Taco N Madre - Ocala YUM!
My husband and I have come to Ocala to attend my grandfather's funeral and we are only staying two nights. The first night we ate at Harry's the chain seafood place (it was decent). When we were going back to HoJo's my husband spotted a place with a taqueria sign that said they have tacos and burritos. We decided for dinner tonight we'd go there, see how we felt about it, and stay to have some dinner if it seemed ok. First a couple of disclaimers. We are not experts in what constitutes "authentic" Mexican. We have had some great Mexican food, some that seemed authentic based on the various Mexican cookbooks we've bought. We've had a lot of bad Mexican food. We know Taco Bell is not Mexican food. We are, however, very much not Mexican or Latin or Central American or anything like that. I'm not an authority, I am just very fond of Mexican food. :)
The cooler behind the counter was full of Mexican sodas. It was clean (albeit shabby, but very clean), and smelled nice. So we stayed. When we got seated and opened our menus, my husband's had a sticker with a hand written note, in Spanish, that said "hay tacos de cabeza y carnitas". Mine didn't have that note. ;D Also, the menu had everything in Spanish, with the English translation for most things was like an afterthought. There were a few things that didn't have English translations at all.
My husband ordered their "king burrito" with steak and a taco with carnitas. I ordered the three tacos dinner, which came with rice and beans (I wanted to try the rice and beans). I got a carnitas, a steak, and a tongue taco for my three tacos. We also ordered guacamole and crema on the side (because we very much like them). He had a fountain soda and I ordered a limon Mexican soda. I ordered first and I confirmed they had carnitas, and asked if I could get that in a taco. The waitress looked dubious and said "Are you sure? It's fried pork with skin and things in it..." and I nodded enthusiastically and said "Oh yes" then I ordered the steak and then the tongue taco.
It was so good. We can't get really great Mexican food in Vermont, so it's always a delight to find some good food when we're traveling. The beans and rice that came with my dinner were nothing to write home about. They weren't bad, just not great. I only really ordered them to see what they were like. I filled up on the tacos. The meat in all three was tender and flavorful. They were served simply with chopped onion (and in the case of the carnitas with cilantro, though I opted out of it, my husband said it was fine). The guacamole was clearly very freshly made, very bright green, and wonderful. The crema was everything I'd expected, as well. The tacos didn't really need either, they were fantastic on their own, but we so seldom get good crema and guacamole (unless we make it) that we had to add it. She served us a red and a green sauce in squirt bottles but we didn't use them, the tacos totally didn't need it. :)
The total bill for the both of us with the drinks was $24. The service was prompt and friendly. It was definitely a hole-in-the-wall sort of place you might not look at twice, but do yourself a favor, and stop. You don't go there for the ambiance, and the high rating was for the food and the price. :) This was a great value.
Taco N Madre
80 NW Pine Ave, Ocala, FL 34475
Having lived in California and Oregon for many years - we know an authentic taqueria when we taste it and Taco 'N Madre is The Real Deal! We are currently living in Europe, where real Mexican food is pretty much non-existent so when we come back during the holidays to visit family, Taco 'N Madre is one of our very first chow stops. Most of the clientele are Mexican (usually a very good sign!) and the waitresses are all very friendly and efficient. Our favorite meal is the 3 Tacos with rice and beans. There are a number of choices for tacos but our favs are Barbacoa and Carnitas Tacos topped with fresh cilantro and onion (they ask if you want this) and a squirt of both the red and green taco sauces (homemade I presume, really tasty) provided at the table. Add an order of fresh guacamole with chips and the Jarritos soda of your choice and you've got yourself a great meal.
The restaurant may not look like much but if you like authentic Mexican, give this taqueria a try. It's close to downtown, inexpensive and absolutely delicious!
Taco N Madre
80 NW Pine Ave, Ocala, FL 34475