Taco N Madre (St. Paul, MN)

We had been slated for several weeks to eat dinner at Petite Leon this past Saturday. But with the Delta variant spreading quickly in Minnesota—and reports that the Pfizer vaccine may not offer very strong protection against breakthrough infection—and August 2021 beginning to feel increasingly like August 2020, we decided to be cautious. And so we cancelled our plans for fine dining Mexican dinner in Minneapolis and instead went for casual, outdoor Mexican lunch in St. Paul. Our port of call? The relatively new Taco N Madre on St. Paul’s West Side (I think). Here is how it went.

The West Side has a large Hispanic population and a number of Mexican and other Hispanic restaurants (we drove past El Cubano on the way there). We really need to get (back) to more of them and I need to write them up on the blog—do let me know in the comments below if there are ones you’d particularly recommend.

But for now, Taco N Madre. It’s a large restaurant, done up quite attractively. There are two dining rooms indoors and a few large tables on the sidewalk alongside. I’m not sure if under normal operation they do table service indoors but for now at least it’s all counter service. You place your order and if you are sitting outside—as we were—you take a buzzer and head to your table. Once it buzzes you pick up your food. When you’re done you clear your own table.

The menu is large. As you might expect from their name, they have a number of taco options. Their other specialities are ceviches and aguachiles (ceviche’s slightly more dressed-up cousin). They also have some interesting caldos/soups and so forth. As we were just the four of us at lunch we couldn’t order too wildly. We ended up with 6 tacos, a small octopus ceviche served on a tostada, a larger shrimp aguachile and caldo de pescado (fish soup). Of the tacos, the carnitas, carne asada, chorizo and cochinita pibli (rather juicy) were fine if a little under-seasoned. The birria taco was much better dipped in the accompanying consome. Our pick of the six though was the battered Baja fish taco. The octopus ceviche was fine; we like the shrimp aguachile more (it was served with tostadas). The caldo de pescado which featured a large piece of fish in a tomato-based broth was rather good.

For a look at the restaurant and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for price, my thoughts on value and to see what’s coming next.

With tax and tip the total came to about $78. Pretty good value considering the amount of fish and seafood and also considering we took most of the soup home and it made an entire meal for me the next day. You could certainly get out of there for far less. Oh and the people are very nice. So, all in all, it’s a great neighbourhood place. I don’t know that I’d advise driving a long distance to eat there but if they’re within easy range of you do consider giving them some support.

What next on the food front? This weekend might see both Kansas City and Madison reports. Next week’s Twin Cities report will either feature a return to Grand Szechuan or a Pakistani meal.


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