There it was: Takos al Pastor.
We told ourselves we weren’t going to try this place out. I mean, we live in Southern California, surrounded by amazing Mexican food.
Why would we travel all the way to Spain to eat tacos, of all things?
We had a bucket list of typical Spanish foods to try and we weren’t going to waste any precious stomach space on tacos. Especially not at a place that spelled “takos” with a K.
Mexican food in Spain just seemed wrong.
Takos al Pastor had shown up on multiple lists and articles when we were researching places to eat before our trip to Madrid and Barcelona, but we had mentally discarded it as an option.
As fate would have it, the location of our Airbnb ended up forcing us to walk by Takos al Pastor constantly. And, more often than not, we’d see a long line of people waiting to place their orders.
Maybe the hype was warranted. Or maybe there was a severe lack of taco joints in Madrid and they had cornered the market. Still, we held strong.
That is, until one day we were too hungry to keep ignoring this place.
We had planned to go to Casa Labra for drinks, croquetas de bacalao, and other tapas. But it was 4:30 pm and we were starving and Casa Labra wouldn’t be opening until 6:00 pm.
And where were we when hunger struck? Right by Takos al Pastor.
And of course, being 4:30 pm, there was no line and we walked right in. The menu was much more extensive than we expected, with a variety of quesadillas, tortas, and other items in addition to tacos.
We were served by an energetic and friendly Dominican man, who right away guessed I was Puerto Rican.
To me, there is something so comforting about running into fellow Caribbeans when I’m far from home. He made us feel welcomed, joked around, and was one of the highlights of our experience.
We ordered five tacos: two al pastor (the house specialty), one suadero, one arrachera, and one papa, chorizo and queso. Priced at 1€ each, except for the arrachera that was 1.50€, we felt we should try a few of their options.
We looked at each other after our first bite and our faces said everything: we messed up by ignoring this place. Its reputation was definitely earned.
These were some of the most memorable tacos we have ever eaten.
The papa, chorizo and queso taco was the standout for us. The fusion of Spanish and Mexican food was so well executed in that taco that we still talk about how amazing it tasted.
We enjoyed these tacos so much that we ended up going back that night for more.
We had gone to Casa Labra, which we also loved, and back to our Airbnb. We were heading to Barcelona the next morning and needed to pack and make sure we had everything ready.
But our minds kept wandering to Takos al Pastor.
With the excuse that it was our last night in Madrid and that they wouldn’t be open by the time we left the next day, we headed back.
This time we weren’t as lucky, and there was a queue.
Given that it was around 10:00 pm, a popular dinner time in Spain, we should have expected it. But now we knew that these tacos were worth the wait, so we patiently waited for our turn.
The same Dominican server took our order, claiming that we had come back because we missed him so much. To be honest, he was half right.
We ordered too much food and took it back to the Airbnb, where we binged on tacos and Netflix. To say we were stuffed by the end of the night is putting it lightly.
We were definitely in food comma mode and completely useless when it came to packing. But we were happy.
Dear papa, chorizo and queso taco: we miss you so much. And Takos al Pastor, we’re sorry that we misjudged you.
You were one of the best restaurants we tried in Madrid.
We’re making amends by spreading the word about your greatness and urging others to not make the same mistake as us.
Planning a trip to Madrid? Check out our Madrid travel guide.