210228NACHOSTACOS

Nikki Bolka, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, ordered the huarache Mexicano ($8.49) during a recent visit to Nacho’s Tacos in Janesville.

JANESVILLE

Muchos anos pasado, a cerveza with a fresh squeeze of lime and a torta at a little street café have always been a lunch favorite for me. Right now, I’ll just have to imagine the outdoor part.

Thankfully, Nacho’s Tacos on Creston Park Boulevard has made this my favorite lunch again. In addition to delectable food, diners also can pick up their beer there, too.

When I visited recently, the restaurant entrance had a sign redirecting me to enter through the adjacent bakery/grocery. Walking in, there’s so much to see: cases stocked with fresh salsas, meats, tortillas, hot sauces and spices. Colorful pinatas hang from the ceiling, and there’s a wide assortment of Mexican breads and sweet treats all made fresh in the bakery in the basement.

Nacho’s Tacos carries a bit of everything in its narrow grocery aisles, but it is quite different from modern supermarkets. Be sure to take some time to look around.

When there is no one available to serve you on the restaurant side, you can order in the store. Keep in mind that Nacho’s is not a fast-food restaurant and, depending on the time, service can be a little slow. I recommend calling in your order, at least for the first time you visit.

For my lunch torta ($5.49), the eatery used a homemade bolillo, which is a crusty white roll with a soft interior that was toasted and filled with a choice of meats: chicken, pastor, Mexican sausage or steak. I prefer pastor—marinated pork shoulder.

Adding “the works” of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickled jalapeno, and avocado made this a large and filling sandwich. I couldn’t resist bringing home a tamale ($1.79), which also was made in-house, and I happily discovered that on weekends, Nacho’s Tacos has the cheesiest chili rellenos I have ever tried.

Jennifer chose the Mexican fajitas ($8.99) for her entree on the evening she ordered take-out. Her meal included guacamole salad, Mexican rice, and refried beans topped with cheese.

She was first impressed by the generous portions. Next, she was wowed with the flavor and texture of the finely chopped steak.

The peppers and onions also were crisp- tender, which is just the way she likes them. Chopped tomatoes and cilantro further enhanced the overall taste.

The refried beans, prepared using white pinto beans, were smooth and creamy, and Jennifer also loved the guacamole salad made with fresh, ripe avocados, chopped tomato, onion and cilantro.

Helene tried one of Los Platillos, Nacho’s Molcajete ($10.99). She misinterpreted the dish’s name and was a bit disappointed to find it did not come on a bed of nachos. But once she took that first bite, she was pleased with her choice.

The meal consisted of three types of meats: ham, thin steak that was a little chewy but had a nice flavor, and bits of seasoned sausage. All of the meats’ flavors stood out and, combined with the grilled onions, made for a wonderful, savory meal. The dish also came with a side of creamy white beans and Spanish rice.

Also included were grilled cactus and a sliced poblano pepper. While they were much too spicy for her to eat on their own, they were nothing a glass of milk couldn’t temper. She had to eat in shifts, though, to let her mouth cool down.

Helene also ordered the chips and guacamole ($3.49). Chunky with diced avocado, tomatoes, onion, bits of jalapeno pepper and plenty of fresh cilantro, it was hard to stop eating. If it weren’t for the spiciness of the jalapeno pepper, she would have easily finished it in one sitting. She was looking forward to enjoying the rest later, but her husband got to it first.

Nikki ordered the huarache Mexicano ($8.49), which features homemade masa dough, flattened and fried and topped with mashed white beans, chopped steak, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, sliced avocado and sour cream.

Based on Helene’s recommendation, Nikki added a side of chips and guac. If you like avocados, be sure to include this appetizer in your order. The guacamole was excellent just with the chips, but it also tasted good with the huarache.

For dessert, Nikki tried a piece of the tres leches pastel ($2.50). The spongy, milk-soaked cake was lightly flavored and not too sweet. It was a refreshing end to a delicious meal.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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