No. 3, Lane 126, Yanji St
MRT: SYS Memorial Hall
website: machotacos.com and facebook page
M-F 11:30-3:00pm; 5:00-10:00pm | Sat 11:30-10:00pm, Sun 11:30-9:00pm
$-$$ (Cash only)
Kid friendliness: no high chairs and small space
Visits reviewed: 12/22/2010 & 12/17/2010
Macho Tacos, Macho Tacos, Macho Tacos- say it three times fast. You'll be hearing a lot about it for awhile I'm guessing from my first few visits, as we finally have a little "hole in the wall Mexican place" right here in Taipei. I had been hearing about it from a few readers before I had a chance to visit and I didn't want to have too high expectations especially during their soft opening month in December, but I'm happy to say that they are definitely on the right track and should soon become a favorite craving for many, including myself.
What sets Macho Tacos apart from the other Mexican places in town?
(1) The "Baja style Mexican" menu and prices.
Set up more like a taco joint you'd find near a college campus in LA rather than a sit down eatery, the prices are good for what we're used to paying for "foreign" foods. There are soft and hard tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas and nachos, all available for under NT$200. The brightly lit signage is in English and Chinese with lots of pictures for newbies and the person taking my order seemed to understand everything even when I was ordering in English. There's also horchata (which my friend had for the first time) and beers. One con is that Macho Tacos only has about 12-15 sit down spaces that fill up quickly, but thankfully the food keeps well to-go, staying warm and crispy in the right ways.
(2) Fish Tacos on corn tortillas!
Macho Tacos replicates the experience of the fish taco (3 for NT$150) without any weird localization- down to the tiny piece of lime to squeeze, crispy fried fish topped with fresh cabbage and creamy, white sauce on a corn tortilla. Though the first time I felt the corn tortilla to be on the dry side, piling on the salsa helps. I know they are still tweaking all their menu items and their corn tortillas are handmade, so we'll see how it changes in the next few months.
(3) Mexican rice and beans!
It's not until you've sampled all the strange flavors passed off as rice and beans at Mexican restaurants in Taipei that you can appreciate how normal the rice and beans are at Macho. There is even a choice of black or pinto beans, as well as Mexican rice or cilantro lime rice- for your burrito or as a side. It fills up the burrito and makes it complete, yet there is still was a good portion of steak in my burrito. If you're hungry, I recommend getting the bigger size or macho steak burrito (NT$185) and maybe a taco or three.
For me, the location is perfect- on the Eastside, or Dong Qu, which is in my neck of the woods, not in Gongguan or Tianmu or Danshui. Can you imagine one day that there's little Mexican spots all over Taipei? It would be crazy!
Macho Tacos can be a little tricky to find and is easier to figure out from Yanji Street, though it's not too far from Lane 248's Toasteria and Alleycats.
Of course I had to try a little bit of everything to see what it tasted like. My favorites were the steak burrito and fish tacos- the meat of the carnitas/pork taco (NT$50 or 3 for NT$140) was a bit dry for me though I loved that each taco was doused in fresh pico de gallo, or chopped tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
and the chicken in the chicken hard shell taco was very bland, but the taco shell was fresh and crispy. I could see the diced chicken working in a quesadilla or burrito, but in a taco, it didn't seem to have any flavor. Both were made better by the salsa available in the mini salsa area, but I'd probably stick to my favorites on repeat visits. I might try the tofu tacos in the future and it would be cool to see if Macho could add shrimp tacos or burritos to their menu in the future.
I also wasn't crazy about the guacamole, as it was the squirt kind rather than the fresh, chunky kind and a side of NT$40 was a tiny plastic tub. I also heard that their nachos are made with nacho cheese which kind of excites me though I know that's more Taco Bell than Baja Fresh.
If you want it on the spicy side, you can look for the hot sauce bottles if the salsas don't do it for you.
There's no question that I have been waiting for a place like this for awhile, and it will be interesting to see if locals can also find a way to love Cali-Mex after years of eating Tai-Mex.
Happy new year everyone! 2010 has been a great year for eats in Taipei- can't wait to see what 2011 brings us!
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