I think it would be presumptuous of me to assume that the majority of the people who happen upon this little love of mine have no idea about Taquería Del Sol. In that spirit, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this little chain of taco bars (aka taquerías) is the darling of Atlanta’s Mexican restaurant scene. For better or worse, TdS seems to roll off a number of tongues when the conversation turns to “What Mexican restaurant do we want to eat at?”
With four locations locations, a strong following, and more visits under my belt than I could possibly remember, it was only a matter of time before I felt the need to drop some lyrics on my fellow foodie groupies. However, given the circumstances, most notably my lack of free time right now, I thought it might be nice to just hit ya’ll with some pretty little pictures and a few notes.
As noted, TdS has expanded to four total locations. Three are located around the city of Atlanta and the fourth is a lonesome dove up Highway 316 in Athens. I’ve been to all four at least two times and I’ve come to the conclusion that they are relatively interchangeable. Ordering takes place at the register and usually comes with a significant line anytime you visit during and around “normal” eating hours. You then fight for a spot at one of the shiny tables in the bright lights of white and blue sub-text. Soon thereafter, food is delivered to the table with machine like efficiency. I still don’t know how they figure out which order belongs to which table … it’s a highly guarded secret.
The short of the long is that they are often identified for their “Soup Nazi-esc attitude” and loved for their cuisine. Often mistaken for an authentic taquería (but not quite full on Tex-Mex either), TdS serves up modified authentic tacos, a handful of enchiladas, and a few other knick knacks. I tend to find the claims of a gruff staff to be somewhat off base (though there are a few notable exceptions), and the claims of fantastic food to be a bit of a stretch.
Though the wait to order is usually long, sometimes stretching upwards of 45-minutes, the short order service seems pretty proficient to me. Though the taste of the food can fluctuate a small bit, it usually settles in somewhere in the “comfortably above average” range. All the while, it never dips below acceptable and never really moves upwards of transcendent. And with that, sip back on a fairly mundane margarita and bring on the picturas! For the record, these pictures are from a meal at the
West End Westside [Thanks FM] location. The meal was fairly indicative of the typical experience.
The guacamole usually seems to lack the real acidic punch of lime juice and cilantro that I so often crave. This rendition was par for the course … not bad … but a little too bland to really jive my hive.
The enchiladas may be my favorite item on the menu if for no other reason than the consistency of the preparation. However, the suffocating amount of sauce, be it beef red chili, pork green chili or lemon cream, usually makes it prohibitively difficult to appreciate the innards, in the form of cheese, beef brisket, refried beans, roasted chicken. None of the sauces are award winning, however, they each show up in the ballpark with regards to the flavor profile you probably expect. Nothing great, but nothing bad.
The tacos are what TdS is known for. As is the case with the rotating specials and the enchiladas, the proteins are almost always well cooked. While I find the marinades, batters, and bases utilized to be a little on the safe side, main attraction is usually moist and soft. Such was the case with my fried chicken taco (my favorite of the tacos) and the twice cooked pork of my carnita taco.
Last but not least, the group decided to take down a few of the lauded chile rellenos. These annual attractions show up for a few weeks just about this time. To my befuddlement, TdS’ take on the classic is craved like no other. Being roughly two-years since my last dance with these deep fried New Mexico green chiles, I wasn’t sure if they would be as monstrous as they were way back when. I asked the gentleman taking our orders and he said they were the size of egg rolls. I don’t know what country he’s from, or in what language the term “egg roll” translates to massively phallic piece of deep fried cholesterol, but these my friends are hung like Mandingo (a NSFW reference b.t.w.).
Once we got past the schizoid like description, the gang settled in for a few bites. True to form, the rellenos were fine … but nowhere near destination worthy. The white queso inside was intense, expected, and certainly reasonable. The batter, however, lacked any real personality, and was ultimately too thick given the level of spice found in the peppers. A bite generally translated to a gooey mash sprinkled with a good bit of crunchy chunks.
While a few of my dinner compadres suffered through the spice (served them right for the hell they gave me during dinner), I found the kick from the rellenos to be just slightly past mild. Again, I could probably swallow spice incarnate if given the chance … so you may want to take the cue from my crap giving dinner dates friends. Last but not least, the salsa frita had an eerie resemblance to an Italian tomato sauce. That said, it was appropriately dolled out and successfully played the part of supporting flavor in a major meal.
Still, for all that I’ve said – I think I’m simply saying that TdS is all fine and well, but it just doesn’t quite live up to the hype. If you don’t mind the wait, then you’ll find the price just right, the food capable, and the trip a lot of fun. Before I hit the town, I’ll leave you with a nice little note of fringe info: there are always vegetarian options on the menu. A nice move by the gang at TdS.
In classic Buddha style, the gang wishes you nothing but peace!
Atlanta Foodies On Taquería Del Sol
- Amy on Food on Taquería Del Sol (05.01.2009)
- First Bite on Taquería Del Sol (04.04.2009)
Taquería Del Sol (Westside) Restaurant Address & Information
1200 Howell Mill Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 // 404.352.5811 // Taquería Del Sol website // Taquería Del Sol menu
Alternative TdS Locations
2165 Cheshire Bridge, Atlanta, GA 30324 // 404.321.1118
359 W. Ponce De Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030 // 404.377.7668
334 Prince Ave, Athens, GA 30601 // 706.353.3890
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