Not surprisingly, good Mexican food is one of the hardest things to find in Taipei. After growing up in Los Angeles and learning to cook authentic Mexican food at an early age, I’ve become quite picky on what I will eat and obviously recommend. I am thrilled to recommend a new taco joint in town that’s doing it right — Macho Tacos. Their simple menu allows them to focus on maintaining quality ingredients while providing Taipei residents with a taste of what real Mexican tacos should taste like!
Previously, we had two “ok” options in Taipei — El Gallo (had the best passion fruit margaritas) and Yuma, which served Southwest style Mexican food (not really a fan of Tex-Mex & Southwest, but it was a decent place to grab some nachos and a margarita with friends). In the last few months, both of these restaurants closed their doors, leaving many Taipei expats searching for something new.
In December, we heard about a new taco place in town called Macho Tacos. We’ve been traveling since January so I was anxious to try them out once we got back to Taipei. We stopped in this past Sunday, our first weekend back and one of the nicest days we’ve had in Taipei in months! Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who had this idea as they were packed. We’d been warned this place was very tiny & seating was next to nothing — heed the warning! It is definitely more of a take out type place, something that doesn’t work so great when you live 30 minutes away by taxi.
Macho Tacos has a similar style to Baja Fresh back in the US (the Fresh Mex) with its use of fresh ingredients, light flavors, and chunky salsas, typical of Baja style Mexican food. The menu at Macho Tacos is pretty simple — burritos, tacos, nachos, and quesadillas. Choose from carne asada (steak), carnitas (pork), pollo asado (chicken), or even something you won’t find at your average Mexican taco stand…tofu. Something else that caught my eye was the fish tacos on the menu.
Prices are quite reasonable, like any three regular crisp or soft tacos for NT $160 or the fish tacos (that only come in an order of three) for NT $170. Although these prices reflect an increase from less than a month ago, they are still quite reasonable for “western” style food here in the city.
While we were waiting with the small mob for our order to come up, I noticed the crowd was entirely made up of English speakers (mostly expats I am assuming), with many of them probably 18-22 years old. Why is that important? Well, that translated into ZERO turnover on the only 5 tables they had in the back. Several of the groups were immediately aware of the incoming customers who were hoping to eat in, and although they were done eating, they found it humorous to keep the tables occupied so no one could sit — not even the very pregnant woman trying to find a table. Ultimately, we lucked out by snagging the stools out front so we weren’t trying to stand out in the street and eat! Just a note: Not one of the groups had cleared out from the inside tables even after 45 minutes when we were done and ready to leave.
I went for the three taco special with a crispy chicken, soft carnitas, and soft carne asada and Brett ordered the three fish taco special. Since this was our main meal for the day, we got an order of carne asada nachos as well. Soda refills are free (something else rather uncommon in Taiwan).
My tacos were quite tasty, including the carnitas, which I am most picky about. I hate soggy carnitas that just taste of grease. I like carnitas that have some spice, a little crisp, and actually taste like pork! The only negative I can say is they need to put two tortillas on the soft tacos as they break apart too easily. I managed to snag a bite of Brett’s fish tacos and no doubt, I will be ordering those next time. I’ve actually been craving them since we left! The fish was nice and crisp, and reminded me of my favorite batter on fish & chips at an English pub back home.
The nachos were a decent size — definitely a portion to share if you are ordering other food. I was a tad bit sad to see the “squirt bottle” guacamole…it’s more of a green crema versus guacamole. Given the difficulty in finding avocados here and their high prices (we’ve paid over $3 US pr avocado at the store before), I can’t fault Macho Tacos for going with a cheaper alternative to ensure they always have it on the menu.
Besides the burritos and burrito bowls, other menu items I’m interested in trying include the rice and beans. Rice and beans are two of the hardest things for many Mexican places to get right. If you find decent rice and beans, it’s a good sign the food might be pretty authentic. Choose from refried or black beans, and Mexican style or cilantro lime rice. Macho Tacos also has horchata on the menu — a must for any good taqueria!
I’m not sure if their salsas alternate, but we had a choice of three on Sunday — a pico de gallo type salsa (mild), corn salsa (mild-med), and a third that reminded me of a coleslaw salsa (mild). For those wanting to crank up the heat, they have bottles of hot sauce. Or, you can add jalapenos for NT $10 or get an entire side of them for NT $30. All the salsas were freshly made and had a good mix of flavor and heat. No green salsa though – bummer!
Macho Tacos is located in the Dong Qu area, a part of downtown Taipei known for an endless array of restaurants featuring everything from Sichuan to hamburgers. The closest MRT stop is Zhongxiao Dunhua on the blue line. They are open for both lunch and dinner (with a three hour closed period in the mid afternoon). NOTE: Cash only.
Hours: Open: Monday to Saturdays from noon to 3pm and 6:30pm to 10pm, Sundays from noon to 3pm, 6:30pm to 9pm Note: They are closed on Tuesdays in March (not sure if this will extend into April or not)