Saturday night we decided that we were going to go downtown to eat and then pick up groceries at Greenlife after. Our first thought was to go to The Terminal, but because it was Saturday evening we weren’t too sure how long we’d end up waiting if we went to a more “bar-ish” restaurant. We tossed around a couple of ideas and then Philip suggested Taco Mamacita. I had been once, and, to be honest, was not bowled over that first time. Not that there was anything bad, I just wasn’t dying to go back. Since Philip hadn’t been, though, I was willing to give it another try-and I’m glad I did.
We got there pretty early-around 5:30 or so-so we didn’t have to wait at all. We walked right in and got seated, and our server came over immediately, took our drink orders (two waters, of course), and talked to us about the menu. I had tried their chips and salsa the first time I was there, so we ordered chips and queso. They came out very quickly. The chips were hot and fresh, and the cheese sauce was very similar to what you get in more “traditional” Mexican restaurants, but a thicker with a little more complexity to the flavor (look at me throwing out all the fancy terms!). Still, pretty much standard queso-which is not a bad thing.
Our server went over the menu with us really quickly when she took our drink orders. She recommended that if we were really hungry we would probably want to get a salad or enchiladas, which are both a full meal. Philip’s ears perked when she pointed out the brisket rancheros enchiladas (I believe I have mentioned that he has a thing for brisket) but in the end we both decided that the name of the restaurant isTACO Mamacita, so we wanted to get the namesake. We each ordered the two tacos and a side meal.
I decided on the Oy Vey (slow-cooked chipotle beef brisket, topped with ranchero sauce, crispy lettuce, pico de gallo, monterey jack cheese, guacamole, and fresh escabeche), the black bean taco (housemade black bean cake topped with crema, crispy lettuce, pico de gallo, monterey jack cheese, guacamole, and fresh escabeche), and Mexican street corn (off the cob). Philip decided on the Memphis (slow-braised pork, diced white onion, chopped dill pickle, jalapeno corn slaw, dry rub seasoning, and barbecue sauce) and the Taco Royale (double-stacked taco-yes, as in double decker a la Taco Bell-with roasted chicken, salsa verde, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, crumbled chorizo, black bean mash, and chipotle cream sauce) with churros beans, which our server described as beans in a vinaigrette. Those four tacos really just scratched the surface-Taco Mamacita offers fourteen different tacos!
As I mentioned before, I wasn’t totally sold on my first try here. I guess I ordered the wrong thing! My tacos were really, really great today. The chipotle in the brisket gave a really nice smoky flavor, and all the different flavors and textures really worked together. I wasn’t too sure about a “black bean cake” on a taco, but the server recommended it (she pointed out that the shrimp po’boy BLT taco I was contemplating was “pretty fattening.” She clearly doesn’t know me!) and I was willing to give it a try. I wasn’t sad that I did! It was like a great black bean burger, but on a taco. The corn was really good, too….but it was corn. No big news there. Philip’s “Memphis” taco was simply fantastic. I will definitely order it when I go back. It had all the classic barbecue flavors, and the dill pickle really set off the flavor. I didn’t try the Taco Royale, but Philip said that it was really good. The charros beans were very interesting-I’ve never had beans in vinaigrette before. Tasty!
By the way, Taco Mamacita serves their tacos on flour tortillas. I really prefer corn, but I guess with all the toppings flour tortillas hold together a lot better (corn tortillas fall apart if you look at them too hard!). I was hoping that they were housemade, but my server checked and told me that they buy them. However, she did point out when she was going over the menu with us that everything is made fresh to order, so if you want them to leave something off (or add something, I presume) they’ll be happy to do so.
I always feel like I should at least mention atmosphere, and with a lot of small local restaurants I feel bad because I am always trying to gloss over the lack of decor. I don’t feel like it’s necessary to judge a restaurant on its appearance, but Taco Mama definitely has atmosphere. It’s brightly (but not eye-jarringly) decorated with large pictures on the wall, decorative tabletops, and pendant light fixtures. There’s also a patio so you can eat outside if you like, but it was so hot that we did not think that was a good idea! There were families with children there, so I think it’s safe to say that it’s a family-friendly atmosphere (the toddler sitting at the table next to us apparently enjoyed his/her food, as it was all over the floor!).
If you are in the mood for Mexican food with an interesting twist, I’d definitely recommend that you try Taco Mamacita. They are located at 109 North Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37405 (the old Durty Nelly’s location). They can be reached at 423-648-6262. Check out their website or Facebook page.