Ducking into Taqueria El Patron for a quick bite on Friday was probably one of the best ideas we’ve had in a while. In fact, when Amy and I looked at the menu (tacos from $2.50, wut?!), I became even more confident we were in for a treat.
This little Mexican restaurant, set back in a strip mall on Washington Road, was highly recommended by a couple of good friends and has been on my list of places to go for a number of weeks. Check out the taqueria online and you’ll discover it has proved a hit on review sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor.
Reviewers give it props for the “simple, authentic, belly pleasing food,” and “the best Carne Asada tacos in town!” For someone who is intimately familiar with authentic Mexican cooking, that’s got to be a huge bonus. But it’s the handmade corn tortillas and the massive flour burritos that seem to impress almost every commenter.
The interior is simple — pretty much what I had expected, but with one difference; it is bright, airy, spacious and cheerful. The walls painted a warm pumpkin orange, decorated with framed prints and greenery only add to the casual dining area. Tables are pulled together for large groups and small, and booths line the walls. The place was busy and only a couple of tables were available — we sat at one of the booths and were approached immediately.
After ordering a coke, I took a minute to look around. It’s a clean restaurant, despite the fast-paced service and constant traffic, and patrons are welcome to buy authentic Mexican products and fresh fruit including some hefty looking watermelons. The service was consistent and speedy and the servers were friendly without being overbearing. I was able to relax, chat with Amy and enjoy the game on the TV (the USA men’s soccer team beat Jamaica 2-0, btw. And you should already know this.)
Chips and salsa came out — three bowls ranging from the standard mild to a spicy hot, with a large bowl of crispy tortilla chips. I’m not a fan of anything that makes my eyes sting, but the spicy salsa wasn’t overbearing and though it packed some heat, the flavor was still very much present. Of course, you could use your own little dipping bowl to combine the three to your liking, but I was too caught up in the game to bother and before I knew it, our lunch was being served.
The massive Burrito El Patron was a wee beast. I told Amy I was sure my youngest was about that size when she was born. The charger it came out on was likely a 12-inch platter and almost every bit of available space was inhabited by this swaddled bundle of heaven. You’re given a steak knife to cut it — it’s that big.
The Burrito El Patron was stuffed with a delicious seared seasoned steak, rice, avocado, refried beans, cheese, onion, lettuce and tomato and topped with a tangy but sweet salsa verde. That extra note on top was brilliant and inspired. Goodness me. The tortilla was soft yet firm enough to handle its enormous load and the cheese, evenly melted throughout, made this challenge a truly guilty pleasure. At around $8, the burrito is a complete meal with every bite.
Amy went with a torta, the Mexican version of a sandwich that is sure to make any red-blooded American happy since it’s served with fries. The difference between a Mexican and American sandwich, however, is in the fillings. Sure, ham is offered, but on a rainy Friday, chorizo con huevos seemed like a good idea.
Served warm on a toasted roll, the sandwich was packed with spicy ground sausage, avocado, cheese, lettuce and tomato, but Amy couldn’t seem to find any eggs. That, however, was her only complaint, and she, like me, had to get a to-go box for the sandwich that was almost as big as my burrito. And at about $9, it was almost as good a deal.
I cannot say too much more — I was pleasantly stuffed after devouring half the burrito, and happily shoved the rest into a to-go box to be torn into the second I arrived home. Yum! No wonder customers leave happy — good service, clean and friendly restaurant with affordable, authentic and insanely delicious food. Ten out of 10. I would recommend it and will definitely return.