Few things excite me more than finding a new taqueria in town. When I first saw Bandido Taqueria Mexicana in the tiny strip mall next to Subway just off Eastern Parkway near University of Louisville, I took notice but was unconvinced it was worth a visit.
And then I started reading the online reviews touting it as being the best California-style taqueria in the area. After a visit, I confirmed that, indeed, it is very much worth your time.
While it’s pretty nondescript from the street, the menu is diverse and filled with options and ingredients, including plenty of seafood choices. While it’s small (only a few tables, a picnic table inside and a small outside patio), it’s clean, bright and offers good service and reasonable prices.
The worst part about visiting Bandido Taqueria Mexicana is trying to decide what to order from the chalkboard wall of options. The menu includes tacos — ranging from seafood to mainstays like carnitas — quesadillas, burritos, nachos and more. A small chalk sign just inside the door touted burrito bowls, new to the menu.
Finally, a diablo shrimp burrito called my name, and since I was feeling hungry, I paired it with a pollo asada taco and a soft drink.
As soon as I had placed my order, the cashier directed me to a salsa and condiments bar filled to the brim with four salsas, pickled jalapenos and other veggies, limes and more. It was a nice touch.
Bandido is an order-at-the-counter and pick-up-at-the-counter joint, and my food was ready in just a few minutes. I snatched some salsa and a few veggies and was on my way back to my table to enjoy my Mexican feast.
I tore into the pollo asada taco first. It was packed with freshly grilled chicken, which was cut into small chunks, and topped with fresh pico (it looked hand cut) and a bit of guacamole. I topped it with some of the house-made habanero salsa, which isn’t over-the-top hot, but rather focuses on the unique flavor of the peppers. Ditto the serrano sauce I tried.
The taco was an impressive specimen, with its contents spilling out of the double corn tortillas and into the basket it came in. Really, it was as delicious as it looked, and I am already eager to try other tacos at Bandido.
Next I tackled the daunting burrito, and with one bite I got a sense of the freshness of the 12 (that’s no misprint) medium-to-large shrimp inside. The thick, reddish-brown diablo sauce brought plenty of spice and some smokiness (I’m guessing this one was made with roasted peppers), but it never overstepped its boundaries with the shrimp, which was front and center.
The addition of some refried beans only helped take the edge off. Truly a delicious burrito, and I could barely finish it. (That was partly because it was messy and began falling apart about halfway through. Totally worth it.)
The menu at Bandido is worth exploring further; in addition to the standards, there are multiple options for breakfast burritos, in addition to several flavors of elotes, a corn-on-the-cob street-food fave, including Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
The best bargains are the street-style tacos, which are just over $2 apiece when you buy three. But most of the burritos come in at around $6.50 or less, and quesadillas start at $4 for plain cheese. Nachos and fries combos start at $7.50, and nothing on the menu exceeds the tempting $9.50 surf and turf burrito, which is packed with grilled steak and shrimp.
I see more good reviews ahead for this place.
Bandido Taqueria Mexicana is located at 423 University Blvd. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.