name. It’s the dish Jiménez would make for Michael after partying. The Cochino taco is a chile-infused asado de puerco that gets a double dose of cheese: shredded and liquid. 

Asado de puerco and barbacoa tacos are also available on Sunday afternoons at Good Line Beer Co. The partnership began when Michael became a regular at the taproom. “My brother—being my brother—he enjoys the nightlife, and so he makes himself like everybody’s buddy,” Jiménez says. “He became really good friends with [Good Line Beer Co. co-owner Chris Troutman]” last summer, when Troutman and co-owner Shawn Phillips wanted to brew a corn lager, they reached out to Jiménez for tortillas. The brewers tossed whole tortillas into the tank, and the finished beer was called American Football. When it was released, Jiménez and Michael sold tacos alongside the beer. It was a hit. After that, Jiménez tacos became a Sunday fixture. During my visit, Troutman told me Good Line is working on another corn lager to release on Cinco de Mayo. That’s the day after my birthday. So if you can’t find me at home in Dallas, I might just be in Lubbock eating—and drinking—tortillas.

Jiménez Tortilleria y Taqueria
4606 34th, Lubbock
Phone: 806-407-5771
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday 7 a.m.–2 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.–2 p.m.