I had lunch at Taco Sal on Thursday, and it made me really happy to be there. It’s just down the street from where I used to work at the Mickey Barnett Law Firm – we spent many lunch hours here, curing our Caravan hangovers with a Taco Sal bowl of green chile with beans and meat. I ate tons of tacos with the girls from the office here, and we frequently loaded up with extra chips and salsa so that we’d have a snack for our afternoon break.
I was thrilled to find it still there – on the corner of Menaul and Wyoming in a strip mall next to the comic book store, just down the sidewalk from the nail salon where I once (but only once) paid someone to give me fake nails (I nearly put little Johanna’s eye out with my long nails. . .I’m too klutzy for them).
Taco Sal (www.tacosal.com, 9621 Menaul NE, 505-298-2210) is an institution left over from the old days – established in 1960, still in the northeast heights, still decorated in the vinyl chair, vinyl tablecloth, tile floor look of the year it opened. It’s still 1960 spotlessly clean. And the food is still consistently good.
I had the chile rellenos and ordered a side of guacamole – all delicious, not expensive, with good but unobtrusive service. All made fresh on site, they say, by New Mexicans who know how to cook. You always get a basket of sopaipillas with your meal – no exceptions. (I’m thinking this should be a requirement of every restaurant in the world.)
I paid out behind a couple who looked to be in their 80’s – they’ve been coming to Taco Sal since 1965, they say. They live just around the corner. That’s the kind of place it is. . . if you live or work in that section of the heights, you know Taco Sal. If you like decent food in a very easy-going atmosphere, you know Taco Sal. Heck, if you watch Breaking Bad, you might know Taco Sal. I think they’ve filmed some scenes here. They were filming across the street at the original Octopus Car Wash the day I was there.
By the way, Taco Sal won the designation of having “Albuquerque’s Best Tamales” from the Albuquerque Journal’s Venue. I’m not a big tamale fan, but if you are, visit Taco Sal, try them and then let me know what you think. The name comes from Salli, the original owner – she used to greet us all with a “Hi, Doll. . .” every time we came through the door. She’s not there anymore, but I have no complaints with the folks who own it now – one of them took my money while the other asked me how my day was going. On site and making sure Taco Sal stays as friendly as ever – that’s one way to run an eating joint. A good way.
Venture up to the heights and have a meal at Taco Sal. You’ll like it, I’m pretty sure. You don’t have to dress up, and you don’t have to take a pile of money. Sure makes me happy to eat there.