Saturday, March 27, 2010

Payday Tacos #4 - Laredos

Laredos is my favorite Mexican restaurant in Madison. It is just the right combination of quick service at reasonable price. I've never left hungry.

I took it easy today, going with the lunch special of a taco with rice and beans. I chose carnitas . . . a wise choice at this restaurant.

I certainly had plenty of food, especially for lunch. I was surprised when the soft taco was made with a flour tortilla, which is not my desire or my expectation. Even so, it turned out to be the right combination with the shredded, flavorful pork carnitas. The taco was finished with some shredded lettuce and chopped green onion. The taco was stuffed with blazing hot (temperature) meat and was a nice compliment to the rice and beans.

I'd give this a 7 out of 10. It isn't my first choice off their menu, but it was definitely worthwhile. Funny to say, but 2 soft corn tortillas would have pushed it to 8 or more.

Laredos has three locations in Madison so far . . . I always eat at their original restaurant at Whitney Way and Odana. I remember dining here when they opened in February 1998 . . . they have come a long way from a sparse restaurant with a good, quick menu. They aren't as inexpensive as they were in those early days, but they are still fairly priced and deserve their success.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Burger Time #2 - Dotty Dumpling's Dowry

For our second burger on the taste test, we went to a heavy-hitter and a Madison institution: Dotty Dumpling's Dowry.

This legendary burger joint has moved a few times, now being located right on the UW Campus on Francis St. I had not been to Dottys since they moved from their location on Fairchild, so I was surprised to see that it had gone a bit upscale, with a hostess who greeted us and table service for the food. Previously, it was an order at the counter and wait for the runner to shout your name from service counter when your food was done.
I went fairly simple, but messy, with a burger medium rare with cheddar, grilled onions, ketchup and mayo. It came in at around $6. There were 6 of us today, with similar orders all around (except they were medium).

My girlfriend ordered a veggie burger, which was a composite of grains and certainly passable.

Dotty's uses ground chuck, which is generally accepted as the best choice for a burger. They are grilled on a char-broiler and service on a soft bun. The burgers were cooked to the right temperatures and served messy with condiments. This made for a good start but a messy finish that generally detracted from the full experience. It's tough to enjoy it when you have the tendency to shovel it in your mouth to keep it from all falling apart into your basket. In particular, the bottom bun dissolves away and can make it tough to eat (same results with the veggie burger, so it seems to be more about the wet condiments put on the bottom instead of the grease from the burger).

One of the guys, Rich, made a statement that his criteria for a rating is whether the burger patty itself would stand up as an entree served alone on a plate. He wouldn't necessarily pick this burger for that. Another team member, Chris, countered that the messiness is part of what made it a good burger.

Here are our ratings on a 10 scale:
Me - 6 (I was disappointed . . . I expected this to be the "gold standard" for our burger tests)
Kristine - 6 for her veggie burger
Rich - 6
Chris - 6
Ray - 4
Leah - 10. She repeated this rating several times, so perhaps a medium burger with American Cheese (the rest of us got cheddar), ketchup and pickles might have been the best way to eat it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Payday Tacos #3 - Casa Del Sol

Tacos go better with Dos Equis Amber. At least as far as a fun experience goes, where my love and I took a hooky afternoon off and started with some tacos.

Today we hit Casa Del Sol, which is in Fitchburg. There are certainly some authentic dishes, but this restaurant isn't in the category of "authentic Mexican." But, hey. We're in Wisconsin. Still works, and we still have about 40 restaurants and cart to hit before our jaunt is done.

Pictured here are chicken tacos. Click it for a closer look.
Served on soft corn tortillas, the chicken was grilled, cubed, and tossed in a spicy (but mostly salty) sauce. They are finished off with raw chopped onion and cilantro. Decent rice and beans complete the "platter." Lunch price was $6.95.
Rating for these: 6 out of 10.