Steve's Gastronomic Home Page

El Taconazo (Closed)

6110 N. Mesa St.
El Paso, TX

El Taconazo next door to Tia's

Athough El Paso is the self-proclaimed "Mexican food capital" of the United States, there is an increasing variety of this cuisine found throughout the Sun City. My early experiences with El Paso restaurants were largely with two types of restaurants: traditional (serving dinner plates with steaks, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, etc.) and home style (many times in a converted house where one person would cook a lunch much like the ones served in homes with smaller portions, vegetables or french fries as side dishes, and caldo de res for soup).

A third type of Mexican restaurant, the Mexican style taquería, has now become quite popular not only in El Paso, but throughout the United States. El Taconazo was preparing the traditional northern Mexico style tacos long before many of the current taco restaurants sprouted up, and has had a loyal following ever since. I still think El Taconazo is better than most of its competitors, with its main shortcoming being that it closes earlier than many of the other restaurants.

The specialty of El Taconazo is tacos al carbon, diced meat grilled over charcoal and served as soft tacos. Both beef and chicken are served, and other types of meat are available such as fajitas (fajitas are cooked with different spices, and possibly a different cut of meat, but are very similar to tacos al carbon).

El Taconazo is more of a "full service" Mexican restaurant than many other taquerías by offering enchiladas, chiles rellenos, and similar dishes.

Tacos al carbon
Tacos al carbon served on soft tortillas

The Tacos al Carbon at El Taconazo compare favorably to others I have tried. The meat served in the chicken tacos is cut up into small chunks consisting of both dark and white meat. It really does not have a whole lot of flavor by itself until you add salsa or guacamole (which comes with the order). However, the chicken is free of bones and gristle, making it one of the better presentations of this dish.

The beef version of the dish is lean with a good flavor, but for me the enjoyment comes largely from the toppings. Guacamole, lime, grilled onions, and salsa all add to the flavor of the meat and soft tortillas that serve as taco shells. Cilantro makes an attractive garnish, but I also like to add it to the taco.

To get the traditional Tacos al Carbon experience, though, you need the full dinner with side dishes including a baked potato and cooked green onions. The baked potato served at El Taconazo is a rarety--it tastes like it comes from an actual oven instead of a microwave. The refried beans are not too greasy and have a good flavor. The guacamole that is served in a small bowl is the weakest point of the dinner, but still provides added flavor to the tacos.

Fajitas are much the same as the tacos, with grilled meat served on the plate and fresh corn tortillas on the side so that you can make your own tacos out of the meat. The Fajita Combination Plate comes with a baked potato and guacamole, as the tacos do, but has grilled onions instead of the green ones I like so much on the taco plate. The large pieces of fajita might be considered better cuts of meat than is served in the Tacos al Carbon, but I did not like the flavor quite as much, and there are restaurants in El Paso that serve better fajitas. I don't think you can go wrong with either the fajitas or tacos.

I don't care much for some of the other entrées on the menu, but the Chile Relleno is probably the best of the non-taco items.

El Taconazo is open for lunch, closes at 7:30 p.m. most weeknights, but is open later on Fridays (but it's a tough choice between this and Tia's seafood restaurant next door, which is also open late on Fri.).

On the wall of the restaurant hangs a photo of the original El Taconazo, a drive-in style restaurant on Thunderbird Drive that was located a few feet from the current building. While the new building is more modern, it is also somewhat hard to spot by people driving on Mesa Street. By turning on Thunderbird, though, the restaurant is easily visible from behind the buildings that block its view from Mesa.



Cuisine: Mexican Chihuahua
Cost: $$
Hours: Closed Sun.
Accessible: Yes
Cooking Oil: Vegetable
Smoking: No Smoking

Chile Index:

Most Recent Visit
May 1, 2009

Number of Visits: 10+

Best Item
Tacos al Carbon

Special Ratings
Tacos al Carbon: beef
Tacos al Carbon: chicken
Fajitas: chicken
Red Enchiladas:
Chiles Rellenos:
Baked Potato: