Friday, April 23, 2010

Payday Tacos #6 - El Burrito Loco

The weather is nice in Madison (relatively so), so it's time to hit some of the street carts that get set up downtown and on campus. Today we visited El Burrito Loco, a cart that is usually stationed at the southwest corner of MLK and Main on the Capitol Square.

I ordered two tacos - one chicken, one beans - on soft shells. Mild salsa on the chicken, hot salsa on the beans. Let's see how we do!

We didn't do so well.

The taco shells were a little steamed when they should have been seared off. It made for a shell that fell apart, especially with the BEEF taco I received. I'm sure there was a communication gap, and they heard "beef" instead of "beans," even though I stated beans at two occasions. Generally, I can go with the flow . . . we'll see how the beef is, then.

Turns out, bad. First of all, the beef is steamed and largely unseasoned. The combo of steamed ground beef and shells that don't have a char or sear on them is a fall-apart mess. The photo shows the taco when I first pulled it out of the styrofoam container (sure glad I didn't buy this on Earth Day!).

Construction of the tacos started with 2 corn shells, a fairly generous portion of meat, shredded iceberg lettuce, a bit of shredded mild cheddar (their other dishes used either chihuahua or queso quesadilla) and salsa.

The chicken taco was much better, but still had too much iceberg lettuce to taste like much more than lettuce with some salsa and mild cheddar.

The salsas were pretty good, although it was very lightly applied to the beef taco. That was a shame, since it really needed it.

Overall, I wish I'd have saved the calories (ouch).
My rating -
Chicken taco: 5 out of 10
Beef Taco: 3 out of 10

Friday, April 16, 2010

Caribou Tavern! Burger Time #3

Spent a lunch hour at the Caribou Tavern on E. Johnson Street on the Madison Isthmus. It was a classic Wisconsin Tavern . . . without all the smoke you recall from the past, thanks to new laws.

Open the door, and you have the bar with stools along the left and video poker/slot machines along the right. For a tavern, it seemed to be a bit brighter than expected. Even so, it fit the stereotypes. And it's a pretty comfortable place to go.

This time, it was me, Steve, and Rich. Steve has a history with "the Bou," for sure. It was great to get some of the old stories. That, and be served by the same bartender who used to serve him when he was in college many years ago.

For the test, we got "Bou Burgers." This is a 1/3 pound patty of ground chuck (or, more likely, a lesser mix of ground beef) served on a pillowy, fresh bun. With or without a fresh slice of white onion. Steve went "with." I went without. Rich got cheese instead.

The bun gets the highest possible marks. Soft and airy, but the crust was firm enough to not become a sloppy mess in your hands. It is really the right combo of greasy grilled burger and a bun that can hold it up.

The beef detracted a bit from the sandwich in quality. It was properly cooked, but it didn't match the flavor and quality of the last two burgers we tasted on this blog.

Order it up with a cold Old Milwaukee, though, and you'll be dreaming about how good it was long after you left.

Our ratings on a scale of 10:
Me - 7.5
Steve - 8.5
Rich - 7.5

Worth the trip. And super-handy if you have some laundry to do. A coin laundry is conveniently next door!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Payday #5 - Pasquals

Being near Hilldale at lunch hour, we decided to duck into Pasquals for a quick taco!

Pasquals is a Southwestern restaurant with fresh flavors. Not quite as bold as Tex/Mex; not authentic like a Mexican restaurant can be. And they don't pretend to be more than what they are, which puts them squarely on the list of tacos to try.
They have a couple of taco platters available, which come with rice and beans. For tacos today, I chose shredded chicken on soft blue corn tortillas.

The highlight is the shredded chicken, very juicy and flavorful. The flavor, though, is chicken. And salt. There may be other seasonings in there, but you don't get the same cumin or chili-powder flavor of other pulled chicken elsewhere. It works very well for them.

The tacos are loaded with sour cream, lettuce, shred mix cheese, and black olives. These groceries are mainly unnecessary, particularly since the chicken is interesting in and of itself. The blue corn shells were a bit on the dry side and could have either been heated more or benefited from a little oil.

This sauce is what took me down, though. I like hot food, and this definitely qualified! I put some on my first taco, and it was excellent. I cruised through without it on the second taco since it's a workday and I'm drinking water. A nice Dos Equis Amber would have been great to keep pouring on the sauce.

Overall, I give it a 7 out of 10.