Cheap Eats of the Month: El Tacoqueto, Family-run by Don Filadelfo and Doña Elsa, is somewhat of an institution in Tulum, feeding hungry bellies for 20 years now.
Although the main street of Tulum is rapidly filling up with hip, alternative restaurants and trendy cafes, there are still a few authentic Mexican establishments holding their ground
Photos by Deike Alexa
Although the main street of Tulum is rapidly filling up with hip, alternative restaurants and trendy cafes, there are still a few authentic Mexican establishments holding their ground. El Tacoqueto is one of them. Family-run by Don Filadelfo and Doña Elsa, it is somewhat of an institution in Tulum, feeding hungry bellies for 20 years now.
Walls adorned with vibrant murals, the colorful restaurant is a hive of activity. Upon entering, you are swiftly guided to the busy open kitchen where efficient staff rhyme off the day’s menu for you. Printed menus don’t exist here, but neither do surprises; if you don’t speak enough Spanish to understand, then simply take a look. Lids are removed from pots, and all you have to do is point at whatever simmering specialties take your fancy. This is a touch I love. It feels like being invited into abuela’s kitchen and whets your appetite for homemade food. They also have dishes ‘to be prepared’ upon ordering, such as grilled chicken, but why ruin the fun of inspired pot luck?
The restaurant was mostly filled with locals on their lunch break or in with family, which is always a good sign. We ordered chile relleno (battered poblano chile stuffed with cheese in a tomato sauce) and albondigas (meatballs in chipotle sauce), both served as swiftly as our order taken.
IT'S CHILE TODAY
Chile relleno is possibly my favourite Mexican dish (it ties with birria). I eat it at every opportunity I get, so I’m a tough critic. El Tacoqueto’s generous portion of the chile itself was cooked perfectly, tender yet maintaining its plump, tempting form, with plenty of nicely melted salty cheese oozing out. The batter was light and satisfying. The only let-down was the over-salted tomato sauce that masked the flavors. Not to worry, I compensated for this by instead adding some of the homemade salsas on our table. One was spicy red tomato, fresh and piquant. The other was green habanero with extra lime - just delicious. This habanero sauce goes down in the books for me and I’ll be recreating it at home with all that extra limey freshness.
DEM ARE SOME NICE BALLS
Meatballs, on the other hand, are something I rarely eat out because I’m often disappointed. These were simply pork - tender and moist without any extra herbs or spices. The accompanying chipotle sauce did that job. Less salty than my own sauce, it was thick and lightly smoky from the fresh chipotle served in it. I couldn’t resist adding more of those fresh spicy salsas on the side though, and they really lifted the whole dish.
Both dishes were served with rice, beans and tortillas, not handmade, but decent quality which is worth mentioning. There’s nothing worse than a flimsy tortilla! Washed down with a fresh, sweet, fruity pineapple water, I’d call this a comforting, satisfying lunch and a nice experience to boot - all for $160 ($8 USD) - on Tulum’s main street. Yip - a steal and a rarity, I know.
Take your own peek inside the pots of El Tacoqueto on Av. Tulum, between Acuario & Jupiter Sur, Tulum Centre. Open every day from 8 am - 9pm, their prices range from $80-$150 pesos.
Tulum Eats Magazine is published 12 times a year, unless we decide to go on prolonged vacations. You can find the print magazine at select locations throughout the Riviera Maya, and in some East Coast establishments, where we will randomly place, during selective times. The website will be updated monthly, with selected materials that may or may not be the same as the print version. Look for us soon, in other states of Mexico.