El Mercado

El Mercado uses the slogan “World peace through Tex-Mex,” and we regularly do our part by stopping in. Over the years different locations of the mini Tex-Mex chain have come and gone—the original on South 1st opened in 1985 and is still kickin—and we like the one on Burnet Road in Allandale. Looking like something out of The Simpsons, the interior design is a trip, a flamboyant blend of 1980s bright colors and murals, with both neon parrots and clouds. Service is straight and to the point, and the clientele mainly consists of regulars who know what they want and never need a menu.

The food is solid, with textbook renditions of classics like queso, crispy tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas that come out blazing hot. While you should probably skip the smoked brisket which sometimes come out a little dry, definitely get the Pastor Poncho Nachos—they’re composed nachos that are topped with beans, al pastor pork, pineapple, and cheese. It’s al pastor, but make it nachos, and it really works.

El Mercado review image

photo credit: Raphael Brion

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