Thursday, February 25, 2010

Payday Tacos #2 - La Hacienda

Today we headed over to Park Street to hit La Hacienda, a Mexican restaurant at the corner of Park and W. Washington.
Today's choice: a chicken taco and a chorizo taco. Generally, they were good, standard tacos. The flavors at La Hacienda are certainly on the mild side, so there isn't a lot to really jazz the taste buds. They had a mild pico de gallo they serve with their complimentary chips, and I was too hungry to wait to ask for a salsa or sauce. Even, so it was a satisfactory lunch.
They were certainly authentic: served on doubled-up corn tortillas. The chicken was pulled and moist. The chorizo was cooked to a crumble and had a nice chewy and crusty texture.
Rating 0n a 10 scale: 6

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pay Day Tacos, #1

Today, we celebrate pay day with Tacos. Let's call it a new tradition.

First on the Taste Test List is Tex Tubb's Taco Palace. We visited their restaurant on Atwood Avenue on the near east side of Madison, WI.

Designed to look like a hole in the ground, this is a clean restaurant with terrific service. We had a great server today, and we shared tips on what kind of treats we're planning to make for Valentine's Day (she's making cookies).

I'm always in the mood for a fish taco, so I ordered their 2-taco lunch special, which is around $6. You can choose two of many different kinds of taco. I picked a blackened tilapia and a carne asada taco.

The blackened tilapia was served on double-corn shells with cabbage slaw, pico and onion. The flavors were terrific, although not super-spicy for a blackened fish. I poured some of the hot sauce from their salsa bar, and the taco was terrific.

The carne asada was a seasoned and marinated strip sliced ever-so-thin and grilled off for the taco. It was really terrific, and it was served on a flour tortilla topped with pico, red onions and guacamole. I would have chosen a corn tortilla, but it was nice nonetheless.

My girlfriend ordered the fried avocado taco and something called "Elisa's Choice," which is fried avocado, mushrooms, black beans, tomatoes, onions, and feta. Elisa's Choice has now become my lover's choice, hands down. She raved.

The lunch was served with rice and beans. It promises to keep you full and happy until long after dinner time!

Tex Tubb's is highly recommended. It's a fun place for lunch, but I'd rather be having happy hour there now!

Overall, I give it a 8 out of 10. My lady gave it a solid 9: "It was really good."

Friday, February 5, 2010

Burger Time - Taste Test #1

Welcome to the first Burger Test for Taste Test Madison.

Our mission: To seek out the best burger in Madison, Wisconsin.

Background: For years, we have seen signs posted throughout the community: "Best Burger In Town." We have often thought one of two things: 1) Oh yeah? Sez who? and 2) How can YOU have the best burger if that shack over there has the same claim on a sign!

So we set out to test a different burger each month (hey - we're all over 40 and don't want to speed up our inevitable heart troubles). On the first Friday of each month, we will try and review a burger from a different restaurant/pub/bar/cart/dive in Madison, Wisconsin.

Today, we're starting out with a hotel restaurant - The Dayton Street Grille. It's located in the Madison Concourse Hotel. (Full disclosure - I work there, so it made for a real easy choice since I was too lazy to go elsewhere this month. Even so, this won't influence my review. I don't care if this is the best burger or not - I just want to find which one IS the best burger!)

I brought 4 buddies along for the test, although one guy opted for the grilled cheese. Hrmn.

The burger here is advertised simply - Grilled Burger, made with aged Highland Beef (from the local Fountain Prairie Inn and Farm). It came out well presented and straight forward. I took this photo before diving in. (Click on the photo for a closer look - you can almost smell it!)

I had ordered it medium rare, and it was a little more on the medium side. Steve ordered it the same way, and got it a little more on the rare side. In any case, both were within reasonable range.

It looked to be about a third-pound patty, and there was very little seasoning. Maybe some salt and pepper, and maybe not. The beef was certainly the highlight - real high quality, as you'd expect from a local farm. If anything it was a little lean for my tastes, although my compadres thought it was terrific. Very good beef flavor that came through right with the first bite.

The bun was fresh, toasted on the inside, and soft under the crust. A very nice combination in the burger, and makes up at least a third of my score.

Here's how it rated:
Me (John) = 8 out of 10
Steve = 8
Chris = 8
Rich = 9
Adam = Grilled cheese (what can you do?)

Quotes in support:

Rich: "The nice thing is that you don't have to throw a lot of crap on it for it to taste good."

Steve: "Good burger"

So, we start off with a success. We're trying to only review successes, so we do recommend this one!

Next month - The Caribou Tavern on East Johnson for a Bou Burger!