Ay yi yi! Aiberto's Taco Shop on Market

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 tortilla was crazy big... I tore it into a million pieces and ate my plate Ethiopian style, moreso than actually making tacos. The menu board said three corn tortillas or two flour tortillas came with this combo. The one GIGANTIC flour tortilla was plenty.

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
(503) 375-3066


DustyTymes said...

I have met the owner of this restaurant and he is a really together friendly guy! I complimented his menu and flavor of the food which is far better than many Mexican restaurants in the area. I originally came from Southern California where foods competition and flavors are FIERCE! When I told him that, he smiled and told me he came up from the San Diego area. [That what I THINK he said, I was just overjoyed about finding something I like!]

It's TRUE that this place is not RITZY and their original HUGE Neon Sign doesn't light up at night (They have some WINDOW Neon), but the place is clean and their food has great value and flavor! If you want to find this place, it's on MARKET Street across the street from FRED MEYER'S (at Lancaster & Market). Just look for the LITTLE "SCREAMING YELLOW" Building. See you THERE!!!

lavachickie said...

Thanks, Dusty; I forgot the location information! I edited the post to have name, addr and link to Google map's Place Page.

Jia said...

Yum! I think I'll go there tonight.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad they've cleaned the place up over the last couple years. Their last score was a 96. A couple years ago they had a 39, which is the first thing I think of when I think of Aibertos.

Chuck Bradley said...

Excellent review Lavachickie! Thanks for putting this place back on my radar. I have eaten here, but not lately. I checked my notes and was also very favorably impressed with the authenticity and value at Aiberto’s. I’ve kind of forgotten about it, but now, thanks to you, it’s got another Chuck Bradley bulls-eye on it for a visit soon.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I havn't eaten there since I witnessed the cook making burritoes with his bare hands, lean over and re-arrange the floor mat and then go right back to making the burritoes. It sounds like they have improved?

Anonymous said...

I ate there first time last Saturday, amazing food great value, I'll be back! The beans and rice on the side were ho hum, but the burrito was so good and huge I didn't care at all.

Anonymous said...

Not to downplay Albierto's, because I haven't been there, but if you like authentic Mexican food - try Jr's Taqueria. Really really good.

Anonymous said...

Well ... Thanks to you all my wonderful people from Salem..My name is Armando and I am the "NEW OWNER" of Aiberto's Taco Shop. Me and my crew are from Sunny San Diego California about three years ago and I left my home town to pursuit my dreams... became a business owner and drew about 1200 miles with all my hope and hungry for success... well i came to realize that the previous owner had a terrible reputation around and the business was pretty much death... Well I never gave up and try to do things the proper way and improved everything in this restaurant... I consider my business as part of me and i definitely take good care of it. It is being very hard to grow my business because the guys before me made a very good job in getting this place a really bad reputation... Despite the odds I said to my self.... " Armando you are not a quitter and you won't give up no matter what..." well sometimes i listen to my self and I am still here... those who knows me knows that i am a very humble and simple guy. All I want it's for my people from Salem give us a try and I promise you all I will not disappoint you.Me and my staff will do our best to draw a smile in your face and have you come back and join us to enjoy a very delicious and inexpensive plate of authentic mexican food...please forgive me for my English but I promise you that I cook better Mexican food than I write english.May the Lord Bless us all... God Bless America.

Chuck Bradley said...

Well Armando, not only was your letter just fine, I think it would take a hard hearted S. O. B. to not want to try your restaurant after having read it!

I’ll be stopping by soon.

Robert said...

Well, now I will have to give them a shot. Never been before that kind of personal investment in a business usually translates into a good experience.

The pictures look great.

We are getting a nice selection of authentic mexican restaurants in town. I love it.

Anonymous said...

Yowza! After reading this post I had them on my to do list. I finally got the opportunity to have dinner there today and boy oh boy were those some tasty rolled tacos. They are very basic in concept but big on flavor. 5 chicken rolled tacos covered in guacamole, cheese and lettuce. The chicken had a nice flavor and the lettuce was crispy and fresh and the guacamole was yummy too. I just love when the cheese is shredded super thin that it is almost like corn silk in texture.

I will definitely be back especially since I noticed on the menu that they offer tamales.

I was so excited about my dinner that I forgot to take a picture!

Chuck Bradley said...

Today we had one Beef Enchilada and one Carne Asada Taco Lunch Special. Both were good. Carol commented that her Enchiladas had no Enchilada Sauce but were good anyway. I absolutely love their Refried Beans and would be perfectly happy making a meal of those alone. I'm pretty sure Aiberto himself was working the counter today. If not he has an excellent employee there. It was every bit as good as I remembered it to be.

Anonymous said...

I spent 8 years in san Diego, and if there was one thing I could of brought with me back to Oregon is the Mexican food, thank you Aiberto's, the best in Oregon!

Anonymous said...

Bring one to Portland, please

Anonymous said...

Whenever I enter this place there is always a really friendly guy behind the counter (possibly the owner himself?)He knows the meaning of quality customer service. He always asks how your meal was and thanks you for coming in. My mouth automatically waters everytime I enter this place-the food is incredible for the prices. Much better than Muchas Gracias. A++++++ for Abiertos