If you go
* What: San Marcos, 1818 E. Main St.* Price range: $1.50 tacos-$17 Siete Mares (soup)/seafood mix* Alcohol: No* Phone: 423-771-1910
For several years, I have driven past San Marcos Restaurant on Main Street on my way to eat somewhere else.
My nephew, who revels in finding culinary hidden gems as much as I do, turned me onto it and I've been back twice since. It's very good. Last week, I overheard the guys who are painting our house bragging on the tortes at San Marcos, so that will be my next order.
The menu is fairly extensive with about two dozen platters, including a variety of dishes using fish, shrimp, chicken and steak. All platters come with rice, beans and tortillas. You can get your chicken breaded, fried or grilled, for example.
There are also soups, gorditas, tacos, breakfast items, desserts, sandwiches, nachos, taco salads, chimichangas, quesadillas and burritos.
Not all Mexican restaurants welcome diners with a basket of chips and salsa, as this seems to be more of an American thing, but San Marcos does, and the salsa was pretty terrific.
Most of the menu items are in Spanish, which is what is mostly spoken here. But the menu includes English translations and pictures of the items for those who might be intimidated or unsure what to order.
I've had the tacos, pupusas (which are actually an El Salvador item, but they have them and they are good) and now the fajitas with shrimp, chicken and steak ($14.99). I've been happy with all of them.
The fajitas were like getting two meals actually. I got them to go, and the meal came in two Styrofoam containers. Rice, refried beans, a roasted jalapeno and a small side of avocado, pico, lettuce and sliced radishes were in one dish; big helpings of sauteed onions, bell peppers and the three proteins in the other.
Corn tortillas in a foil pouch completed the meal. Everything was delicious, and there was more than enough food, which for the price, was about right.
Located near the corner of Main and Willow streets, it's an easy location to find. The dining area is neither too big nor too small, with enough seating for a decent crowd. On the occasions I've been there, that's largely been work crews, which in my experience is usually a good sign as these guys know where the best places are to eat lunch.
The kitchen is surprisingly big. The wait staff has always been friendly and helpful.
We have several places in town now that offer a great taco, but San Marcos has so much more to offer. I'll be back.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.