El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant, Taunton

elmariachiEverybody’s talking about El Mariachi.

Their original restaurant in Taunton is always packed.  A newer outpost in Easton is bustling.  At the start of the new year, they opened a restaurant in Seekonk.  And in February, they’ll be opening on Main Street in Wareham.

“Everyone” includes the Big Dog’s little sister, who had told us about the Taunton location years ago. So it seemed fitting that when we went to the original for research purposes, she and her family would join us there.

The Big Dog and his brother-in-law each began with a Presidente margarita ($9.50), which they liked.  Sis ordered  a mojito ($6.75) when our server, Isabella, let her know that fresh mint was available, and it was delicious. Gina ordered a serviceable house cabernet ($5.25) and particularly liked the colorful glass, which was very thick.

While we reviewed the extensive menu, we augmented the complimentary chips and salsa with an order of guacamole ($8.50), made tableside in a stone pot and more than enough for the five of us. The chips arrive warm, with far less salt than any version that comes from a bag.

Niece Kaiya, who is in third grade and very knowledgeable about food, recommended the carne asada ($14.95).  Knowing that she was going to order it and would probably share, we made other choices, but this was definitely a good one.  After Kaiya carefully moved aside the scallion garnish, the strips of skirt steak were flavorful and tender.

Sis ordered the fish tacos: grilled cod wrapped in flour tortillas, accompanied by a do-it-yourself slaw, so you could add as much cabbage and dressing as you like, and a mound of white rice. This is probably the healthiest option on the El Mariachi menu.

Seeking the traditional Mexican restaurant experience, Gina opted for the combo plate which featured two choices ($13.75, including a dollar extra for sour cream) from among enchilada, burrito, chimichanga, chile relleno, tostada, tamale or taco, any of which can be filled with ground beef, shredded beef, shredded chicken, shredded pork or cheese. The cheese enchilada and shredded beef burrito were good choices.  Like most of the entrees, this came with yellow rice and refried beans on an enormous plate.

Brother-in-law enjoyed arroz con camarones ($15.75), a generous dish of shrimp tossed with vegetables in a red sauce.

The Big Dog choose pork carnitas ($13.95), which was the only slight misstep of the evening.  The pork was kind of dry, which would not have been noticeable had he wrapped it in the flour tortillas with accompanying red sauce and guacamole. But there was no evidence that assembly was required, and in any case, that would have taken away from the very good taste of the pork. He took home nearly half of the very large portion, and it was excellent from the food processor rolled into the tortilla with a little mayonnaise the next day for breakfast.

Kaiya talked us into trying the churros ($4.75), delicious little strips of fried dough served with fruit topped whipped cream, melted chocolate, and caramel for dipping.  They were a perfect end to a very good meal, and we look forward to Kaiya giving us guidance during future restaurant visits.

Our very attentive servers spoke with Mexican accents and dressed in festive clothing you associate with Mexico.  The decor in this storefront restaurant is warm and welcoming, with walls adorned with colorful Mexican artifacts.  A darker bar in the space next door, accessible from inside, looked like a great place to watch a football game.  While we were there, three people got the birthday treatment, which here involves singing and having an oversized sombrero placed on your head.

One warning for the budget-conscious: the portions here are big but not super-sized, and most of the prices we noticed are $1 to $2 more than what is shown on the on-line menu.

We understand the Lopez brothers, who own and operate the growing restaurant chain, are from Mexico, and seek to replicate an authentic Mexican dining experience.  We’ve never been to Mexico but we’ve been to Taunton, and we’re looking forward to an El Mariachi opening closer to home.

El Mariachi
44 Taunton Green, Taunton

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