Jose Peppers in West Wichita Closes its Doors
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Best in the Wichita Metro Taco Challenge 2022: How does Jose Pepper's rate?

Jose Peppers
11423 E 13th St N, Wichita, KS 67206

By Mike Thayer

Who makes the best tacos in the Wichita Metro?

Traveling around the ICT, I'm sampling the taco offerings from just about any joint that has tacos on the menu.  It doesn't really matter who, I'll be eating tacos from local joints, regional restaurants and the national chains.  To determine a true champion of tacos in the metro, a broad sampling has to be taken in order to measure the best.  I'm on a mission in the name of "taco science" (cough). 

Jose Pepper's
Taco Challenge Bonus: Sampling all the complimentary chips & salsa!

The sudden closure of the Jose Pepper's on the West side of town this date motivated me to hit the East side location for dinner.  I've never eaten at Jose Pepper's before and wanted to check out how good, "eh" or bad they might be.  You have to feel for the employees at the West side location, who showed up for work only to be turned away from a day's pay and bigger picture, without a job.  Employees there were offered spots available at the East side location, but that still left a lot of folks with cash flow concerns.

I entered the East side restaurant around 4pm and was warmly greeted by the hostess.  There were a few patrons here and there, but with only one other customer sitting at the bar, I easily found a spot and parked it on a stool.  I was immediately greeted by Jesse, who took my drink order, a Margarita, it was Happy Hour.  The food menus were already laid out at the bar which I took the time to review.  Before I knew it, Jesse placed the complimentary chips and salsa in front of me.  Ok, I'm already digging this Taco Challenge more than the Burger Challenge, I didn't even consider the complimentary chips and salsa!  Side Note:  Warm, crispy chips with that salty bite and good salsa can be quite addicting.  Seeing the food menu set aside, Jesse took my dinner order, the Carnitas.

Jose Pepper's Menu
A variety of tacos, but no a la carte.

Jose Peppers doesn't offer any kind of "Taco Platter" or a la carte option so you can sample an assortment.  They have Tex-Mex variations of fish, beef and chicken tacos, but nothing in a traditional sense.  The menu forces you to choose a single type of taco, you get two of whatever you choose, served with rice and beans.  This keeps things easy for a high volume kitchen and the restaurant makes more money per plate, rice and beans are cheap.

With my Carnitas order the closest I could get to meet Challenge parameters, I focused on a baseball game and a football talk show while snacking on the chips and salsa.  After killing about half a basket of chips and that first Margarita, my meal arrived.  The plate was super hot, Jesse gave me a heads up as he placed it in front of me, the towel he used to hold it was kind of a tell.  It was a nicely presented plate and Jose Pepper's does a nice job paying homage to the old adage of, "You eat with your eyes first."  The tacos were standing tall in holders which I appreciate as you take a bite and set down, take a bit and set down, the holders make for an easier, slightly less messy eat.  The supporting cast on the plate, the rice and beans looked inviting, complimented by a small side of lettuce and tomato to use as you please.

Jose Pepper's Carnitas Tacos
Nice presentation

Presentation aside, the taco shells weren't exactly filled to capacity, the portions of meat and dress was less-than-generous.  The pork was decently seasoned and tender, but not robust with flavor.  The cilantro and onion provided some authentic Carnitas flavor and the serrano creama was nice, the queso fresco provided the nice light salty, tangy flavor you're looking for and I appreciated the flour tortillas and the slight toast...  But missing from the plate, the side of roasted green chili sauce which I could have used with the pork lacking in robust flavor.

Costing me $11.81 with tax for the taco dinner, the Jose Pepper's Carnitas Tacos scored 55 out of a possible 63 points earning 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Good but not great tacos, the price is somewhat reasonable but the portion was less-than-generous and the seasoning on the pork less-than-remarkable.  Coupled with average cilantro rice and slightly above average refried beans, this taco plate is NOT worthy of a repeat buy.  Here's another example of why buying local is SO much better.

4 stars

Jose Pepper's
Tender port, but not robust with flavor.

Located at 11423 E 13th St N, Wichita, KS 67206, the service at Jose Pepper's was excellent.  Jesse was friendly and attentive.  He didn't miss a beat on anything, from ensuring my meal was good, to refilling my drinks.  Things started to get busy towards the end of my visit, but that didn't phase him, he multi-tasks just fine.

Related: Jose Peppers in West Wichita Closes its Doors

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related:  Other Taco Joints Reviewed So Far

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