Type: South Side Tacos
After being open for a solid 17 years and bragging about it on a white sign in the window, how could I not travel to Zacatacos to check out their fine array of tacos. I have to admit, I was nowhere near the neighborhood when I decided to stop by, but multiple sources assured me Zacatacos was a place I needed to visit if my love for tacos was real. Let me explain something to those people: I don’t need much convincing to go anywhere if you want me to eat tacos. I already have a Pavlovian response to the word “taco”.
They have multiple locations, but I thought it best to visit the original on South Pulaski. When you enter, there is a small section in front where you can order your food to go. The main dining room is pretty big. I have to say it was kind of lacking in any cool Mexican art or flat screens with telenovelas, but it still managed to feel comfortable.
The salsas were delicious. Super spicy, so much so that I couldn’t even really tell the difference between the red or the green salsa because my mouth was pretty much numb from the first bite. I like spicy, but I also want to be able to taste my food. My server was a little slow, and she forgot to bring me utensils, which I had to ask for. They also served me a complimentary quesadilla that was quesadelicious.
Zacatacos lives up to it’s name, in the sense that, they have a shitload of tacos you can eat. When presented with this many options, I begin to shut down and I just end up ordering everything on the menu. Of course I cannot tell you in detail about all of the tacos because we would be here all night, so I’ll just go over a few major key points. I would also like to add that if you look closely, you can probably figure out what order I consumed the tacos in as my plate got progressively messier with each photo.
First off, these guys are definitely old school. Probably not as old school as El Milagro, but they know what they are doing when it comes to Mexican food.The steak tacos are reminiscent of La Pasadita and Las Asadas: skirt steak salted, grilled, and chopped into chunks. Delicious, but really gave my jaw a workout and instantly activated my TMJ.
The Al Pastor was just alright. The main difference I’ve noticed in Al Pastor comes down to the marinade and spit roasting. Reheated on the griddle is just not the same. What I did notice was a heavy nutmeg flavor to it. It distracted me and I began to dream about making tacos for Thanksgiving.
The cecina taco, which is cured/marinated steak, was excellent, and probably the best taco out of the bunch. Flavors of salt and garlic were strong and delicious, and I expect vampires will be kept away for quite some time. A little chewy, it seemed to wrap well with the tortillas. (They give you two here per taco)
They had a fried potato taco, which sounded pretty interesting, so my fat ass ordered it. I have to admit I was pretty psyched for it, because I enjoy eating fried things. However, when the the tacos arrived, I came to a quick realization: they fry the whole taco! I guess I was kind of picturing something like tator-tots inside of a taco, which would have been glorious. Instead it was more of a taco they dumped in the deep fryer that fused shut, with some very bland steaming hot potato inside. And yes, I did my best to pry it open and get some salsa up in that piece. Taco fail.
On to the worst taco of the bunch, the chicken taco. I don’t know what it is about chicken tacos, but so many places seem to not really know what to do with the chicken. If you ask me, your best bet is to season/marinate the the f*ck out of that chicken and shred it, so flavors and spices are evenly dispersed. Zacatacos did not do that. Instead they decided to cut up giant chunks of chicken, steam them or something, and put them in my motherf*cking taco. It was basically the blandest taco this side of the Rio Grande. The only thing I could do at this point was drown it in salsa to give some flavor to the chicken inside my taco.
If I am in the area I will definitely stop by, although I don’t think I will make that long trek just for tacos again. They have a parking lot and there are plenty of metered spots on Pulaski.Tacos run about 3 dollars each. I would say this is a good place to grab some tacos on the go.
I give Zacatacos 3.5 out of 5 chiles!