Friday, May 21, 2010

Payday Tacos #8 - Heaven is Great

Payday Tacos called for trying some place new. "Taco Heaven" has been open for a few months on West Johnson in Madison.

A friend of mine recommended it highly. Mainly because he is able to get a Hot Dog and a Taco in the same basket. There certainly is something to be said for that, but it's firm rooting in USA cuisine has kept me from trying it until now.

The menu is quite diverse, and tacos can come in several ways - American style with lettuce, cheese, and sour cream and Mexican style with chopped onion and salsa. There is a wide variety of tortilla, too: soft corn, fried corn, soft flour, and fried flour. I haven't seen a fried flour shelled taco since Taco Bell had its infamous "Taco Lights" in the mid-1980s. It piqued my interest enough to get one.

I ordered a fried flour with seasoned ground beef. It was naughty. It was not too greasy. The flavor was pretty good. But I wouldn't order that one again. It was more of a "say you did it" kind of thing for me.

But the tacos I bought in all seriousness were just right. I ordered chicken tacos "Mexican style" on soft corn tortillas. They came rightly double-shelled. The tortillas were just right and held firm with the taco. The meat was juicy, but not so much that the tortilla shredded. The meat was surprisingly not greasy. The salsa was fresh with a mild bite. I did need to add some hot sauce, and that made a great taco better.

Best of all, I thought, was the construction. Value is important, but too many places load it up so that the taco is too hard to eat. This was just the right amount of meat to tortilla. These were just the way I like them.

I was sorry that I couldn't get the carnitas (they had equipment trouble that made them 86 shredded beef and pork carnitas), but the chicken filled in nicely. I'm just hoping they add a fish to the roster someday. Then they just might make it to a 10.

My girlfriend ordered the Veggie Quesadilla. The fillings were generous, including a heap of black beans and cheese. The item was cooked in the fryer, though, which was a deduct for her. She's not a fan of fried food, and she was hoping for a traditionally grilled quesadilla. She gave the insides a high rating, but wouldn't order it again because of the shell. It was more like a flat chimichanga.

I ordered the right thing, though. I give it a 9 out of 10. This is in the lead so far, which is a shock because I walked in expecting to "pan" the place. Just goes to show you: you don't know what you don't know!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tacos #7 - In Paradise

Payday tacos got changed up this week . . . to a place that doesn't specialize in Mexican food at all: Cheeseburger In Paradise.

We resisted this restaurant for quite a while, not really being fans of Jimmy Buffet and thinking it to be another chain dropped into a semi-urban area. Well, we aren't wrong with those assumptions, but this has still become a fast favorite because the atmosphere and offering makes it right. There's something great about an open air tiki bar that gives you that tropical attitude.

We ate at the bar, and I saw they had fish tacos on the menu.

The dish fit the environment very well. I ordered the fish grilled. The tacos were on soft flour tortillas with cabbage and a pineapple salsa. There was a spicy sort of cream sauce served on the side, which provided just the right spicy kick to offset the sweetness of the salsa. Overall it was a nice dish that I would recommend to anyone . . . provided that there were some natural and warm breezes moving by wherever you were sitting.

The bonus was that we only heard the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" song once! It's fine, but we have been there before when it seems like it came on all the time.

A great atmosphere, friendly service, and a pretty good dish made for a rating of 8 out of 10 on their fish tacos!