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Jun 2, 2013 10:50 AM

Very solid taco find Manassas - fo real - El Molino

Got a tip from a coworker and was in M yesterday so I went by.

My one claim to fame on CH is TECC, which I posted about when they were simply El Charro, with Jose and his Dad in the wagon across from Ft. Myer. El Molino rivals if not surpasses TECC, though it's a different style, so, there's that.

Small place but with a good double handful of tables. I sat at one of about two stools DIRECTLY across from the grill where the women were slaving over the hot grill on a hot day. Any AC was lost to the outside due to the never-ending lines. I was the only non-hispanic the whole time I was there, btw.

They have a few other things on the menu but I was told to stick to tacos only, which I did. Inside secret on ordering comes later...

Next thing to mention is that they make their own tortillas there, with the press directly behind where you place your order. They sell them fresh to go as well. And to tell you again how busy the place is, the grill person for tortillas just kept her part of the grill full, with no regard to orders coming in. What they do with the extras is to turn them into tortilla chips served communally near the register where you take a few with some tongs, put them on a plate, and go back to your seat.

The tortillas are about the size of silver dollar pancakes, so the tacos are slightly small and the chips slightly large. White corn. The tacos are made with two of these, slightly offset, with radish, cilantro and onion. There's a tiny little toppings bar with two red and one green salsa that are slightly warmed. Also, more radish, cilantro, onion and....beets. I think that's what they were, anyway (not much of a beet fan, and I wanted to get the straight dope first time out).

So, onto the main show (secret still to come). I got 2 barbacoa and 3 al pastor tacos. I think they cook everything on the grill, and it seems that they may ever-so-slightly pre-cook some or all meats (probably due to the demand). The barbacoa was awesome. Perfect amount of fat and elasticity making it juicy with a nicely seared exterior. Good size chunks. I have to make a stretch to say the only thing that was sub-par was that the al pastor was diced very small, but it still did retain flavor - just not as much as the barbacoa. Lengua, pollo, carne and carnitas were other offerings. No chorizo, and this is one place where the pollo may actually be something I'd like (since they at least finish it on the grill).

So, if you walk in and refer to the menu above the register, most tacos are priced at $2. Some a bit more. I was told to ask for the "cinco taco especial". The two meats I chose were both priced at the $2/taco level. Well, the special then re-prices them at $1 each. 5 tacos for $5. And there isn't skimping, there was meat that couldn't fit into each taco AND the toppings provided were more than could fit into the tacos as well.

I tried one red sauce (presumably the hot b/c it was) and the green, which was also spicy. The other red looked the same as the first, but I didn't try it either way.

I'd still be hard pressed to drive to Manassas just for this, but heck if I'm ever near there or even passing by on 66 during operating hours, this is a place I'm sure to stop at.

Did a search on the board and couldn't find anything, but if anyone else has experience with the place I'm all ears. And of course, there are so many other places in Manassas, though many are very honest in advertising that they are Salvadorean.

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  1. Great review...definitely will check it out!

    1. Oh, stop tormenting me and tell me the address. DS lives in Bristow, I leave Saturday for high school graduation festivities and this sound heavenly. My DIL's sister is also a real foodie and this would be a great find.


      2 Replies
      1. re: lemons

        8456 Centreville Rd, Manassas Park, VA 20111

        Green awning strip mall, to the far right as you face the mall from the parking lot.

        1. re: Dennis S

          Bingo. I know that stretch of road! Thanks much!

      2. I also had El Molino's barbacoa tacos and very much enjoyed them.

        Manassas has some really good Mexican gems. I also enjoyed Taquería Tres Reyes. El Molino has the kind of barbacoa I am used to in my part of Texas, which is made of beef cheek. Taquería Tres Reyes does goat barbacoa, but it is also excellent. Between the two places, I actually preferred Taquería Tres Reyes.

        I also got a pound of barbacoa from La Mexicana Bakery (no relation to the one in Arlington) and it was very good (comes with tortillas and sauces, she made really great salsa roja) and it was also beef cheek. She has good panes too but she doesn't have any fried items like churros, etc. Her barbacoa-by-the-pound has to be re-heated at home, as do her tamales. I didn't try the tamales cuz they are made with lard, which I don't eat, but just in case any of you are interested.

        So, just some other places to keep in mind when in Manassas. There are actually a lot of MX places (not operated by Salvadorans) there in Manassas that I mean to explore more eventually.

        1. Thanks - sounds wonderful!

          1. Went here again today. Really great food. I had the taco de lengua and the taco de barbacoa. Both were superbly tender, unctuous, and well salted. The red salsa was really good. The green salsa was a little watery, but no matter. I took home a pound of barbacoa for the family and my daughter was like, "Mama, can we go on the plane to Texas tomorrow?" because the flavor reminded her of home. I sometimes spend time wishing I lived back in Texas because I miss the food in my neighborhood, but now I just wish I lived closer to Tortillería El Molino. :)