Taqueria El Cazador

Date
5 May 2012
Cuisine
Mexican
Cost
Average Cost ($8-$14)
Location
Southeast Huntsville
Rating
4 out of 5

Taqueria El CazadorMelanie’s Take

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, Shane and I went in search of a Mexican restaurant we hadn’t yet tried. Rather than try a Tex-Mex spot, we wanted to go as authentically Mexican as we could in Huntsville. Remembering how good and authentically Mexican Taqueria El Cazador 2 was, we decided to try the original: Taqueria El Cazador. Located in a tiny strip mall on South Parkway, it might be easy to miss, but the garish pastel colors of the building make it a stand out for passersby. From the minute you drive in the parking lot, you will know that you’re not in for the typical Americanized experience of all you can eat chips and salsa and cheese dip.

Tacos

The employees on hand when we visited spoke limited English, but the picture menu was plastered all over the wall much like you’ve seen at Chinese restaurants, so there was no problem ordering. I chose the #1, the taco plate, which consisted of your choice of four different kinds of tacos. Having tried these before at the bus counterpart, I chose two steak, one chicken, and one spicy pork. After ordering, I walked a few steps to the right to the drink and salsa bar to fill little cups with their traditional, roasted, and cilantro salsas. I also helped myself to some spicy marinated veggies and pico de gallo for my tacos. As we waited just a few minutes for our food, we tried the salsas by themselves. I liked each but was crazy for the creamy, green cilantro salsa. It had the strong flavor of cilantro but also had a good kick to it.

My tacos were so good and affordable ($6) that I wondered why I would ever eat them anywhere else. In fact, outside of the bus run by the same people, you just can’t get tacos like this anywhere else. They each come nestled in two soft, homemade corn tortillas, are filled with your choice of meat (some that I guarantee you’ve never tried or maybe even heard of), and are topped with lots of fresh cilantro and onion. Each of my meats was delicious in its own way, but my favorite was the spicy pork. Once I topped each taco with the marinated veggies and some of the cilantro, it took them to another level of tangy yet smooth deliciousness. If you are leery of walking into a place that seems less than manufactured for your American taste, try to overcome it just to try this place. It’s worth it, and you’ll be able to eat Mexican food as it should be: fresh, homemade, and unbelievably tasty.Salsa

Shane’s Take

I’ve been noticing Taqueria El Cazador down on South Parkway for a couple years. From the Parkway it’s always looked interesting, with its O-P-E-N sign flashing and wild colors glowing, and its slightly unpolished appearance giving it an authentic look. Plus, it’s the big brother to Taqueria El Cazador 2 (aka “the Mexican bus”), which we visited and enjoyed a lot last year. With an authentic look and a great sister restaurant, I had high expectations, and it met them all.

Inside Taqueria El Cazador

The restaurant is authentically foreign, standing in stark contrast to Americanized joints like Rosie’s or even Los Mariachis. Much like Cesia’s Bakery, from the moment I walked in El Cazador felt like it belonged in a foreign country. From the Univision on the TVs to the bright orange walls to the ugly plastic deer print table covers, El Cazador has that foreign touch of strange and cheap but honest taste. It’s like visiting your poor Great Grandma’s house: the decor is cheap and tasteless, but she decorated it with pride, and that makes it all okay. El Cazador doesn’t deliver the professionally planned layout, great music, or blasting air conditioning that you’ll get at a Rosie’s, but it makes up for it with authenticity and honesty.

Huevos RancherosThe food is the same way. I ordered the huevos rancheros. The style of huevos rancheros varies from one store to the next, but at El Cazador it’s composed of an egg or two fried over medium and topped with a fried steak and served with a side of beans, rice, and corn tortillas. As you can see in the picture, the portion was large, particularly for its $7 price tag. The eggs tasted good, as did the steak, despite it being tough and smelling funny. The beans were nearly bland, but some lard helped them out. The rice was plain, but I ate every bit of it. I also ate all the corn tortillas, which seemed homemade. Although it wasn’t the best food I’ve eaten, the meal was enjoyable: it had no pretensions, no stories to tell, and nothing to prove—it was good simple food.

El Cazador delivers a genuine good-tasting Mexican meal in an authentic atmosphere. The price is low, the people are friendly, the food is good, and the atmosphere is something to experience. I look forward to returning.Horchata

Highlights:

  • The highlight of my meal was the rice milk (“horchata”, I believe it’s called). Composed of water left from cooking rice, sugar, and a touch of cinnamon, it tasted like a milk-free less-rich egg nog. It was delicious. I told Melanie I’d gladly stop by again just for a cup of it.
  • They have three of four salsas from which to choose. Every one of them is delicious.
  • For those who’ve not been to an authentically-foreign restaurant, you must know that you must adjust your expectations. If you go in expecting a military-clean floor, food that perfectly fits American tastebuds, and service with all the “sirs” and “ma’ams” of a Baptist Sunday school, you will be disappointed. You may see or taste something that usually would alarm you, but it’s nothing that an “Well, I guess that’s how they do it” can’t fix.
Taqueria El Cazador on Urbanspoon

4 Responses

  1. Chelsea G.

    Oh man! Scott and I love Mexican joints. We will definitely have to give this place a try. 🙂

  2. Sabra

    Just discovered your blog…what a great reference! We are moving to Huntsville this summer from the Baltimore- Washington area. I would love a primer on the regional favorites. I saw the pork potato mentioned in a BBQ post …never heard of such a thing! We will definitely have a check that out! What else should we be looking for? Thanks in advance!

    • Sabra, thanks for dropping by! Around here, pork potatoes are standard BBQ fare and a litmus test of quality ‘que. You definitely should try one. Huntsville isn’t really known for a specific food, but it seems that most residents and visitors enjoy Rosie’s (a microcosm of modern Huntsville culture) and Ol’ Heidelberg (a microcosm of old Huntsville culture). They have little in common, but they both serve good food and well represent Huntsville culture.

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