The name of this place is no lie. In the border town of Douglas, it appears to be the restaurant closest to Mexico. Conversations among staff and customers are in Spanish, and our Spanish is no better than their English, so when we stepped up to the counter, most of our ordering was done by pointing at the menu (which is bilingual).
Local tipster Patty Ortiz had directed us to Border Taco with the promise, “It’s like grandma is in the kitchen.” Believe me, my grandmother did not make tacos this delicious! (My grandmother probably never heard of a taco.) The list of potential ingredients is long, including beef tongue, beef head, beef rind, shrimp, and steak; and all are available in big burritos as well as modest-size tacos. Jane and I were especially fond of the smoky red carne adobada, the chile verde replete with vegetable flavor, the dark and beefy barbacoa. Fried shrimp were less impressive; like the chile relleno, their flavor was subdued.
Although Border Taco is located in an utterly boring mall (just yards away from a Taco Bell) and the spacious dining room is so clean it seems on the verge of being sterile, this is a restaurant with soul, not only in the food but in the ambience. Some of that ambience you actually can smell: menudo simmers, beef grills, roasted hot chilies sweeten the air. And décor actually is quite personal. On the wall hangs a portrait of a tricked-out Ford pickup truck. On the mantle, below the flat-screen TV, are portraits of people that we presume are the owner’s family. And not far away from that are glass bricks installed in the wall in the shape of a cactus.
Diners who come as a foursome can avail themselves of a family platter (steak, chicken, shrimp, salad, chili, rice, beans, and tortillas) at under $10 per person.