What can a food critic say about the Taco Bandido experience? Much like the following at Stevo’s, Taco Bandido is spoken of by old timers as if it were the dining room of a deity, not a home-grown mom and pop restaurant. Taco Bandido has a loyal following that is impossibly committed to dining there as often as is possible. When I first moved to Burley some 23-years-ago it is all I heard about. I suspected it would be something like Taco Time, the Utah franchise that I had enjoyed while growing up in Logan, but when I ate there I had to admit that it was so much better!
What makes a restaurant so valued to its patrons? If someone could clone the Taco Bandido experience and replicate it a thousand times over, he would retire a millionaire many times over, but it’s not so easily done. Our local Taco Bandido has earned the reputation of excellent food, a great dining experience complete with quick service, all at a reasonable cost. Simply put, it can’t be topped!
Ambiance: The newly remodeled Taco Bandido has taken a good thing and made it substantially better. The new addition doubled the seating and made it much nicer to dine in. The feeling you get when you walk in the front door sets the stage for enjoying a beautiful meal.
Seating: The new dining room allowed the restaurant to put in twice the seating and made many of the booths big enough for groups of six. Tables and chairs have been added as well, so if you prefer a padded booth there are plenty of them and equally comfortable are their stand-alone tables.
Noise: With the kitchen so close to the dining room it is surprising that you don’t hear the noise of food being prepared. The restaurant sits on Overland Ave, but you really don’t even hear traffic, a tribute to the quality of the windows that face Burley’s busiest streets. The bright light that comes through the massive windows that run the length of the west side of the restaurant allow you to do a little daydreaming while you dine.
Bathrooms: The remodel didn’t do much with the original bathrooms, but they are well maintained. There is a third bathroom that was added in the remodel and it is fitted to accommodate families with children or someone in a wheelchair. Taco Bandido could have easily left the new restroom out, but they didn’t, which I believe just adds one more kudo to the owner’s commitment to their patrons.
Service: There isn’t a lot of service at Taco Bandito. After you order your food you will be given a number that you take to your table. Once there you will be delighted at how quickly your food will be brought out to you, though that is the extent of the one-on-one care you receive. The tables are quickly cleared off so it will be a rare event if you see one that needs wiped down.
Food: If you are like me the bottom line is the food. In the dozens of trips I make to Taco Bandido each year added up over the 23 years I have lived in Burley, I can honestly say there isn’t one time where the food wasn’t excellent. That’s a rare thing in food service because there are a number of things that could easily go south when serving food. The preparation that goes into each of their dishes probably goes unnoticed but when you sink your teeth into a Mexican Pizza or Combination Plate you’ll taste its goodness. Each ingredient is carefully proportioned so it gives you that warm goodness with every bite.
Value: I would rate the value of the meals as average as compared to other similar restaurants. This may sound negative, but I don’t mean it to be. We paid just under $20 for a Combination Plate, a Mexican pizza and two soft drinks. That’s probably the middle of the road for what people spend at lunch and probably a little below what you would pay at a nice sit-down Mexican dinner. When you combine the quality of the food with the price you’ll appreciate all that goes into your dining experience.