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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Mexican Restaurant

Tacos in the Third Ward

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Chalk marks pointed the way. In the last week, denizens of the Third Ward were alerted to a new restaurant by announcements chalked on the sidewalks. As the new place's name suggests, Taco De-Bajo represents America's favorite ethnic cuisine, Mexican, and fills a flavor gap among the burgeoning array of restaurants in the surrounding neighborhood.

Taco De-Bajo's location has history. During the years when the Third Ward was an urban wasteland of empty lofts, the lower level of the venerable building at Buffalo and Broadway was occupied by La Boulangerie, a café that brought continental counter service and a touch of industrial chic to the Ward. Since the closing of La Bou early this decade, restaurants have come and gone. Until earlier this month it was the unused backroom of Broadway Café and Bakery. The Café still operates, serving coffee, Danish and light fare. But now, a few steps beyond and you are in Mexico. De-Bajo's interior is little changed from recent occupants, the brightly painted walls, vibrant abstract art and pale tile floor entirely appropriate to its new purpose.

Guacamole and chips are always a good way to start. De-Bajo's guacamole ($4.95), made on site, is a creamy and tangy blend of avocado and citrus flavors. Other appetizers abound, if you're in the mood for eating light. Try the gazpacho ($3.50 a cup) topped with avocado and jalapeno or a variety of nachos, ranging from three-cheese ($5.75) to veggie ($6.95), meat ($7.25) and an intriguing combination of everything ($9.25).

At my first visit, the chicken mole enchiladas ($7.95) were an excellent, savory combination of flavors, including cheese and cilantro. The three enchiladas were hearty and filling. There was no need to reach for either of the two bottles of salsa on the table, the hot or the extra hot.

Service is prompt and friendly, whether at the bar, an inside table or outdoors. (Warning: sitting on the unshaded cement fronting Broadway on a sunny day has been known to fry skin like an egg.) Taco De-Bajo offers five fresh juice margaritas, a slim beer selection and Jarritos Mexican sodas. Open for lunch only, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Taco De-Bajo
241 N. Broadway St.
(414) 226-1986

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