4512 e washington ave, madison WI 53704
ME: chorizo taco, carnitas taco, asada gordita
E: carnitas taco, chorizo torta
Portions were enormous, meat was well-cooked and seasoned, and guacamole was some of the all-time best.
As part of a romantic St. Valentine's evening, business associate Erin and I took a romantic drive down Lover's Lane and attempted to go to La Hispana Taqueria, based on the strength of the Google Reviews. Upon arrival, we found a well-stocked Latino grocery, but no evidence of the taqueria rumored to be within. Fortunately, within the same strip mall, we found a delicious-looking taqueria: Sabor Queretano.
After settling in, we looked over the menu. Unfortunately, they were out of al pastor for the evening. Our waiter/chef was very apologetic, and we placed orders for tacos of other varieties. I requested two tacos (chorizo, carnitas) and one gordita (asada), while Erin ordered one taco (carnitas) and one torta (chorizo). Also, it being a special occasion, we ordered chips & guacamole and grabbed a couple Jarritos out of the cooler.
We watched our host quickly make the guacamole in the back and bring it out to us. It was a superb blend of ripe avocados (>2), chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, and expertly seasoned. Overall, it ranks as some of the all-time great guacamole in the history of tacosmog.com. It came with 4 large, thick "chips," which may have doubled as tostada shells. The chips were easily broken up and dipped into the guacamole, which was more than enough for the two of us.
After another few minutes, which involved watching our buddy grill up some fresh chorizo, we received our orders. It was at this point my business associate realized the small but important difference between a torta and gordita - intending to order one (the gordita), she had inadvertently requested the other (the torta). This has since been identified as carelessness rather than ignorance due to her admirable history of gordita consumption at fine taco locales around town. This mistake was mostly notable because of the size of the portions. As the internet reviews for La Hispana mentioned, the portions are tremendous, and the torta was approximately the size of a human head, and piled high with toppings. This, in combination with the decor, led us to believe that the La Hispana reviews are intended for Sabor Queretano; SQ, sadly, is absent from Google Maps.
The tacos were also prohibitively large (in the best sense of the word 'prohibition'). The meat on my two tacos was equal in size to at least 5 tacos at many other taco spots around town. Tacos were topped with onions, cilantro, light cheese, avocado, and a mysterious white creamy sauce, which was delicious. Both of us got a small container of special salsa verde on the side. While the quantity wasn't large, the salsa was spicy enough that a little bit went a long way. I ended up drizzling a small amount over the tops of both tacos and my gordita, and still had some left over to take home at the end.
Taco-wise, I started out with the chorizo. The meat was, as mentioned, voluminous, and dominated the experience. The chorizo was crumbly and fried, giving it a variable texture, ranging from slightly chewy to pleasantly crispy, with a dominantly salty chorizo flavor. This was excellent, and even for a salt-lover such as myself, the chorizo was on the edge of my capacities as a human. It was well complemented by the mild mystery white sauce and avocado topping.
My second taco was the carnitas. In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that I only finished half of the taco in the restaurant - after the guacamole and chorizo mega-taco, I simply couldn't handle both another whole taco and a whole gordita, so I did half of each. This is, I believe, the first time in the history of tacosmog that I have been defeated in terms of food quantity. However, I ate enough carnitas to declare it completely delicious. It was mild shredded pork with a very light smoky flavor, which was accented well by the salsa verde. Despite the bulk of the tacos, the tortillas did an admirable job holding everything together, though there was obviously some inevitable spillover during the eating process.
I finished up with half the steak gordita (also delicious) and brought the rest home as leftovers, which were wonderful the next day. Despite our extravagance (guacamole, sodas, inadvertent torta), the price was still totally reasonable for the two of us. Taco-wise, I would say Sabor Queretano is on par with La Guanajuatence, perhaps even slightly better, though I'd have to try the pastor to know for sure. Portions are certainly larger. However, La Guanajuatence's salsa bar is still unprecedented - the salsa verde at Queretano was great, but it just didn't provide the variety I like. And, as salsa is an essential part of the taco-eating experience, that cements Queretano as Madison's #2 taco spot, . Fortunately for the residents of Madison, these two elite taquerias are located on opposite ends of town, so decision-making will rarely be difficult when in search of high-quality Mexican food.
Reviewed by tacosmog.com on