Muchas Gracias



No thank you, might be your initial thought seeing this hole in the wall Mexican restaurant on State Street east of the capitol. It's a tiny four table restaurant open 24 hours, serving standard Mexican fare from tacos to tortas. It's greasey but it's good. This place is not for the weak of heart, literally. The carne asada burrito is stuffed full of fatty steak, guacamole and salsa for $3.90. That's more than enough to fill you up and expect a grumbling noise from your stomach about three hours after lunch. One of the best things about this place is that it's right next to Mill Creek and some sort of city dam. On a hot, late summer day, the picnic benches along the waterfront can be full of locals from nearby homes and businesses.

Muchas Gracias is a chain of restaurants that has grown quickly all over western Oregon. They seem to take over odd buildings and turn them into profitable restaurants. There's an MG in Lincoln City that used to be a KFC. They must be having some success because the most recent openings have been in new strip malls including one near Home Depot off Salem Parkway and another near Sushi Kyo near lancaster.

One interesting thing about this State Street location that's interesting is the duck above the sign. Does anyone out there know the history of that sign? I'm guessing this may have been a drive thru burger stand back in the day. Anyone remember?

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

LOVE MUCHAS! Got hooked in college and it is actually pretty authentic Mexican food.

Anonymous said...

It took me a while to like Muchas, but now I love their Oregon burritos (minus the Mexican salsa). A much better alternative than Taco Bell.

Anonymous said...

MG on state used to be The Duck Inn, a greasy but good hamburger joint.

Anonymous said...

Muchas Gracias is like a virus. No more!

Anonymous said...

The oregon burrito is good, but I only go to certain MG as some do not get very good scores on health inspections. The one on state street used to be The Duck Inn. I never went there the building scared me.

Anonymous said...

I miss the Duck Inn....too many Mexican Diners now, and Muchas isn't that greatos...

Anonymous said...

Well this is Salem.

Dsperin said...

I really like muchas when I'm drunk. It's better to sleep through the digestion of that food!

filbert said...

The Duck Inn was also a cheap grease-fest, BUT they sold bags of duck feed for something silly like 25 cents. Ironically, it wasn't bread and crackers, but mixed grains - actually healthy and appropriate for the ducks (unlike the food they served humans)! While I only let the kids eat food there once, we went back often to sit by the creek among the ducks.

jeff said...

I think that MG and "Aibertos" are pretty much one and the same - at least the menus looked pretty much identical last time I checked.

And I'm old enough to remember when the Duck Inn duck still ducked....

Scott said...

The Duck-Inn wasn't always a grease pit and I remember the bobbing duck, too.

Originally, the Duck-Inn opened with a very simple menu - Hamburgers. Good hamburgers. They had fresh cut french fries and the best tater tots in town. (Think, back when we had Skateland's wooden floor and a drive in theater in S. Salem.)

They closed for a short time, (late 60's, early 70's?), and opened again with the same name, but the food quality changed. The duck tended to break down after that as well. It's a good place to eat, as long as the duck is bobbing...

Jess said...

I love their carnitas tortas. I get one when I'm heading to work, eat half of it when I get there, and then the other half on my lunch break. It's like two meals for the price of one!

Anonymous said...

Ok food, but definitely not for the faint at heart. The beans are heavy on the lard and the beef is pretty fatty.

I do eat there occasionally when I am up at 2 am. It tastes good, but you do pay the price on digestion.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the Duck Inn was Salem's very first drive-through. In the 15 years I have been in Salem there have been several owners who tried to succeed by keeping it as a burger joint. Kudos to MG for doing something right to keep a historical relic going, even if the food, which I love, sits like a rock in your stomach.

Pam said...

We LOVE MG. Our favorite one is the scary looking former DQ location on Capital, just north of Market. Seriously scary, but my oh my we love it.

Every now and then we crave fish tacos and a few years ago we tried all the fish tacos in town. Our all time favorite was at any MG location. And unlike Aibertos, MG gives you a double tortilla so they don't break and drip all over your shirt and down your arm.

Plus you can't beat the value. Family dinner for a mom, a teenage girl, and a big dad who eats a lot: $13. And nobody walks away hungry.

Anonymous said...

I remember eating at the Duck Inn when my grandma lived at the State St. Bed & Breakfast. We'd get food, than by duck food and feed the ducks on the park bench.

Muchas Gracias is the best. I remember when it first opened, and it's a must to go eat at when I visit home.

Anonymous said...

I'm boring so I usually order the same thing at MG: a vegetarian burrito. It is so, so good. And yes it serves me two full meals. But I never feel gross or heavy after eating it like many other people say about this place; the ingredients are delicious and fresh and crisp and hot and sauce-y and yummy.

I also love an order of the chips and guacamole. I do wish they would drain the chips just a little bit better first -- the bottom layer of chips can be a little drippy with oil. But getting fresh hot chips is awesome! Think Taco Bell does that? No way :)

Just this weekend I went to the South Commercial MG location for the first time (for my vegetarian burrito, of course). I was pleasantly surprised. This location seems like more of a "restaurant" than the others around town. They still have the drive through but a much larger sitting area. Things look a little cleaner, a little nicer than the other small MGs and the counter help was friendly and efficient.

Anonymous said...

hey..........i'm starving right now!...........can i get an addres to muchos gracious or what!

Anonymous said...

I use to eat at the one on Capital all the time, especially after my swingshift at 4am. When I moved to Medford (I'm back in salem now), I was excited when they opened up 2 more MC's, giving a total of 5 counting the 2 in Grants Pass. Viva La Muchos....and Albertos!

Anonymous said...

It is like mcdonalds. It tastes good going down, but you know it ain't good for you. Grease, salt, and lots of real lard (umm, these refried beans are good!). The pork tacos tend to have a lot of gristle, which grosses me out. I know a couple of people who've worked there. Low end ingredients, but they run a pretty clean operation.

Bottomline, it ain't good for you. But that ain't the reason you eat there. Just like the box of ding-dongs after a late night party. Sometimes your cravings must be satisfied.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the Muchas Gracias location in Lincoln City? When did it close? I always enjoyed eating there while staying at one of the motels. It's still a Mexican restaurant, but noticed the name has changed to Oscar's.

Anonymous said...

The Lincoln City location is actually called "Super Oscar's Mexican Food". Super Oscar's has taken over the old McIver's Restaurant in Newport.

Also, Mazatalan Mexican Restaurant has locations in Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, and Newport.

Jia said...

How can they call it a vegetarian burrito if there is lard in the beans?!

Chuck Bradley said...

Jia. Because it contains no meat. They are calling it a Vegetarian Burrito, not a Vegan Burrito. I believe there is a distinction between the two for those to whom such things matter. ;~D

Jia said...

Vegetarian means no animals inside. lard=animals. Vegan means no animal related products like eggs and dairy. To label something vegetarian means no animal had to die to produce the food item. An animal has to die to make lard. Vegan means no animal is involved in making your food, which even includes things like white sugar which are processed using filters made from animals.

Anonymous said...

Aren't eggs = animals?

Anyway, there is definitely a healthy portion of lard in the refried beans and I'm betting the tortillas as well.. Wait, healthy is probably a pun.

I like the reference to ding dongs above. I once ate an entire box of them and a family sized nacho flavor Doritos in once sitting.

Muchas - the bean burrito is the only thing I like. The meats are not good quality in my opinion.

Jia said...

The eggs that you buy at stores are unfertilized, so they will never become a chicken. You can eat eggs without killing a chicken.

Anonymous said...

It's probably incorrect to call a meat-free burrito made with lard "vegetarian".... this has never bothered me, a meat-eater, but vegetarians and vegans I'm sure are used to thinking through their orders and what animal products are often used.

Anonymous said...

The definition of "Vegetarian" varies greatly, people who take it seriously go to great lengths to adequately describe their preferences, like Lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, pesca-tarian, vegan and even raw-vegan.

If it's really important to you ALWAYS ask. And there are many items on the market that seem vegetarian but actually contain gelatin which an animal definitely dies for.

It is not uncommon for burritos to contain lard in the beans and the flour tortillas. If that bothers you be sure to look for Vegan burritos instead.

And if you ask them at Muchas they will gladly, and proudly, tell you there is lard in their beans. It's what makes them yummy!

Anonymous said...

The duck is because it used to be a duck feeding place. My dad brought my siblings and I all the time when we were kids.

Anonymous said...

This place used to be known for it's excellent tasting Mexican fast food but it has gone way downhill over the past few years. We quit going to any of the Muchas Gracias locations some time ago. The very last time we ordered food from there, I had the Carne Asada plate and opted for the black beans. There were so many chunks of gristle in the Carne Asada that half of it went in the garbage. The black beans were literally cold right out of the can---nasty. My husband commented that the burritos were about half the size of what they used to be and either overpowered with salt or bland and tasteless. The tortas (Mexican sandwich) had so little filling in them that I actually was overpowered by the bland tasting, half stale torta bread. The last few times we went through the drive-thru they forgot the hot sauce containers in our bag, then tried to charge us extra for them. I remember how Muchas Gracias used to be and it's kind of sad to see the quality of their food spiral downward.

Anonymous said...

Muchas Gracias operates to sell very very cheap Mexican type food. They buy very low end factory based ingredients and pay staff very low wages.

It's tempting at 3 am after a long night of partying, but I always pay for it later.

Looking at the quality of the stores, they are pretty transparent about their low budget approach.

You get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Muchas Gracias chain has gone way down hill, especially their State St. location. I've also received cold beans straight out of a can. Yes they were always known for their cheap food but it used to be atleast warm and taste good AND their used to be more of it. The burritos are literally half the size that they used to be. I'd say everything is half the size it used to be and they keep raising prices. I wouldn't mind the price increases if the quality of the items and portion sizes stayed the same.

Amy aka Lavachickie said...

There are SO many better options around, I haven't gone to a Muchas for years. My favorite taco shop is Aibertos. And in Monmoth, Koyote Tacos. OMG so good.