Plaza Mariachi (Antioch)

The world needs a few more of these. Scratch that - a lot more of these.

 argentinian

argentinian

I wish I got a picture of the actual place. It's HUGE. Small shops, mexican market, and little knick knacks like the halls. It leads you into a eating, dancing, and party open area with a stage a larger than life television. Yeah. It's what your dreams are made of. Inside this area are a few dining options - I'll focus on two.

 wood fired grill 

wood fired grill 

Tres Gauchos is spot on. From the wood fired grill, to the plates they serve, they know what they are doing. We ended up ordering 2 different dishes. I would have ordered much more if I was not craving tacos so much. Let's focus on what I did end up eating.

This giant pile of meat and potatoes was a meal for 3. It was by far the highlight of the afternoon. The flavors were so robust and the smell of wood was prominent in the dish. The meat was definitely a cheaper cut, but that didn't take away from the flavor profile. One thing that this dish does is remind you of a meal that you would enjoy at a family party somewhere in Argentina. It takes you home. I would call it comfort food.

My last bit of Tres Gauchos was the cheese empanada. Now you have a few different empanadas out there. They are different based on the region you are ordering them from. Peruvians, Mexicans, and most Central and South American countries have savory empanadas that are typically baked. Argentinian, Uruguayan and a few others have the crunchy variation - fried. Now there is a battle between baking or frying it. Each has it's place but let's be honest, everything fried is better. These were not only crunchy, but the cheese was melted perfectly. Gives you that pull you only see on TV.

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Now Taqueria Hidalgo was your classic street tacos. Right in front you see the lady working on the taco masa, making sure those tortillas are authentic. The presentation is nothing to rave about but the tortillas are delicious. Depending on how busy it is and which one you order, you may run into one or two being a bit more dry than the others. My favorites by far were the Al Pastor and Carne Asada. 

I do want to finish by saying that Taqueria Hidalgo had an employee who was disinterested in my order and had a rude and mean countenance the entire time. He was acting like he did not want to be there and it really gave me a bad experience. Luckily, the lady in the back was kind enough to explain the process of the dishes. 

Out of the two, I would say to check out Tres Gauchos. Unique and flavorful. Also be sure to check out their website for events as they do have salsa dancing and parties quite frequently. 

Location: 3955 Nolensville Pk, Nashville TN 37211 USA

Website: https://plazamariachi.com/calendars

Bartaco (12th South)

What do I think of Bartaco? It's life-changing.

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bartaco

best tacos in nashville?

The human body is made mostly of water. Mine is made mostly of tacos. I could have a taco only diet and die a happy a man. You could literally do anything and everything with it. I have talked about this time and time again, but making a taco that resonates takes work, discipline and whole lot of love. Bartaco seems to nail it. Now I know what the haters will say - "the portions are so small!", "I have to spend so much money to get full". To them I say - "I don't care."

First of all, quit eating to get full. You are not running out of food tomorrow, and if you leave food on your plate, it's okay. If we all as a whole just ate a little less, we would be much healthier, and get to enjoy much better things. Needless to say, I am looking to host a Bartaco party. I want like 100 people to come with me so we can order 300 tacos or so. Imagine that picture. Heavenly.

 fresh chips and guacamole

fresh chips and guacamole

Went with my sister. She has introduced me to a couple solid places. Bartacos takes the trophy so far. Started with the Guacamole. You will be surprised how badly people can mess up Guacamole. I am dead serious. You would think a predominately 7 ingredient side dish would be easy to master. I guess not if I keep running into it. But Bartaco you are killing it, guys!

A few baked whole tortillas come and you get to crack it how you like. I went with the artistic way and used the back of spoon to smack the middle of it. Very anti-climactic result. Still delicious flavor. No need for extra salt. It was light enough to know the avocado was fresh, and dense enough to appreciate the art. I mean you guys know what I'm talking about right?
If you don't leave an avocado out exposed to air and then take a bite of it a few hours later. It takes a little like creamy iron. It oxidizes so fast. That is why it's essential to have fresh guacamole. That's as good as it's going to get, peeled right there and then. 

 interior was thoughtfully put together

interior was thoughtfully put together

We ordered a few tacos and some side dishes. One of the things that I reiterate in my articles is that of distinguishing features that separate the poor mexican restaurants to the great ones. I'll list them for you;
- Tortilla Chips
- Guacamole
- Salsa
- Elote

 Elote is a gift from the god's

Elote is a gift from the god's

That's it. It is that simple. Some bagged tortilla chips come out with El Paso salsa dip and you know you're in a chance encounter. At that point, it's a gamble. It could be some real divey place that just doesn't care about the chips, or it could be just garbage (message me if you want to know an example of that). 

If you order the Guacamole and it comes out with no flavor, you know to avoid anything with avocado in the name. 

If they have an option for salsa and chips as an appetizer, order it. If you get salsa, and the salsa is watered down tomatoes (tomatoes are already watery enough!), get out. They will end up putting that salsa on everything and ruin the entire experience. If you can't somehow make a quality salsa, you obviously don't care.

Lastly, the Elote. What is elote? It's Mexicos gift to the world. Steamed corn (often times boiled), then Chargrilled (sometimes still the stalk on it), some sort of butter/mayo base, ancho chile powder (or a variation of spices), cotija cheese and a touch of cilantro if wanted. It's a street food. You can find this in Mexico for $.50. It's cheap and so good. 
Ain't so cheap here but that $3-$4 price tag is worth it. If you see those grilled marks (sometimes a burnt kernal here and there), and that fresh cotija cheese on top you are walking into a fine establishment.

 a collection of tacos

a collection of tacos

If you are reading this Bartaco, I want you to know that you won in ALL of the categories. I just knew it was going to be good - and when the server saw me using a knife to cut the kernals off the cob, he even offered and brought me a bowl of the elote off the cob (which is called esquites if you'd like to know). Shout out to the man for fulfilling my dreams.

 lamb tacos (secret menu)

lamb tacos (secret menu)

Now on to the tacos. What makes a good taco? It's what's in it and around it. Of course. At the heart of it all, lies the tortilla. You can ruin a taco with a horrific tortilla experience. Bartaco knows this and dishes out some quality things. We ordered 5 different tacos. Duck, Mushroom, Carne, Lamb (secret taco) and Kimchi. All great but at the top for me was the Duck. My sister obsessed over the mushroom. Two of them are wrapped in lettuce which is an option for you gluten-free people!

I already feel like this review is longer than most so if you take anything away from this, it is this - Bartaco is hands down the best taco experience. Word to the wise, if you are a big eater, order a few bigger sides and you'll be set. 

Highly recommend!

Location: 2526 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204

El Jaliciense (East Nashville)

By now you may be wondering - "Why is this dude always in East Nashville?" - I live here. Now let's look at some tacos.

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el jalicience

 

it's pretty mexican

We all know that Mexican food is God's gift to this part of the world. We all eat it. We all like something about it. It can range from tacos to enchiladas, and from carne asada to a classic mole. It has it all. If you ever get the chance, get down to Mexico and experience the food (especially the fruits) - it is incredible. Needless to say, I am ALWAYS down for a classic Mexican place. El Jalicience has become my go to.

 a little indoor decor

a little indoor decor

As you come in you are greeted with a kind of bland entrance. Nothing neat about it. It's just really simple. The three times I came in I was left wanting to listen to what the kitchen was jamming out to. They had the right idea. On the dining room floor, it was music-less and the TV was playing some novela - could do better on the feel. But this isn't an interior design blog - it's a food blog. 

 the famous ceviche tostada (famous based on yelp)

the famous ceviche tostada (famous based on yelp)

Ignore the chips on the left. They are awful. I just don't understand how hard it is to get good chips. I mean, all you have to do it make a tortilla (easy), cut it into triangles (easier), and fry it (easiest). Boom. Quality chips. Same price. 

But the main act is the Ceviche Tostada. I mean this thing is big. Like REALLY BIG. Like "wait, I only paid $3.99 for this. Why is this the size of my head?". Grant it, it isn't the freshest Ceviche out there. It's obviously that seafood mix that you avoid at the grocery store, yet, it's really good. The avocado is fresh (shocking) and the tostada has the perfect amount of spice. I was honestly shocked at how good this tostada was for $3.99. That's the kicker. The price reflects the quality. I would rather get this than a crunchwrap supreme anyday!

 side view 

side view 

That is a meal in itself. Piled high. I made the mistake of thinking it was small. Not at all. You have been warned. Of course, no Mexican place is complete without some grilled 'carne'. 

 bistec ranchero

bistec ranchero

It's amazing. It's easy as that. I really don't have to write more about it. The cheap cut of meat was cooked perfectly that it had SO much flavor in every bite. The grilled onions, tomatoes, and jalapeños were the blend that you're little make-shift taco needed (side note: the peppers I have had both times I was there had the flavor but not the spice you would expect!). 

But unfortunately, all good thing's have to come to an end. The tortillas - nuked in the micro. The rice - in a warmer so it comes out dry. The beans - kept warm all day that they get dry and flavorless. To be honest, I just avoided that side of the dish and still felt great about the meal. Perhaps they would let you sub those for some sour cream, guacamole and some lettuce. I wonder if I asked them to grill the tortillas instead of microwave they would do it. That would be a game changer!

 tostada

tostada

Let me know if you have any luck with the switch-a-roos.

Location: 3225 Gallatin Pike, Nashville, TN 37216