reviews of tacos!

Laredo's Mexican Restaurante

Madison WI

4538 university ave, madison WI 53705
mon-thurs 11am-10pm, fri 11am-10:30pm, sat 11am-10pm, sun 11am-9pm

Laredo's Mexican Restaurante - taco review

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Rating: 90
Price: $$$

On the blusteriest night of all the blustery nights during my time in Madison, I returned to the neighborhood of business associate Doug for another westside taco trial. Doug, of course, is a official business associate of some renown as the Meriwether Lewis of Madison's western frontier - on this occasion, he was accompanied by additional business associates Danielle (Clark, if we're continuing our analogy) and Miles (some kind of French fur trapper I guess). I need not mention that all three of these explorers are native Montanans.

They had fortunately already seated themselves by the time I arrived and acquired a goodly basket of tortilla chips and salsa. I instantly 'tucked in' and began eating at a rate approaching my chip-crunching maximum, pausing only to dislodge corn mush from my molars and enjoy the fine conversation of my Rocky Mountain companions. It should be here noted that the salsa was fairly tomato-rich and an evident home blend. It didn't have much spice to it, but it was certainly suitable for the chips, and the waitstaff was remarkably attentive at providing chip basket and salsa bowl refills.

After the standard period of deliberation, I placed an order for some horchata and the al pastor tacos - a special of the day. The standard taco options at Laredo's (somewhat controversially lumped into a 'Tacos & Chimichangas' category on the menu) are chorize, pollo asado, carnitas, steak, or carne abodaba. Laredo's should be commended for their mix of traditional family-style Mexican restaurant meats (steak, chicken) with taqueria-style fillers (chorizo, adobada). Laredo's - a place for everyone, and everyone in this place!! Sadly, the second clause of that sentence was untrue, as Laredo's was fairly mellow; however, as I mentioned, it was a blustery evening (and a Sunday to boot) so I reckon many potential customers stayed in and ate Chef Boyardee Ravioli while watching football.

The tacos came out pretty quickly with a side-dish of bonus salsa. They were on double-corn tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions, and containing a sizable portion of meat-filling. There was no lime accompaniment. The tortillas were nicely heated and ductile without being too brittle - unlike Fuzzy's, no tortilla fracturing occurred during the consumption process. The bonus salsa was a smoky red with a surprising level of heat when compared to the chip-dipping salsa above discussed. While hot at first bite, it was manageable because it didn't have much of an afterburner - the entirety of the flavor was packed into the first couple tastes, and it quickly dissipated in one's mouth.

The salsa was apparently designed specifically for the al pastor tacos, and it accompanied them well. The al pastor had a great technique for blending the sweetness and savoriness characteristic of marinated pork. The sauce itself was mostly a tangy, spicy marinade, but the meat was mixed in with pineapple chunks. By covering both equally with sauce, Laredo's was able to generate some element of surprise - on each bite, you never really knew if you were going to get a sweet pineapple chunk or all meat (though you were always hoping for the former). The meat itself was nothing to complain about, though - the pork was strip cut, tender, and very flavorful. The pineapple and pork worked well enough that I forgot altogether about my desire for limes. My initial misgivings about Laredo's due to the taco/chimichango lumping appears to be unfounded - the al pastor tacos really hit the spot. Unfortunately, I can't make bold claims about their regular, day-to-day tacos, and I don't know whether they are up to the standards of the daily special. But, nonetheless, Laredo's is definitely worth a trip - and they've got four locations!!

On a side note, Miles pointed out a 'Holy Guacamole' Bar tucked off to the side where we came in. It wasn't utilized during our visit, but my suspicion is that they have a master guacamole chef whip up a serving of guacamole from fresh avocados right in front of you. Obviously, this sounds great, and may merit a return trip on simply for the novelty of it all!! And, we must note, their website is definitely worth a visit.

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