Cinco de Mayo was a good day to try the new Mexican restaurant that’s close to our house: Taqueria la Esmeralda in the Jackson Creek Plaza. Taqueria la Esmeralda is in a location that’s seen many different restaurants, most recently Cocina Michoacana that closed in January.

Taqueria la Esmeralda opened in April and so it was time for us to try them out. After we looked at the menu posted on their Facebook profile page on the afternoon of May 5, I called them to order a late lunch for takeout. My mother ordered a Burrito Bowl Super with chicken and I ordered a vegetarian Super Quesadilla. To my surprise, the man who took my call said our food would be ready in five to ten minutes.

After a quick shopping run at the nearby CVS, we drove to the southern end of Jackson Creek Plaza near Cost Less Foods where Taqueria la Esmeralda is located. After we entered the restaurant, we noticed several people eating indoors and minor changes to the interior: The walls sported a new coat of bright yellow paint and the overhead TV had been moved to one corner of the restaurant next to the outer window.

After we entered through the glass door, we went to our left to the metal-top counter and told the woman at the cash register that we were there to pick up our food. After a couple of minutes, she had processed our order, we paid and the woman pointed us to the salsa bar near the back of the dining room so we could put salsa and/or other condiments in small lidded cups.

We thanked her and my mother took our bag that was filled with two Styrofoam boxes and a paper bag. At the bar, I filled a couple of cups with red salsa for our chips. Once we sealed the small cups, we put them in the bag and were on our way home.

When we unpacked the plastic bag on the kitchen counter, we found the paper bag was filled with corn tortilla chips. The quesadillas in my Styrofoam container looked more like an enchilada than the flat half-pie that I’ve received at other Mexican restaurants including Cocina Michoacana and even Taco Bell.

My Meal

The Super Quesadilla comes with cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and your choice of meat. I had no trouble when I asked for no meat. I thought about eating the quesadilla directly in the Styrofoam container, but then I noticed the bottom piece of the quesadilla leaking salsa juice, so I decided to put the quesadilla on the plate. The juice made the bottom of that piece a bit damp but not soggy.

Taqueria la Esmeralda vegetarian Super Quesadilla with chips

As I bit into the first of the two pieces, I discovered the flour tortilla was crisp and crunchy without being burned, but the tortilla was all I tasted. I had to take a couple more bites before I started tasting the salsa and cheese. A couple of bites later, I tasted the sour cream and noticed the guacamole was not only popping out of the quesadilla, but the heat from the guacamole was popping in my mouth.

I decided to eat the second piece with the remaining salsa I didn’t eat with the chips. The salsa on top of the quesadilla added the right amount of kick, but the tortilla shell was cooked so it was sturdy enough to keep its crunchiness with the moisture of the salsa on top. And the chips themselves were crunchy and had a mild corn taste, and the salsa itself had medium heat.

Mom’s Meal

My mother’s Burrito Bowl Super bowl came with lettuce, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, Spanish rice, refried beans, and chunks of grilled chicken. Those of you who read these reviews often know that my mother is sensitive to lactose, and she thought she’d be able to take out the sour cream with a spoon.

When she opened the Styrofoam box with her burrito bowl, she quickly discovered she wouldn’t be able to do that. She decided to try her luck and put the entire contents of the Styrofoam box onto her plate and put her share of the chips on her plate, too, so she could use some of the beans as a dip.

As my mother ate through her meal, she said she couldn’t find any taste of guacamole. Once she did, she immediately felt the heat and let me know about it. She also found the salsa for her chips to be too hot, so we kept it for later and I used it on taco casserole for dinner three nights later.

Taqueria la Esmeralda Burrito Bowl Super with chicken

The Verdict

Both the quesadilla and the Burrito Bowl Super were tasty, and our meals gave us plenty of food to fill us up and get us moving for the rest of the day.

And perhaps the best comment we had was that we didn’t think we’d be able to finish our meals because they looked so big, but we enjoyed them so much that we finished them in one sitting.

That means we bring out our green light for Taqueria la Esmeralda. The price for our lunches was a little over $20.

Want to Try Them?

Taqueria la Esmeralda is located at 535 South State Highway 49 in Jackson Creek Plaza, which is where Cocina Michoacana was located previously. They’re open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

You can view their menu on their Facebook profile page. The restaurant is open for dine-in and take-out, and there are seating limitations per current state public health guidelines. If you want to order and/or have questions, call them at 209-217-8155.

Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.