“ Address: Mesarski prehod 3 / 2000 / Maribor „
NOTE: prices are given in Euro because they are unlikely to change in the short term whereas the exchange rate changes frequently.
This Mexican restaurant is tucked away on a narrow lane in the Lent district of Maribor but is well worth seeking out. Late in the evenings it's a music bar and club but until then it serves well priced Tex-Mex classics such as the finest chili con carne in Slovenia, enchilladas, burritos and some excellent salads. Mexican food is popular in Slovenia but doesn't always achieve the vibrant flavours that Mexican food should.
The interior is reminiscent of the stereotypical New Mexican roadhouse; think 'From Dusk Till Dawn' and you're on the right track. It's colourful and quirky and captures the Tex-Mex theme without being too cheesy. It's not hugely comfortable, however, and in winter it can be a bit chilly so try to sit away from the windows if visiting at that time of year.
Menus are in Slovene and English and we've yet to meet a staff member that doesn't speak very good English too. Service is pretty prompt even at busy times and you should usually be able to get a table without booking. On summer evenings the fold-down seats which are screwed into the wall outside are pulled down and the lane is filled with music and laughter. It must be several years since I saw the Lent restaurant even half full in the evenings which is surprising because the branch in the not so away Europark shopping centre is always packed at lunchtime.
The chili con carne (Euro7.50) is to die for - a rich spicy sauce and shredded beef that just falls apart. Another highlight is the spicy chicken salad served in a crisp tortilla (Euro7.90). Portions are generous and at these prices Tako's is hard to beat for value. I remember the second time visited when we'd befriended an English tourist, a rugby player, who was not due to hook up with her friends in the capital until the next day. She finished her chilli, then polished off the remains of my beef salad and finally asked whether anyone minded if she finished the tortilla chips: I was amazed at her capacity for what is quite filling grub.
Other dishes aren't so great but that's because there's a tendency to drown perfectly good fajitas or burritos in bucket-loads of sloppy stuff like oodles of soured cream, tonnes of tomato sauce (not a salsa it's much more of a tomato sauce) and not so great guacamole. There's a variety of main course salads but if you're choosing a salad because you want something healthy or light, ask them to go easy on the dressing as they can be heavy handed here too. All the main course salads can be served in a crispy tortilla for an additional Euro1.
Tako's sells bottled beers and these include Slovenian beers as well as your usual Mexican restaurant imports like Corona and Dos Equis; bear in mind, though, that a half litre bottle of decent Slovenian beer is Euro2.60 while a measly 330ml Mexican beer costs Euro2.90. I've tried the margaritas which are OK, if a teeny bit mean on the tequila.
I've only once been able to contemplate a dessert and tried the 'flan' (Euro2.80), the Spanish name for a crème caramel. I'm not sure whether Tako's is homemade or bought in, the latter seems more likely, but it was acceptable and, to be honest, I wasn't expecting to be blown away by it anyway.
Across the river at the Europark shopping centre there's another branch of Tako's which gets packed out at lunchtime, mainly with students who bring their 'kupons' (student meals in Slovenia are subsidised by the state) and have the set lunches (soup, salad, main and a teensy dessert). Non-students can also order the set lunches but should be advised that the people preparing the food at the Europark branch have even less control than the staff in Lent when it comes to adding the extras and you'll be lucky to find your enchillada under all the slop.
For atmosphere the Lent branch wins hands down (assuming there are some other diners); for me the Europark lacks character and gets way too busy to be enjoyable. Tako's Lent is best enjoyed on a warm evening after (or before) a walk along the Drava and among the quaint narrow lanes of the Lent district, Maribor's Old Town, when it's likely to be a bit livelier.
Expect to pay about Euro25 for a modest meal for two
Monday-Thursday: 11.00-22.00, Friday and Saturday: 11.00-03.00, Sunday: 11.00-16.00
Mesarski prehod 3, 2000 Maribor
Note - this is an old building and toilets are upstairs and therefore not accessible for wheelchair users