Wednesday, December 29, 2010

mexican/new in town: i strongly recommend MACHO TACOS

No. 3, Lane 126, Yanji St
(02) 2731-4489

MRT: SYS Memorial Hall

website: and facebook page

hours: 6:30 PM- 10 PM (soft opening hours)
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.

(4) Location

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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billy said...

i've tried to find this place twice, hopefully the third time will be the charm. i'm looking forward to some soft-shell, corn-flour tacos!!!!!!!

joanh said...

billy: let me know what you think after you find it! try looking from yanji street. or if you know where toasteria, go up that lane (248, zhongxiao e road) and go up 2 alleys from zhongxiao and turn left. it will be on your left hand side.

Jay said...

Joan, I read your blog every time I'm in Taipei (and when I'm not!) and I always like your choices. But this time I have to say you've knocked it out of the park!

I went tonight and had a burrito and I have to say it's the best burrito that I would ever expect to find in Taipei -- and I've had them all! The owner is very cordial and we had a nice conversation. It turns out he's also from Seattle.

I still probably have no chance of getting my wife to come with me, but I'll definitely be back. I hope enough Taiwanese enjoy Mexican food because I really want this place to be here for me when I'm in town.

4/5 stars, but only because they were out of guacamole!

joanh said...

jay: thanks so much for your comment!!! i'm glad you liked it and i also hope that it stays in business for awhile. keep spreading the word, right?

Paul & Jess said...

I would agree that this is the best Mexican that I've found in Taipei thus far. My favorite has been the fish tacos - the tortillas are a perfect combo of crispy/chewy and they don't skimp on the fish or toppings. And you definitely should get the horchata if you're craving a little something sweet. DELICIOUS!
My only complain would be that the pico is a little dry - but the corn salsa is a nice substitute.

bristowmom said...

I tried the nachos with pork and crisp tacos with steak. The nachos were very good, the steak in the tacos was such that I could not eat them - far too tough for my taste. Overall I prefer Oola to Macho Tacos.

As a side note: everyone at a table while I was at Macho Taco tonight was speaking English and I heard one diner telling his friend that he heard about the place from "this blog called Hungry Girl", as did I. If you don't already, you should sell advertising or something because you have a huge following of clueless expats (myself included) who turn to you every time we want to go out to eat. Keep up the great work!

Ken said...

I, too, went past the store a couple of times - had to ask a local storekeeper where it was. Apparently, it was also open today (Sunday) during the afternoon, so they may be doing lunch now (I'll ask next time).

Tried the fish tacos with horchata. The seats were all filled, so I did the take-out. Joanh is right - adding a little salsa helps, but overall, the quality of the ingredients and the cooked-to-order freshness are all first-rate. The prices are reasonable. With Burger Stop (also highly recommended by joanh) around the corner, BS and MT are my new "go to" spots for a quick bite. Thanks, joanh!

Ken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken said...

One other note - every order before and after me, while I was waiting for me order, was in English! Mexican food might not be very popular with the locals (I know my relatives don't seem to like it), but it's drawing enough foreigners/overseas Taiwanese to keep the seats full during lunch and dinner.

Unknown said...

if you like Macho Tacos then you HAVE to try EDDY's Cantina out in Dan Sui. I know its a long commute if you live in the city. But its worth it. Owned and operated by a mexican canadian. It is the BEST Mexican food in Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

I thought the owner is a celebrity and is from L.A.

Anonymous said...

wanted to try their steak burrito, got there around 7:30PM on Saturday night and there's around 15 people in the restruant. Got to the counter and was told have to wait 30 minutes for burrito! I'm sorry, but no burrito is worth 30 minutes of wait. Maybe next time.

Virginia said...

Just went to this place on Sunday night, the place was totally packed! I ordered and then went to a friend's house on the corner for 15 minutes before getting my order to go. They do understand English well enough for people to order in English. The food is ok compared to what I had in CA, but definitely very good in Taipei. The nacho is a bit on the dry side so I recommend getting 2 scoops of salsa to wet it a bit. The burrito is decent as well. The prices are ok for Taipei. The portions are big for most Taiwan places but about the right size for what I had in CA. I would probably go back again.

Pebblefoot Park said...

Back in the US I had a good friend from Mexico. One day he asked me, why do Mexican people always go to Chinese restaurants in the US but Chinese people never go to Mexican restaurants there? I'd love to bring that guy to Taiwan and show him how popular Mexican food is here! Thanks for all the great news about where to find this stuff.

By the way, I have a survey where teachers can rate their schools. And if you'd like, join our community called Pebblefoot Park!

joanh said...

Paul & Jess: the fish tacos are my favorite too! i haven't tried the horchata yet.. maybe on my next visit.

bristowmom: thanks for your comment about the food as well as about what you overheard! i love hearing stuff like that. haha! i don't have time to sell advertising at this point, but i'm glad that its helping fellow hungry people like me find good food around this crazy city. hope to hear from you again soon. btw- have you been back to oola since it became a lounge bar by night?!

Ken: yes, i should change the info as they are now open during lunch now from 12pm-3pm. Thanks for your comment and glad you are finding some good eats in that area!

Ken: i wonder if the English speakers alone can keep the business going at Macho and yes, I've tried Eddy's Cantina!

anonymous: i think a few of the owners are from LA/California..

Anonymous: that sucks you had to wait 30 minutes for a burrito. I've never encountered that long of a wait, but I've waited that long or longer for food before! thanks for your comment. hope you get to try it next time.

Virginia: thanks for sharing your experience. sounds like the weekends are quite packed. i think the nachos could use a lot more cheese and spread around, but i'm happy with their burrito and fish tacos.

Pebblefoot Park: that's a funny comment. thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Again, not really mexican, but they got the idea, "lucha libre" is mexican, tofu tacos are not...but localized flavours are ok sometimes.


Euphenia said...

OMG!!!! Thanks so much!!! I have yet to find a good mexican in HK!! I'm going to Taipei next weekend, and IM HITTING THIS JOINT!!!'Thanks so much ^_^

Anonymous said...

might have just been an off night but the chicken was super dry, the refried beans and rice (together) in my burrito tasted like mashed potatoes. the fish tacos were pretty good but most everything else we had was pretty bland

Anonymous said...

Went to their new location in Shida the other day. The chicken burrito I ordered hardly had any chicken in it. I had to really search for chicken pieces. The nachos were too dry and didn't have enough cheese. But over all it was not a bad dinner, the kids enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

HEY! Torrance? i'm west torrance high, class of '92! anyway, i went to Macho's last month and had the beef and fish tacos. it was suprisingly good. as with most foods, the sauce is what makes a dish excellent, rather than just "not bad.." and that is the case with the food i had at Machos. if they invest a little time into making a great sauce or two, i would definitely give up the idea of doing mexican food in taipei. another thing is that the chips are a little stale or maybe just not crunchy enough because it's so thick or not fried at high enough of a temperature. i wish hungry girl was in kaohsiung the past 2-3 years, i'd definitely have loved to have her opinion of the mexican food i offered.
maybe she'll have a chance someday in taipei...
keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

Joan, how incredible are you?! There should be a statute made after you...

Anonymous said...

It's nice to have something close to Mexican food in Taipei, however I've noticed my chicken and pork have had a fish flavor to it. I am curious as to their preparation methods. I am aware that the staff speaks English but my wife finds them unfriendly and snippy. The first time I had their food I thought it was really good, but every visit since the quality has declined. The steak is cheap and not flavored, the chicken was good but lately as I mentioned before it's gained a fish like flavor and the pork is downright awful. The Nachos and Black beans are a total score. No tamales :( I really hope this place tightens their ship up and start to care about the taste. The SYS location needs to lose their attitude as well. The Shida location is better. Sadly Oola was run into the ground and closed.

Syl said...

sincerely, I definitely think that this place is widely overrated!
Average menu and Average food with an average plain taste... for an expensive price!
no really it doesn't deserve its reputation.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what some of you are talking about. The flavor is excellent. Their chimichangas and burritos are filled with meat and great stuff. Very filling. Their cheese is great, their salsa is nice their guac isn't the best but it's far from the worst. It tastes like Avocado...The prices are very reasonable...some of you must be really cheap westerners.

And apparently some of you people are hogging the chairs AFTER eating....get out and let other people sit down. I'm so sick of every great western option closing down in this city. Make this one work.

Anonymous said...

Not good. Fish tacos were mediocre at best, and nachos were Taco Bell quality. There haven't been any reviews in 2 years, perhaps the quality has diminished?