100 E 8th St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Sun-Thurs: 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Fri-Sat: 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Appetizers: $2 – $10
Lunch Specials: $7
Burritos & Fajitas: $6 – $14
Specials: $12 – $14
Taqueria Mercado has been our favorite lunch place in Downtown Cincinnati for a while, it’s ridiculous it’s taken us this long to finally share our love of their delicious tacos and burritos with everyone else. For that, we sincerely apologize.
What makes Taqueria Mercado great isn’t the fact that they are cheap, or the easy to get to location, nor the fact that they are huge and have a ton of seats. It’s the flavor and quality, and they are mind-blowingly amazing, especially since the majority of Mexican restaurants in Greater Cincinnati are in that “just okay” area and tend to copy each other. There are other great places, definitely, but Taqueria Mercado is one of our absolute favorites.
Tacos are done right here – with corn tortillas and fresh, delicious ingredients. Salt, limes and cilantro are used in just the right amounts to compliment and bring out the best in the dishes while never overpowering them. All of the food is colorful, fresh and just stupidly delicious.
When you enter Taqueria Mercado, it’s just a giant room with tables. You seat yourself and not long after are given a menu. There’s also a nice large bar, and the kitchen has a half wall with the top part being glass so you can see into it.
Most Mexican restaurants may have conditioned you to getting chips and salsa for free immediately upon entering. However, such is not the case at Taqueria Mercado – they cost $2, but considering how cheap everything on the menu is and how amazing the chips are, I’d say it’s justified.
On the day we decided to review them, we got the Fajita Nachos to begin instead of chips and salsa. They come with your choice of chicken or steak – we picked chicken – grilled alongside onions and green peppers and layered on top of a bed of chips, refried beans and lettuce, then topped with cheese, jalapenos, sour cream and pico de gallo.
The tortilla chips are amazing: perfectly crisp with a hint of lime and finished with just the right amount of salt. The combination of ingredients was addicting and this plate could have been a meal on its own.
One of our entrees was the Carne Asada, or Steak Plate. It’s a simple seasoned and grilled steak with refried beans, rice, avocado, lettuce and pico de gallo. The marinated steak was juicy and so tender it fell apart easily under the slightest pressure of the knife. It had a similar and absolutely delicious salty-lime flavor to it.
The Burrito is pretty much all the most common items (refried beans, rice, lettuce, cilantro, cheese, sour cream and meat) wrapped up into a convenient burrito. We got the large, which was truly impressive and could rival a Chipotle burrito in size. Although this was far more delicious than Chipotle could ever hope to be – the marinated meat, cilantro, cheese and sour cream is always a winning combo in my book.
One of my other favorite things about Taqueria Mercado is that they aren’t afraid to serve authentic Mexican – in a land of Tex-Mex the tacos and such here are the real deal. You can even find items uncommon here in the US, like tongue and tripe. If you don’t want to order from the bar you can find other great drinks like a horchata – a sweet and cinnamony rice milk drink that is amazing. To top it off the menu is even in both English and Spanish.
We finished our lunch with Tres Leches Cake – one of our absolute favorite cakes and Taqueria Mercado does them justice. One had strawberry and the other orange. The cakes have three delicious layers soaked and served in a sweet cream. If the amazing Mexican entrees and appetizers don’t entice you to visit Taqueria Mercado, then these cakes should. They are the king of cakes.
Our only wish for Taqueria Mercado would be for the service to get a bit better. The waiters are friendly but it takes an awful long time for food to come out. I care much less about this at dinner but for lunch it would be nice if they found some way to speed it up. It can get awfully packed and unless you’ve got 1.5-2 hours for lunch you’d probably be better off somewhere else. It’s a shame since the food is so freaking delicious.
Where’s your favorite Mexican restaurant in Cincinnati? What do you think of Taqueria Mercado? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
To see more pictures check out our Taqueria Mercado photo album on Facebook. While you’re there, like us too.
Verdict: One of the Best Mexican Restaurants in Cincinnati
Taqueria Mercado has a lot going for it – location, price, generous portions, a great bar and most importantly a full menu of fantastic dishes. Being in downtown Cincinnati there is no parking other than paid lots or street.
The food at Taqueria Mercado features authentic dishes and even some rarely seen items like tripe and beef tongue alongside the usual beef, pork and chicken. There are many vegetarian options available as well for those who wish to avoid meat. There really isn’t much more to say other than the food is absolutely delicious, filling and affordable.