I Love New Mexico

About all things New Mexican

Posted by admin on January - 29 - 2011 | 5 Comments

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. 

Taco Sal's east dining room - looking like it did in 1965

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. 

My chile rellenos at Taco Sal - and the delicious sopaipillas that came with dinner!

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.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Linda Lovett says:

    My daughter and her family lived in Albuquerque and I lived in Logan, New Mexico a number of years ago. Many times when I would leave Logan in the morning and get to Albuquerque about 4 hours later, we would meet at Taco Sal’s for lunch. I can remember when her youngest son was still in a baby carrier when we met and he is now 13 years old. The food was always very good and the pleasant memories of being there with her and the boys linger in my mind. Thank you for helping to recall this time in my life. I enjoyed reading the history too.

    • admin says:

      Love that, Linda! One of the best things about a particular restaurant, other than the food (which I obviously love) is that there are so many great memories attached to the meals you shared there.

  2. Stephen Josephs says:

    Ooooh, you’re making me hungry. I lived in Espanola for a while. Now that I’m in California, I can’t get green chilis, beans, or sopapillas, like I found there. Wonderful blog!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comment! So sorry about your lack of amazing New Mexico food there – I totally feel your pain! Come home. . .

  3. Julie Brooks says:

    Wow! I used to live near Taco Sal and remember going in there and hearing the waitress say, “have a seat, hon!”. I’ve since moved to Colorado and my mom has moved west to Rio Rancho so we hardly ever get over to that part of town. Good to hear that Taco Sal is still there…might have to put it on our “to do” list for our next visit to NM!


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