Taco Max is a weirdly great Mexican place in a mall. At this teeny joint in the Coddingtown Mall, Arturo—the guy working the grill, and taking orders, and waiting tables, and running the cash register—is a Culinary Institute of America graduate who used to own a Mexican restaurant in Miami. Various problems shut that business down, so now he’s back, gathering investors for another restaurant—and in the meantime, running what’s probably the best mall food stand around. He’s from Cuernavaca, so it’s a rare peek into that region’s cooking.

His food is well and lovingly executed, says Eat_Nopal. Following Arturo’s suggestions, he had cochinita pibil taco with tender, earthy pork and marinated red onions; fish al pastor taco (a beautiful hunk of pan-seared fish in achiote rub); and beautiful chicken vegetable soup. And a truly outstanding flan. It’s a flan napolitano, Cuernavaca style, which puts it somewhere between a normal flan and a cheesecake.

Arturo has dialed into the local farmers, too; he makes specials whenever he can get his hands on seasonal stuff from the area. He’s also very flexible and will do custom meals if you give him enough lead time.

The food is not perfect—it’s one man, and he has to make some compromises, like prefab tortillas. But overall this place is great, and Arturo really cares about his customers.

Taco Max [Sonoma County]
329 Coddingtown Center, Santa Rosa

Board Link: Taco Max (Santa Rosa)… EN smiles

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