Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mr Taco

Driving past the tiny strip mall on Bowden shortly after the opening of Mr Taco, I audibly scoffed and flippantly proclaimed that I wouldn't be eating there. But after a few more passes over the following months, my curiosity about this little taquiera started to grow. Then the recommendations from trusted sources started trickling in. My initial prejudice was certainly out of order considering that most of my favorite restaurants are hole-in-the-walls with almost equally ridiculous names. So Mr Taco became a top priority, if only to clear my conscience for dismissing it so easily.

chips and salsa

This particular strip mall on Bowden isn't particularly inviting. There's a small grocery store, which is essentially a cheap beer and wine depot with some snacks, and the parking lot is usually pretty empty. The Mr Taco logo above the restaurant's facade, with its sombrero wearing, mustachioed Mexicano might strike one as being a bit derogatory but as soon as you step through the door it becomes apparent that the owners and operators of the place are only engaging in some self caricaturization. Betraying his tough appearance, the guy who jumped up to take our order (who I believe may be the owner) couldn't have been any nicer or more welcoming. If warm service is one of your top priorities, they don't come much friendlier than Mr Taco.


Picking a representative menu item was a bit of a challenge. Despite feeling compelled to try the tacos because of the name, we both settled on burritos (I can't resist the allure of a good burrito) but resolved to go back and try the multitude of tacos, tortas, and quesadillas. We'd barely settled into our seats after raiding the salsa bar when our food came out. I'd imagine it might take a little longer when they're busy but that was still a lot faster than expected.

veggie burrito

What can I say about the Chicken Fajita Burrito? I've had some amazing burritos and this ranks up among the best. While not taking the crown, there's certainly a lot of flavor and the chicken was sauteed in an absolutely delicious sauce. Definitely better than I had anticipated and enough to warrant repeat visits. Akin to really great street food you might get when traveling in distant lands and similarly priced.

Once again the best restaurants are found in the most surprising locations (with the most surprising names). Those who like authentic Mexican cuisine or even Mexican inspired food are doing themselves a disservice by not stopping in. And while I doubt Mr Taco will ever become as astonishingly popular as a similarly named local taquiera, I hope they'll at least get the appreciation they deserve.

Mr Taco on Urbanspoon

Mr Taco
6426 Bowden Rd
Jacksonville, FL 32216

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