Tucked into an ever-busy Campbell Avenue strip mall, its neighbors being a hair salon and a mini-postal shop, Taco Urbano could easily be missed. Cars fly by at a reckless pace. Few, if any, pedestrians are around. Competition is stiff on this long restaurant row. The only thing that brings attention to this tiny taqueria is a relatively small sandwich sign out front.
Yet people seemed to have discovered the place if our recent visits are any indication. Most of the tables (there really aren't a lot of them) were filled at lunch and there was a steady stream of take-out orders during both visits.
One reason, no doubt, are the prices. The daily specials are $6.95 that includes rice, beans, a drink and your choice of any burro or whatever the kitchen has deemed as the entrée of the day.
The day we were there that entrée was two chicken tacos (with options for a corn tortilla, flour tortilla, or a crispy shell). Our burro, which also has beans and cabbage stuffed inside, was carne asada. We also ordered a side of guacamole ($2.50) and chips ($2.00). People will complain that charging for chips is excessive, but for such a small business that small fee is smart and avoids a lot of wasted food.
The hostess/server/owner was attentive and upbeat. Folks were keeping her busy and she was also clearing the tables, running the cash register and answering the phone. None of it seemed to faze her.
The salsa bar had about six different salsas including a house specialty made with sour cream and pico de gallo – a nice little change. There is also plenty of the usual salsa bar stuff with the grilled chiles kept warm in a mini-crock pot.
The room is cozy and comfortable decked out in bright colors with a mish mash of artwork and collectables. The paintings seemed to be done locally with the exception of the large wooden hanging of a village.
The chips and guac were at the table in no time. The portion was perfect for two people (maybe even three). Thick and creamy with a slight punch, this guacamole was most satisfying.
Soon lunch was on the table.
The beans were creamy and thick with a hint of red color which I guess comes from a little bit of chili powder or cayenne.
The soft flour tortilla was packed with nicely grilled meat, a bit of beans and just the right amount of cabbage. The burro disappeared in no time.
There were no tacos left though. While chicken tacos can be pretty ordinary these stood out. The meat had been cut into chunks and then lightly grilled but there was also a light sauce puddled at the bottom. I honestly couldn't tell you what it was, but I liked it.
A few days later in a jumble of house repair we ran over and picked up a couple of breakfast burros: a bacon and egg burro ($3.65) with added potatoes (.75 cents) and a spinach, egg and cheese burro ($3.65). I couldn't pass up the pan dulce that had just arrived from a Southside bakery ($1.50).
Both burros were packed to the max with the various ingredients (the eggs were especially fluffy) and the addition of spinach was a nice touch. These weren't wow factor kind of burros, just delicious and satisfying.
Taco Urbano is a nice addition to the Campbell Avenue restaurant row. One might think that we have our fair share of taquerias but here the food is more home cooking than formulaic. The service is top-notch and caring. And while I wish they were open a little earlier, later and on weekends, I appreciate the fact that they're not. This gives the owners some time away from the pressures of owning a restaurant and the time to concentrate on offering some really great food and service.