Home / Dining / Dining / Searching for Great Tacos?

Searching for Great Tacos?

Downhome Mexican at Taqueria Arandas

Mar. 25, 2014
Google plus Linkedin Pinterest
diningout
The West Side taqueria scene can be a bit daunting. Drive away from the lake on National, Mitchell or Lincoln in search of chili peppers and cerveza and you’re met with a venerable smorgasbord of taco trucks, corner carne-slingers and tucked-away neighborhood joints. There’s more than you could find in a lifetime of Yelp searches because many simply aren’t online. 

The blink-and-miss-it Taqueria Arandas looks like just another such unassuming spot, but the capitalist maxim of competition breeding quality can be felt as soon as you take one bite of a warm, oily tortilla chip bathed in their creamy jalapeño sauce. Here, the three standard table salsas are solid, but it’s that green one with the just-right kick, velvety consistency and certain mystique (is that avocado in there?) that left us asking for ingredients (unsuccessfully).     

Such a pre-meal touch assured that even a misorder could be righted. Not that it was much of an issue. Bistec ranchero ($8.49) yielded thin, tender, juicy slices of steak in a tasty, salty red sauce. The Milanesa de Pollo ($9.50) came in a massive light brown hunk that the butcher probably measured in square footage. The slab of breaded chicken was, miraculously, not dried out, and acted as a sauce-less blank slate, perfect for playing alchemist with the salsas and accompanying tortillas. Bell peppers instead of poblanos on the rajas gordita ($2.69) initially seemed a sad, spice-less choice, but the sandwich-like construction, surefire griddling job, and heavy-handed generosity with the queso and cilantro left a satisfyingly melty product greater than the sum of the parts. Unless you’re a vegetarian, it’s impossible for chorizo not to be good, but it was the tacos al pastor ($1.59 each) that actually showed more porky subtlety.     

Our waitress was happy to oblige our incessant desire for more chips and salsa; the service is best described as downhome casual with employees relaxing, taking breaks to chat and pump money into the jukebox. This, along with extra-low ceilings and dark, rough wood paneling lend a basement vibe. But the lacquered inlays about the tables and chairs and the brightly painted scenes of pastoral Mexico help hit a cantina note even in wintry Milwaukee. Regulars stop by for pickup orders and a table-to-table flower salesman works the room. So, it’s at once a cozy and soulful spot—a perfect place to eat yourself into spicy, carb-happy fatigue. In other words, here’s another hidden Mexican gem that makes it worth skipping the old go-to in favor of branching out, exploring and beginning to ponder how much else you might be missing.

 

Taqueria Arandas

1531 W. Lincoln Ave.

414-384-1563

$-$$

Handicap access: Yes

Poll

Scott Walker has proposed virtually eliminating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If passed, do you believe that Walker’s proposal would directly or indirectly impact the health of you or your children?

Getting poll results. Please wait...