The Tacos Above the Rest


Hannah Kos, Staff Writer

The Downtown Market is a remarkable place on its own, filled with interesting shops and interesting people; bright lights; a cool feel; and a modern, open look. Nestled in the back, pressed into a corner lies Tacos El Cuañdo, one of the most authentic yet flexible taco restaurants in Grand Rapids.

Although Tacos El Cuañdo only has limited options, this should not be an issue if you are a fan of authentic Mexican food. Mario Cascante and Hector Lopez, the creators of Tacos El Cuañdo, are bringing Latina Mexican flavors to Michigan food. Most of their ingredients are found from places nearby, but the flavors come from thousands of miles away.

The tacos, a favorite among many, are exceptional with the few ingredients that come on the soft, corn, doubled-up shells: traditional Mexican style. However, they do offer the typical “Qdoba” extras if you want to add more to your taco than the normal meat and cheese. 

Tacos El Cuañdo also offers a large assortment of Mexican drinks that pair wonderfully with your food. From Limeade to Mexican Coke (and Pepsi’s) to Jarritos Sodas, you are bound to find something you like.

Not only is their food flavorful, but their presentations are artisanal. Each food item that comes out is simple, yet still picture-worthy, especially among the unique backdrops you can find in The Downtown Market.

You can almost expect it to be at least fifteen-minute wait just for a few tacos, but they are well worth it. The service is slow and they are infamous for serving incorrect orders. On more than one account they have forgotten to add tacos, messed up the protein on my order (to be fair they have eight different options, including three vegan), or flat out missed an item I was ordering. While offering accommodations when they mess up, it can be slightly annoying to have to hang around for another fifteen minutes to wait for the item they messed up in the first place.

During your wait or once you get your tacos, the fresh salsa bar is worth a visit. On the side of the cashier, it is virtually hidden if you didn’t know what you were looking for; the “hidden mickey” of salsa bars, if you will.  Regular salsa to salsa verde, spicy to sweet, Tacos el Cuañdo has you covered for the perfect extra that you were missing, yet couldn’t quite… put your tongue on.   

At the end of a long lunch, the long wait and just-as-long “re-wait” is worth it. Tacos el Cuañdo promises one thing: authentic Mexican food, and they do their job no matter how long it takes. The extra minutes spent waiting will be forgotten as soon as you take that first bite.