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Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant

Milwaukee WI (Bayview)

2301 s howell ave, milwaukee WI 53207
website
414-482-2269
sun-thurs 10am-10pm, fri-sat 10am-11pm

Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant (Milwaukee WI Bayview)

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Rating: 88
Price: $$

After 6 months of monastic isolation in Madison, ranking tacos from best to most disintegrating, the tacosmog.com hivemine achieved sufficient clarity to begin exploring the other 65,413.12 square miles of Wisconsin. First on our figurative dish was Milwaukee. For those of you unfamiliar with Wisconsin, Milwaukee is where the state's semi-enslaved anthropomorphic deer perform for the masses in a pseudo-coliseum setting. Also, it has been deemed America's most segregated city by multiple measures. No other city in Wisconsin can compete with those two qualities, so repeat business associate Erin orchestrated a taco summit at Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant.

We arrived at Guanajuato on a Sunday at exactly noon, and the place was about half full. They had a large sign advertising the "best steak tacos in town" (which is rarely a bad sign) and an excellent interior. We were able to snag a table on an elevated platform almost entirely encased by glass; this also gave us a militaristic sense of advantage over our server. Fortunately, he was both friendly and accommodating, and no defense was necessary. Another highlight of Guanajuato was a crawling plant growing all over the roof, emerging from multiple pots around the room. It tended to cling to the lines between tiles but had achieved impressive overall coverage.

As we sat down, we were presented with a couple miniature glasses of water, a dish of salsa, and a basket of chips. The salsa was very strongly colored, an effervescent (not literally) orangeish-red, and a good amount of chunks were contained within. There was a light amount of cilantro and the flavor blurred the boundary between tang and spice quite well. There were citrus-y undertones, almost like a good al pastor, while retaining a tomato flavor. About halfway through, fellow business associates Rachel and Sierra arrived, and we soon had quorum to declare the salsa 'unbeatable'. We augmented our salsa with an order of guacamole, which was presented with even more chips, and moderate in quantity. The guacamole was particularly smooth, and tasted almost entirely of avocado. I typically prefer my guacamoles to have a noticeable lime component, which Guanajuato was lacking; however, the avocados were good quality, and the smooth flavor did accompany the tangy salsa nicely.

After being presented with some particularly large glasses of water, we placed our orders for various combinations of tacos. I ended up with 3: steak, chicken, and chorizo. I started, per tacosmog.com taco-reviewing protocol, with the chicken. It was plentifully juicy, shredded, and on a double corn tortilla bed with lettuce and tomato. The marinade didn't have a tremendous amount of flavor, but it was enough to spice up the meal and the chicken was powerfully moist. This taco ended up being my favorite, though certain business associates had other preferences. Next I went for the chorizo, which was topped with cilantro and onions and cost 25 cents extra. Unfortunately, this is where Guanajuato let me down. I may have just got the bottom of the chorizo bin, but the average piece size was too small and carbon-y for me. While I like salty, crunchy things enough to eat unpopped popcorn kernels out of the bottom of the bag, the chorizo was probably >50% exterior, leaving little opportunity to enjoy the delicious sausage taste. However, business associate Erin declared the chorizo to be her favorite taco. This may be due to either different meat quality or different tastebuds. I finished off with the steak taco. While I can't declare it the best in town, that's only because I've sampled no other steak tacos in Milwaukee. The steak was well-cooked, cut to about the right size, and tender.

My main problem with the steak taco (a concern I had with the chicken as well, though it was less noticeable there) was the lettuce-tomato topping. While tomatoes are undeniably enjoyable, you can easily acquire tomato flavor via judicious salsa application; lettuce is more often than not a waste of space. Cilantro and onions, on the other hand, have both significant flavor and the unmisteakable quality of panache! Salsa-wise, the tacos came with an addition squeeze bottle of smoky red salsa. It was somewhat similar to the previous salsa but the strong smoky flavor drowned out all the citrusy goodness, so I with the original salsa for all my taco applications. Guanajuato also made the controversial decision to not include any limes with the tacos. While this often drives a bolt of panic through my heart upon first glance at the plate, I didn't notice them being necessary for any of the three tacos - though that's not to say they wouldn't have made things better.

Overall, Guanajuato's was an excellent introduction to the Milwaukee taco scene, with a friendly atmosphere, excellent seating, good tacos, and great salsa. Plans for a return trip to Milwaukee are already in the works. Whether I come here again or sample another of Milwaukee's taqueria options, this (along with La Guanajuatense) is a strong argument in favor of moving to Guanajuato as soon as possible.

Reviewed by tacosmog.com on