Tasty Taquerias

By Kevin Revolinski | Photography by Hillary Schave

Taquerias originated as quick-serve taco stands. In Madison, you’ll find them as brick-and-mortar stops or table-service eateries. But, the setup is the same — they offer quick, fresh and delicious food. Here are ten great taco options in the Madison area.

GARIBALDI MEXICAN RESTAURANT

This downtown table-service restaurant has trios of hard and soft tacos with your choice of protein — fish, pork, steak and shrimp. The burritos, fajitas, enchiladas and quesa- dillas are affordable lunch options. For dinner, find steaks and molcajetes, meals served in stone bowls (mortars). They also have Mexican beer on draft.

117 S. Butler St.

EL SABOR DE PUEBLA

The owner of this unassuming little counter place with outdoor seating is from Puebla — the home of mole sauce — which is a signature here. The tacos and tamales hit the mark, and the flan is killer. Also on the menu are cemitas, Puebla-style sandwiches with breaded chicken or beef cutlets. Drinks include beers and a Michelada.

305 N. 4th St.

VAQUERO MEXICAN GRILL

This speedy deli counter offers tacos, burritos, quesadillas, bowls and the less common machete. This specialty is a long, thin corn tortilla stuffed with your choice of meat and abundant cheese — all made to order as you watch. Churros and flan are for dessert. Many customers order to-go, but the spacious dining room with booths and fútbol on the TV are inviting.

3904 E. Washington Ave.

ZAVALA’S MARKET & TAQUERIA

The Zavala family taqueria recently expanded their space, with more seating and added table service. The huaraches — oblong fried masa with cheese and your choice of toppings — are the most popular, as is the quesabirria. The menu also offers burritos, tortas, empanadas and more. Order carnitas by the pound to take home!

805 S. Gammon Rd.

TEX AND CALI

Borderlands blend cuisines. Tex-Mex cuisine includes fajitas and chimichangas, and usually has cheesier taco toppings — not just onion and cilantro. California-style cuisine brings fresh and healthy twists..

BIG SUR CANTINA

A father and daughter team founded this festive, sit-down, California- Mexican restaurant and bar. Kick off your meal with one of three types of guacamole or several starter options. Find a large menu with 17 (!) tacos, including chicken tinga, birria, trout and veggie. Or, order a delicious burrito or bowl.

7436 Mineral Point Rd.

AROD’S TEX MEX & AMERICAN GRILL

This counter-service option is known for their popular birria brisket, “fat and cheesy” tacos, and even low-carb and keto options. Combos combine tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas, and Texas is represented by frito pie and a Texas toast sandwich. They also have easy online ordering for takeout.

4668 Cottage Grove Rd., 703 S. Gammon Rd. & 2161 Zeier Rd. (Inside Global Market & Food Hall)

ABARROTES EL PRIMO

Set in the back of a small Mexican grocery in downtown Sun Prairie, this taqueria has a few small tables, and during the weekend lunch hour, you’ll find a rush of faithful clients. Try the barbacoa or ribeye tacos, and the carnitas are excellent. Order at the counter, take a number, pay at the checkout up front.

105 E. Main St., Sun Prairie

LUPE’S TAQUERIA

Tucked in a suburban development, Lupe’s is a family-owned operation that does counter-service, made-to- order tacos, burritos and quesadillas. They also whip up excellent pork and chicken tamales. It has more spacious seating than a typical taqueria with some outside tables as well. Sip a margarita or beer in addition to horchata and soft drinks.

6719 Frank Lloyd Wright Ave., Middleton

TAQUERIA LOS ATLANTES

Find fresh tacos here in addition to burritos, chilaquiles, tortas, sopes and more. Meat selections include al pastor, chorizo and steak, but also lamb, tripe and beef tongue. Notably, they serve breakfast tacos and huevos rancheros. Customers can easily order online from their original Madison location on Raymond Road, or the Verona one.

300 S Main St. Ste. 103, Verona & 5706 Raymond Rd.

LA PLAYITA TACOS Y MARISCOS

When Migrants closed last May, this spot next to Bonfyre Grill off the Beltline opened up for La Playita. The name means “little beach” — so look for seafood dishes hailing from the states of the Pacific Coast region of Mexico, including ceviche, fried fish, soups, shrimp cocktail and molcajetes. They also serve a wide variety of central Mexico street tacos.

2601 W. Beltline Hwy. Ste. 106

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