The sheer number of places to get a good taco in Rockford is honestly absurd. 

I was about 19-years-old when I found out that tacos can be so much more than what you find at Taco Bell. I was working for Interstate Pollution Control by the airport as a summer job. One day the guys there sent me to El Reboso's on 11th Street to pick them up some lunch. Estaban said he'd buy me some tacos if I made the drive to go get them.

I was floored when I unwrapped my foil packet of tacos when I got back to the shop. Soft, double-layered corn tortillas, Crispy, well-seasoned steak, topped with onions and cilantro, with limes and salsa to add right before eating.

I was in love.

I've been searching for new places to get tacos ever since.

It's one of the things that my co-worker, Priscilla, and I would talk about frequently. Did you know about this place? Have you tried the taqueria in the back of this grocery store. Then we decided that taking a weekly trip to one of these places that we know about and writing a short blog it would help raise the profile of some of our favorite places. And we thought it would be something people would want to read.

First, let me introduce Priscilla. Say hello Priscilla.

Hello Priscilla. <--- Of course Joe typed that. If we're  talking tacos, then it should be "Hola Amigos!"

She's hilarious folks. Anything the reader should know about you before we get to talking tacos? Your taco bona fides if you will.

I'm really not hilarious. I'm just a behind the scenes person at the station that tries to keep Joe on his toes and needs to eat lunch or I get hangry. Plus, I think Joe asked me along just in case he ran into trouble pronouncing something on the menu.

Let's take off on our first taco trip: Mi Gordito's.

Priscilla Cantu

Mi Gordito's is located in the heart of downtown Loves Park, right on N. 2nd Street. It occupies the building that used to be Big Apple (or maybe Red Apple, I don't remember) and then Hollywood (not that Hollywood, that was across the street and the building isn't there anymore) Diner. The Hollywood Restaurant sign is still up as a matter of fact. After talking to the owners, they said that will be fixed shortly.

This is a new location for Mi Gordito's, you can check out their website here. They were formerly known as Carlito's and had a store a little farther north on N. 2nd by Northpark Hardware. That location currently houses Ritchie's Smokin' BBQ, which is also delicious but that's for a different blog.

The interior looks a lot like you probably remember the former tenants looking like with some minor changes to the decoration.

Priscilla Cantu

The menu is straightforward and includes everything you need from a taco joint, namely tacos.

Our order was simple. I went with 3 tacos "Mexican" style. One each of steak, chorizo, and al pastor. Mexican style means corn tortillas with onion and cilantro. American style means flour tortilla with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream.

I went with 2 steak tacos Mexican style and 1 chorizo american style.

Priscilla, it was nice of you to take one for the team and order one American style. I don't yuck someone else's yum, but that's not for me.

After ordering, they brought out some chips and salsa.

Priscilla Cantu

If you put chips and salsa down in front of me at a Mexican restaurant, I'm going to eat them and not complain. While these weren't the highlight of the trip by far, they were fine. Chips could have used a bit more salt and the salsas were serviceable, they didn't blow me away but they did what they're supposed to do, which is tide me over until the meal comes.

Let's talk about the meal.

If you had tacos at Carlito's, then you know what you're getting as the recipe doesn't seem to have changed much with the new location and name.

The tortillas were premade but lightly fried up nicely on the flattop. The meat was plentiful and well done. I was appropriately full after my three tacos. How would you describe your meal, Priscilla?

I thought the tacos and filling were just right. Only one tortilla per taco. Some places do two tortillas per taco. I'm trying to diet, one is plenty. Plus the tortilla shell didn't fall apart. Nothing worse than a taco blow out.

Now, if we're going to be doing a bunch of these, it would be nice to get some official metrics involved. That's why I'm introducing WROK's official taco rating. It will be broken up into 5 categories rated from 1-10. The categories will be: Chips and salsa, tortilla, fillings, value, and intangibles. A score of 50 would be the highest WROK taco rating a place could get.

Here's how Mi Gordito breaks down for us:

Chips and Salsa:

  • Joe - 5 - nothing outstanding but did what it was supposed to do.
  • Priscilla -5 - could've used a little more cilantro, onion or something in the salsa

Tortilla:

  • Joe - 7 - No double tortilla here but the corn tortilla held up and as previously noted, nicely fried on the flattop.
  • Priscilla -6 Not greasy, no tortilla blow out

Fillings:

  • Joe - 7 - Meat was well prepared and there was plenty of it. Steak was my favorite, chorizo was good and not as greasy as some places, the al pastor was good but not the best I've had.
  • Priscilla -6- I thought the steak was tender, not fatty, and had good flavor. The chorizo was good, but I should have gone Mexican style all the way. I'd try them again. I think I was too distracted by the people coming in thinking they were at Hollywood's to completely enjoy my meal.

Value:

  • Joe - 7 - Three hefty tacos for under 10 dollars is the typical going rate for tacos in Rockford.
  • Priscilla - 7  What Joe said.

Intangibles:

  • Joe - 6 - The horchata was outstanding. Literally some of the best I've had.  I also just noticed that they didn't charge me for it, which leads me to my one gripe, the flow of the restaurant was a little off. I know they're new, but having worked in the industry myself, I could tell that they need a little organization to really take off.
  • Priscilla - 8- The dining area was clean. Cleanliness is one thing I always look at when dining at a new place. I could've used a fork with my meal and more napkins. More napkins would have been helpful when Joe dumped his horchata on the table. Way to go, Joe. (NOTE: Thanks to my lightning-quick reflexes I did not "dump my horchata." There was a little spillage.)

Overall WROK Taco Score:

  • Joe - 32/50
  • Priscilla - 32/50

Check back here next Tuesday, Priscilla and I will be heading out for some more tacos. Have a place you want us to review? Drop us a note in the comments.

 

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