Loosely translated (by Google Translator) as ‘Lord Nacho’ our expectations were quite high. A much more regal name than ‘Taco Bell’, Which has nothing to do with a real bell at all, other than just using the founder’s name last name (Glen Bell). Had the fast-food chain’s founder’s name been Kowalczyk instead I really don’t think we’d be running to that particular border quite as often.
I knew nothing of Senor Nacho, but Angel and Adam were aware of it since it sits next to the KFC we frequent and relish. It obviously used to be something else, a chain restaurant maybe, it had that style and general look to it. The signage was modest and the requisite Mexican beer neons were in place.
Not very busy, dark but neat on the inside, the dark red walls were decorated by scores of cheap sombreros and photos and murals of people wearing sombreros. Even the ceiling tiles were painted dark red. The tables were cheap, covered in a wood laminate of some kind. There were two kinds of chairs at the tables, light oak and cheap black tubular steel. Somebody went bargain shopping.
We were led to a booth by a tall Latino man who was closely followed by a small Latino teen boy. It appeared that this was a family run place which put points in the positive column. During quiet moments three or four of the staff sat relaxed near the front and exchanged quick and animated verbiage that I could not decipher. Their bantering seemed very much family-like. Our drinks were ordered, Tea, Diet Coke and Coke, and then the chips arrived. Three small bowls were provided, accompanied by a carafe of salsa. It took two-plus baskets of chips to get to the main courses.
The menu was bright, colorful and too big. Five or six pages of essentially the same things arranged in confounding combinations, it took us quite a while to make our selections. In the background music was playing, definitely south of the border music, some of it sounding like some sort of Mexican polka (complete with tuba-ish oom-pahs) and the rest a lot like narcocorridos.** Since I don’t exactly hablos the language ( I even had to look up ‘hablos’) I assumed they were narcocorridos which I recently learned about on NPR. They may have been love ballads, but I’m going for color here, not cold hard fact.
The chips were just a little thicker that I like them, but only just a little. The salsa was delightful; packing just enough heat to let you know this was indeed better quality stuff than you’ll get from those little packets at Taco Kowalczyk.
Angel finally decided on a dish called Tamale Deluxe, which Google translates into ‘Deluxe Tamale’. Adam built his own combo opting for two beef tacos and a chicken ‘chimichanga’, which I would translate for you except for the fact that it apparently means the same thing in Spanish as English and every other language I looked up, including Icelandic. (It’s a deep fried burrito.)
I did stupid again by ordering something called Anita’s Combo, which like our previous Mexican establishment visits included way too much of too many things.
The young man kept us in drinks and chips while we waited, and the wait was not very long.
Mine was delivered in two embarrassingly large plates, Angel and Adam’s single plates were piled high. The sauce and cheese oozed and spread out all over. We convinced Adam to actually try guacamole. It took some doing; I told him that I often didn’t even know I had some, the taste being so subtle. He took a taste, went pale, then almost wretched. He drank about a gallon of Coke to recover. Apparently I was mistaken about it being subtle. My taste buds haven’t really been the same since the overcooked Hot Pocket incident of 1997.
The ground beef in my, whatever it was, was way too salty, not unlike the tamales at La Pachanga. I couldn’t stomach more than half of that offering. Everything else was okay, but not awesome. Adam had to perform surgery on his taco to extract the offending ingredients, peppers, onions and such. Angel didn’t complain, but she, like Adam and myself, did not finish over half the meal.
Perhaps overt saltiness is normal or authentic for certain dishes, however I find it greatly off-putting. Other than the saltiness, there were not many distinct tastes in the various offerings between the burrito the taco, the enchilada and the tamale. The refried beans were pureed rather than rough mashed and the cheeses had barely any taste at all. I don’t even recall enchilada sauce, which is a shame. I usually love that stuff. I like pushing everything else into it. As Mexican food goes, this was a little bland and uninteresting.
The price was right, coming in very similar to Los Portales and La Pachanga at around thirty five dollars for the feast, including the tip. The food was okay, but only okay, and being as we have to drive right by Los Portales, where the food was much better and then nine more miles to get to it, I can’t see us returning often. If you happen to be in Desoto and are looking for some Mexican and in the mood for something quite a bit better than Taco Kowalczyk, then by all means, try it. I’d recommend a big shiny, fruity tequila drink to go with it to make it a little more palatable.
All in all I have to give Senor Nacho at least an eighty six since I gave La Pachanga an eighty five, I was really hoping for better.
* The Bacup Nutters Dance traditionally takes place on this day in the small Pennine, tin-mining town of Bacup. (Lancashire, England) Each year a team of folk-dancers with blackened faces dance through the town from boundary to boundary
** narcocorridos: Danceable ballads that recount tales of drug dealers and their exploits.