Marcos Place, AKA El Tapatio

Penned by Dave, EatSalem's newest writer. 
If he is not in his backyard in relentless pursuit of the perfect brisket, pulled pork or tri tip, he can likely to be found at a Junior Hockey game somewhere in the Pac NW. Follow him on Twitter @oldscud

I’ve heard it said that Salem is a taco town. Having spent the first forty years of my life in the taco nirvana of Southern California, where excellent little taqueria’s exist on nearly every street corner, much like the famed coffee bars of the PacNW, I needed more than a catchy tune in a clever, and cute, video to fully convince me of that.  Yes, there are some decent tacos in Salem but nothing has made me forget about all those great taqueria’s in Sunny SoCal quite like Marco’s place has. Here you can truly find a great selection of authentic taco’s at insanely affordable prices.  Located on High St at Union, Marcos Place, AKA El Tapatio, has quite the lineup when it comes to tacos. All tacos come wrapped in double tortillas and are stuffed with the meat filling of your choice, Carne Asada, Pollo, Al Pastor, Carnitas, Lengua and Chorizo along with fresh cilantro and finely chopped onions.  My favorites are the unique Papas Con Chorizo (potato & sausage) and of course, the best fish tacos this side of Rosarita. The fish is crisp, the sauce is perfectly spiced and the cabbage slaw adds a nice crunch.

Marcos is not just tacos though. Here you can find the very best Chile Rellenos in town. These are made fresh onsite. Hand dipped and served with a tasty mild sauce, rice, beans and a salad. The quesadillas are also very good. If you like tamales you are in for a treat. Marcos has some very tasty tamales as well. They are billed as the best in town and I can not disagree. It’s really hard to find good, authentic tamales anywhere and these are among the best I’ve ever had.

As much as I love the food here I do have a few gripes.

The burritos are a bit of a disappointment. They are your standard fare, rice, beans and meat along with onions and cilantro. I do not care much for the beans they use. They have always seemed like soupy pinto beans with no real flavor. The tortillas are a bit chewy for my liking and the end product never has enough meat to satisfy me.

The cups of sauce in the to go orders are annoyingly small. They contain about a tablespoon full of sauce and they may throw 3 or 4 of them into an order of ten tacos, and that is if you ask for extra. More often than not, there is no sauce in the bag at all if not requested. The sauce itself is outstandingly delicious, I just wish there was more of it.

The service is sloooooow. Always. Count on it. It’s never bad, it just takes a long time to receive your meal once you order. I walked in yesterday and ordered a few tacos and it took nearly twenty minutes. This was mid afternoon, there were only a handful of diners when I walked in and most of them already had meals in front of them. This may seem like a minor gripe but it’s enough to keep me from being a more frequent customer. If not for the consistently long wait times I would rate Marcos Place a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

All in all, you will not find more authentic tacos, rellenos and tamales anywhere else in Salem. It’s a good location, plenty of parking, indoor and outdoor seating and they even have a drive-through window. I think. The pricing is very affordable and if you are lucky enough to be able to chat a bit with Marco you will likely find him to be very likable and he will make you feel like one of the family in no time.
Strongly recommend.

Mon-Sat: 10 am - 8 pm
615 High St NE
(503) 385-8816


Anonymous said...

Super review! Thanks for tempting me!

Anonymous said...

Tacos are good. Service is very low end. I got chewed out by a waitress for sitting outside while waiting (20 mins) for my food. Apparently next time they WON'T bring it outside to me.
Strange to have outdoor seating but not deliver to it.
Tacos are good though.

Anonymous said...

I've only been to this place once and was not impressed. The carne asada tacos were the tiniest ones I'd ever had in my life. I didn't know you could even find corn tortillas that small. There was a miniscule amount of meat in them-probably a teaspoonful per taco. They did taste very good though and the tiny portion of sauce was excellent. Too bad there wasn't more of it. The beans were an odd beige color and the consistency of soup, as if they had been watered down. The service wasn't exactly bad, but the staff was clearly overwhelmed and orders were getting screwed up left and right. I had actually ordered 5 tacos and ended up with only three. This place doesn't even compare to Albierto's on Market Street.

Anonymous said...

Good is pretty good, though often there are large chunks of fat in the meat. Just generic store bought tortillas.

Customer service is not the best. Every time I've eaten there just about every other order brought out seems to have something wrong .. Usually they wanted the order to go and they prepared it for here. Not really a big deal just little things.

I also think its odd that they have outdoor tables but stopped delivering to them. They just stand in the doorway and holler at you to come inside. Not a big deal, but a little strange. Seems like it would be faster to just walk it out.

Anonymous said...

When I tried to check out this spot yesterday, they only had one employee manning the front counter, the drive in window and the telephone. After ten minutes waiting at the counter I gave up. I certainly didn't blame her as she was doing her best. I went down the street to JR's and was eating a delicous burrito within 5 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Have you guys heard of Temos? on Silverton rd. it's really ghetto but the tacos there are authentic.

KandN said...

Anon, Thanks for the tip. I remember Chuck Bradley had it on his top ten Mexican list.