My expression of exasperation, "Ay yi yi!" is at myself, for living not far from this place for almost six years and never eating there. Perhaps it was the 1980's Taco Bell exterior that turned me off; it might have called up this cheap Chinese take-out in my old home of Bloomington, Indiana, that was the new inhabitant of an old Taco Bell--it was baaaaaaaaaad. We used to call it "China Bell." Someone didn't believe me when I said such buildings used to be Taco Bell (damn youngters). Here's proof.
But wait, I'm getting off course, because I am here to shout from the rooftop of a building of ANY style that AIBERTO'S ROCKS MY WORLD!! This morning I was hankering for some Mexican food, possibly still suffering withdrawal symptoms from a return from Cozumel a few weeks ago. We headed to Aiberto's for lunch as a friend had recommended their food as good and cheap (which may be different from cheap and good) not long ago.
The little taco shop is plastered with signs that showed specials galore, with low low prices and some yummy looking photos. Entering, it's a quite run down but clean enough. The menu board looks like it came straight from Muchas Gracias. Someone told me that it's owned by a member of the same family (a brother), who didn't want to "go big" like Muchas Gracias. That's totally unconfirmed, and I welcome any input as to agreement or the contrary. (Yeah, I'm going to ask. But didn't want to hold my accolades until then.)
We walk in and are greeted by a friendly woman behind the counter, and a half dozen or so sets of eyes from the patrons who are all authentic. We peruse the menu, and have trouble deciding. Then she reminds us that you can get TWO combos (from 1-17) plus two small drinks for ten bucks. Okay, can't beat that, so we order thinking that we'll get skimpy little lunches.
This arrives at the table:
I ordered the Carne Asada w/ flour tortillas, Scot had the fish tacos. Both came with rice and beans. We got a sampling of their salsas from the condiment bar.
Ten bucks. All that for ten bucks. What?!
So fresh and flavorful! Scot rated them the best fish tacos in their class (with deep fried fish), and a tangy sauce that was a distant cousin to a relish. The rice was moist, and the beans were very well spiced with a nice consistency that was firm and moist but not watery. These were more like mashed beans instead of pureed beans, as some places do. Great spicing used in them, too.
My carne asada was plentiful, had a great flavor, and was all good quality meat -- not chewy, or with those surprise pieces you try to delicately spit out. The guac is creamy and a little thin, but makes it great to spread on... well, everything.
The place was doing the business, and I can see why. The drive-thru is open 24 hours, and their menu has it all. Clearly the rolled tacos are a popular favorite; I saw plate after plate come out in numerous variations from a small plate of four to a multi-level architectural wonder.
Aiberto's Taco Shop
3855 Market Street Northeast
Salem, OR 97301-1831