I want to be a table crumber when I grow up.

Cincinnati Bites
Bibimbap from The Korea House

Posted Sunday, April 30, 2017

Let's face facts: Cincinnati needs another taqueria like a hole in the head. Still, there's something to be said for having a good one in your own back yard rather than having to travel to Newport, Over-the-Rhine, Fairfield or Madisonville. Taqueria San Marcos, which is tucked on a corner of a mostly residential swatch of Carthage Ave. in Norwood, fits that bill.

The small, drab-white, unassuming facade belies the fun, fire engine-red 50's diner theme awaiting inside. Upon the suggestion of fellow area food blogger Heather (aka "The Food Hussy,"), we stopped by to give them a try.

San Marcos' dining room is small, showcasing about four or five booths and bar seating. There was evidence that they may be expanding soon. We sat down and perused a very comprehensive menu that, in addition to tacos, includes full dinner plates, tortas, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas and more. The menu is quite meat-centric: there are only a few vegetarian options here but they are available.

huge torta Chicken torta: gigantic and amazing bread

My girlfriend chose the chicken torta, a Mexican sandwich filled with refried beans, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, avocado and mayo stuffed inside a very impressively light and fluffy "Mexican bun." I focused on the list of tacos, whose available fillings included most of the usual suspects like al pastor, chicken, barbacoa, carnitas, tongue, tripe and fish, But there were also two variants I'd never seen before in Cincinnati: a chorizo/steak combo known as "campechanos" and an adobo, chili and tomato-marinated chicken variant called, "pollo adobado." I eagerly choose one of each, as well as an al pastor taco.

Within minutes, we were presented with our lunches, dumbfounded and jaws dropped as we marveled at the sheer size of my girlfriend's torta and its amazing bread. It was a monstrous sandwich. We've had tortas before, but there's absolutely nothing we could recall that ever looked or tasted like this. The magic of this sandwich was definitely in the bread: it was light, airy, a bit sweet and paired perfectly with the savory components it contained. The chicken was tender and juicy, the avocado adding another satisfyingly filling nuance, finished with the vinegary bite of the pickled jalapenos and refreshing hunks of tomato. Even after collaborating, we came nowhere near finishing it.

tacos Tacos: chicken adobado, al pastor and campechanos

My tacos arrived sporting classic street digs, each reinforced with two corn tortillas and topped with onions and cilantro. The chicken adobado was far superior to virtually every chicken taco I'd ever had (the exception: Chilango's Chicken Tinga taco). The spicy, tomatoey sauce and caramelized bite of the grilled chicken made it an easy favorite. The campechanos taco, with its combination of chorizo and grilled steak, was mildly spiced and satisfying. My tasty al pastor taco came with hunks of marinated, grilled pork and onion.

Taqueria San Marcos is the kind of modest, local hole-in-the-wall we've been itching for.

Taqueria San Marcos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Taqueria San Marcos

Price: Cheap (under $11 per person)
Service: Good
Rating: 3.5 out of 43.5 stars






Other Recent Reviews

  1. Sandwichy Impressions: Fond: Lunch & Deli
    -posted Tuesday, April 3, 2018
  2. Our first look at Cooking with Caitlin's restaurant
    -posted Monday, March 26, 2018
  3. Chicken Impressions: Revolution Rotisserie & Bar
    -posted Saturday, March 17, 2018
  4. Seitan Worship: Losantivill3
    -posted Wednesday, March 7, 2018
  5. Chinese Impressions: Kung Food Chu's AmerAsia
    -posted Monday, February 26, 2018
Ratings Legend
four stars = Outstanding
three stars = Good
two stars = Fair
one star = Poor
  • From Leslie about El Trio Mexican Grill:
    El Trio closed last week :(
    posted: Tue., Apr 3rd, 2018 @ 3:19 PM
  • From TJ Jackson about Bourbon Smokehouse:
    Best pulled pork in town: webbs bbq in Newport, open ONLY on Fridays. and cheap.
    posted: Thu., Feb 1st, 2018 @ 12:39 PM
  • From Natasia Malaihollo about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thank you for the review and background on the restaurant history! I was a huge fan of huit and super disappointed when they “closed.” Was wondering what’s going on with this musical chairs of a restaurant strategy so thank you for clarifying!
    posted: Fri., Jan 26th, 2018 @ 6:50 PM
  • From Jeff about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thanks for the thorough review! It honestly does seem like a new restaurant is opening every other day..but the thing about the wait staff..they might be getting paid a higher hourly rate because they are only open for lunch. I’ve worked at a restaurant where I was paid $10 an hour but the owner kept the tips, it sucked but sort of made sense for the lunch shift.
    posted: Fri., Dec 22nd, 2017 @ 9:00 PM
  • From heather about Wild Eggs:
    we liked it too - things are fresh and made from scratch and high quality - good experiences all around
    posted: Wed., Dec 20th, 2017 @ 10:55 AM
  • From Cincinnati Bites about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    Thanks for writing, Heather. I definitely like their other restaurants. Lalo's pazole and fish taco are better than Mazunte's, I think. But I agree they are definitely hit-or-miss. I'm still rooting for them, though. There's talent there. :)

    posted: Mon., Nov 20th, 2017 @ 1:30 PM
  • From Heather JOhnson about Dope! Noodle and Dumpling Shop:
    I tried Huit & Lalo and they were both expensive and so mixed - one thing great - another thing barely mediocre. More of the same it sounds like - hits and misses for a really expensive lunch. Nope on Dope.
    posted: Sun., Nov 19th, 2017 @ 12:41 PM
  • From TJ Jackson about Udupi Cafe:
    I do not know if it is truly a match for the product you remember, but Frostop Root Beer is sold at Jungle Jims and is a personal favorite of mine.
    posted: Fri., Sep 29th, 2017 @ 6:00 PM
  • From Jones about Haru Korean Restaurant:
    As a long time reader, I found this review to be one of your loveliest and most enthusiastically vivid. I can't wait to try this place!
    posted: Tue., Aug 29th, 2017 @ 9:48 AM
  • From Jordan about Grand Central Delicatessen:
    yes!
    posted: Sat., Jun 3rd, 2017 @ 12:16 PM
Where The Locals Eat featured blog
Cincinnati Web Design | Cincinnati Mobile Web Design