El Tapatio Family Mexican Restaurant
Cuisine and scene: This Mexican institution, long fronting the highway just outside of Ashland, is beloved by locals and travelers alike for its lack of a city meals tax. A 2008 move behind Ashland Motor Co. makes El Tapatio something of a hideaway, but newcomers have only to follow the green-white-and-red arrows through a car lot and past a physical-therapy clinic. Tucked out of sight as it is, the restaurant boasts a large parking lot and expansive dining room anchored with heavy, carved, wooden tables and tall-backed chairs, as well as deep booths along the walls.
Recommended: Burrito filled with scrambled egg and spicy chorizo is a nice change from the ubiquitous chicken or beef; fish tacos feature a crunchy breading around the fillets.
Alternative diets: Vegetarian options for tostadas, burritos and enchiladas, as well as seven vegetarian appetizers.
Beverages: Mexican and domestic, draft and bottled beers; house wines and sangria by the glass, half liter and liter; specialty margaritas; full bar; bottled and fountain sodas; juices, lemonade, horchata, iced and hot tea, coffee and hot chocolate.
Price range: Breakfast, $$7.95; daily lunch specials, $6.50; lunch combinations, $6.75 to 9.50; appetizers, $4.50 to $11; soups, $5 to $10; salads, $5.50 to $8.50; entrees, $7 to $24; a la carte items and sides, $2 to $7.50; desserts, $4.
Extras: Kids' menu; complimentary chips and dish of salsa come with a small carafe of additional salsa, so diners don't have to wait for refills; live guitar music on some evenings; logged perfect score on most recent health inspection.
Serving: From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Info: 1633 Highway 99 N., Ashland; 541-488-2276.
— Sarah Lemon