Macho Tacos, which opened in December, has already garnered a following among expats looking for hearty, tasty and reasonably priced Mexican food. The restaurant specializes in Baja-style Mexican dishes (or “fresh Mex”). Its menu, which includes burrito bowls, quesadillas, nachos and tacos filled with pork, steak or chicken, sticks to the fresh Mex ethos of freshly prepared ingredients in simple combinations.
Macho Tacos is still going through some growing pains as it learns how to manage its supply of ingredients. The restaurant, which only has four tables, already enjoys a thriving take-out business. By 7pm on Sunday, it was out of carnitas (barbecued pork); chicken was unavailable by the middle of lunch a few days later. Tofu is listed on the menu as a meat substitute, but will not be sold for a few weeks, according to the staff. (Bean and cheese burritos are currently available for a vegetarian option.) To avoid disappointment, make sure to call ahead if you are craving something in particular.
Shortages aside, Macho Tacos’ staff is professional and orders are snapped up quickly. One characteristic of fresh Mex is the use of seafood. Macho Tacos only has fish tacos and burritos, but they are excellent. The tacos (NT$155 for three) are made with lightly battered fried white fish, cabbage, onion and tomato salsa heaped on a homemade corn tortilla and drizzled with a tangy sour cream sauce. The thick corn tortilla is very lightly grilled, soft and slightly nutty tasting.
Avocado lovers who were hoping to enjoy big tender chunks of their favorite fruit will be sad to find out that the guacamole is pureed and comes out of a squeeze bottle, but plenty of it, and sour cream, are served on top of the burrito bowls (NT$120 to NT$160), which also have lots of beans, rice, cheese, lettuce and meat (the steak and chicken versions were both tasty). You can choose from lime and cilantro or Mexican-style rice. The latter is the better option by far. (I found the lime and cilantro rice bland and too dry.)
Address: 3, Ln 126, Yanji St, Taipei City (台北市延吉街126巷3號) Telephone: (02) 2731-4489
Open: Monday to Saturdays from noon to 3pm and 6:30pm to 10pm, Sundays from noon to 3pm, 6:30pm to 9pm
Average meal: NT$180
Details: Chinese and English menu, credit cards not accepted
Burritos are sold in two sizes (regular and “macho,” NT$100 to NT$180) and packed with a good balance of meat, rice, beans, salsa and lettuce (guacamole, sour cream and cheese can be added for NT$30 extra). The hot grilled quesadillas (NT$90 to NT$140) are also delicious. The crispy taco shells have a lot of crunch and aren’t too oily, but could use more filling. (Tacos are NT$45 to NT$55 and include lettuce, cheese, homemade salsa and meat.)
The nachos (NT$150 to NT$180) are big enough to serve as an entree. My companion and I ordered the pollo asado nachos and the crispy corn chips came topped with chicken, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and jalapenos and slathered in melted cheese. The restaurant’s salsas are all fairly mild, but bottles of Cholula hot sauce are available. If you overdo the Cholula, try a cup of horchata (NT$55) — a sweet, creamy beverage made from milk, rice and cinnamon.