Sometimes I miss trying new eateries because I send my co-critics to review them, and if they don’t talk up a place enough to entice me, I tend to skip visiting myself. So while the Indy may be a repository for historic review knowledge, I have some blind spots with personal experience. Jarrito Loco has been one of those I missed, but not because my then-colleague Fiona Truant didn’t champion the spot in its nearby original location back in 2018 — oh they did — but because I (for no good reason) hadn’t hit Monument at the right time since. Then, recently, a chef friend cited Jarrito Loco as their favorite Mexican spot around. I told another friend that, and he became hooked, making a trio of visits in a short time before I finally joined him for my own meal. I was totally surprised to find the former Village Inn location lobby packed with people waiting for a table on a weekday night — a great sign of good things to come.
If You Go
315 Highway 105, Monument, 719-487-9808, jarloco.com
We sit down at the bar and observe a lone bartender heroically cranking out ticket after ticket, just slayin’ his margarita game. We add to his list. My pal has settled into a routine of a Cadillac Margarita with added jalapeño coins for a kick. I’m used to seeing it made with Grand Marnier, but here it’s with Gran Gala (Italian brandy-orange liqueur) and a Sauza reposado; very pleasing for $11.50. I go for another Cadillac variant for a few bucks more, named the 1959 El Dorado Margarita, made with Kimo Sabe Mezcal, a boutique, sustainably farmed label that lends a potent mezcal earthy/smoky/spiciness to the delightful marg, served in a thick, pretty, multicolor martini-style glass with a Tajín rim and lime garnish. We’re off to a great start, trying not to fill up on tortilla chips with a mild, piquant verde salsa and a smokin’ hot and awesome house rojo salsa, made with chile de árbol, I’m told.
At my chef friend’s recommendation, I order us items that will allow me to try the house mole and cochinita pibil. The Carne Tampiqueña plate delivers a mole enchilada alongside a strip of thin, chewy carne asada, quality rice and partly puréed black beans, pico and guac with cotija garnish and sharp white onions. With the chicken enchilada, the mole’s marvelous, complex with spices, cacao bitterness and not too much sweetness nor overly bright individual ingredients, such as star anise or clove. We get the cochinita pibil as a taco, from an à la carte list, and it arrives on a notably thick and substantial, house-made corn tortilla, the traditional Mayan-style, citrus-marinated pork cooked in banana leaf and garnished with pickled red onions for an acid pop to complete the tender meat’s mildly sweet finish. We also order Chuleta en Chile Pasilla, another pork taco, this time made with pasilla chile sauce, mild and lightly earthy, quite similar to ancho chiles; the meat juicy and soft, cilantro garnished.
Lastly, I learn not to leave Jarrito Loco before sharing a dessert of their superior sopapillas, triangular flour tortilla puffs dusted in powdered sugar and pecan crumbles and coated in no small amount of cajeta, a fabulous goat milk caramel that will make you want to mop the plate and leave no trace behind. I take less home to-go (to share) than intended, content with my gluttony even if I’ve clearly over-consumed to uncomfy fullness.