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Queso a-go-go



Adobo Taco Co's. tacos de pescado adobo, marinated fish tacos in adobo sauce with onion and cilantro. (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

Adobo needs to work on its special sauce, but it definitely has the cheese

With decor that seems equal parts IKEA (light fixtures and chairs) and Mexican market (bark-paper hangings and objects in copper, clay, and wood), Adobo Taco Co. comes across as a homemade but heartfelt attempt at a contemporary Mexican environment. It's a little spare, but otherwise not at all unpleasant. The name Adobo, on the other hand, implies culinary tradition: Adobo is a classic marinating paste made of chiles, garlic, spices such as cinnamon and clove, dried herbs, and, usually, vinegar or orange juice for acidity. In general, Adobo's menu hews to the traditional, despite the occasional appearance of unexpected ingredients such as pineapple.

Tacos al pastor marinated in adobo are the declared specialty, presenting us with the equivalent of a "kick-me" sign. Kick them we won't, but we will question the lack of intense, adobo flavor. The pork pieces, chopped and served with onion, cilantro, and a slab of pineapple (traditional in this case), were OK but indifferent. At $3.75 a pair, they were the cheapest of all the tacos, but still, we expected more. Equally small in size, the tacos de pescado adobo were more flavorful, the sauce actually having an impact in this case. Be warned that the fish is chopped, not served as a battered fillet, and it's all the better for it. Don't even think of ordering these in flour tortillas; the corn are very delicate and just what's called for.

To not provide the obligatory chips and salsa is almost suicidal in San Antonio, but to provide them at a charge is nearly as heretical. Here, a three-sauce version of an available five-sauce spread arrived automatically, and we were just as automatically charged for it. True, the presentation is inventive, with tall-necked flasks, cast aluminum receptacles, etc., but the proof is in the product and only the green sauce aroused interest. The house-made chips, however, proved their mettle as a substitution for the packaged saltines served with the coctel de camaron. The coctel is another case of excessive invention in the serving department: martini-shaped glass in a secondary container with marginally useful ice in the bottom - lots of show, in other words. There is a reasonable amount of shrimp in this full-to-the-brim affair, and if you are partial to sweet, ketchupy sauce, then this is for you. For me, it needs much more of the anticipated lime.

   Adobo Taco Co.

IH 10 W at Wurzbach
11:30-10 Mon-Thu,
11:30-9 Fri;
12:30-9 Sat;
1:30-7 Sun
Price range $7.50-$12
Major credit cards accepted
Handicapped accessible

Cheese figures prominently in many of Adobo's offerings: alambres with fajita, pork chop, or mushrooms and bell pepper; quesadillas with chorizo, pork, and chicken; quesos fundidos with chorizo, shrimp, or pork. And, though not mentioned on the menu, it comes atop a platillo de arrachera chipotle . Think of arracheras as the original fajita, marinated but not sliced, and not served sizzling with onions and chiles. Reasonably tender, adequately large, nicely flavored with a thin chipotle sauce, and maybe a little too generously endowed with melted cheese, the arrachera was one of the few items sampled that almost justified its price, $11.50, in relative San Antonio terms. Good refrieds and very plain white rice completed the picture.

The chicharron de queso) an impressively large tuile (or teja) of fried cheese scraped from the griddle and rolled into a cylindrical shape, is a little greasy, but almost too good - and much more than any person needs to eat. It's just fried cheese, after all.

Crepas de cajeta, cheesecake with three topping selections, and flan de queso are the house-made desserts at Adobo. We can vouch for the flan: The caramel sauce is good and plentiful, and the texture (cream cheese is added) is agreeably dense. Add all of the above together, however, (no drinks but water) and the total comes to just shy of $50 with tax and tip, a figure that diminishes dessert's luster. Not a fan of huge portions (small but exquisite servings are just fine in my book), I nevertheless feel that the customer deserves value in one form or another, and I'm not convinced Adobo has yet figured out how to offer it - or to emphasize the namesake sauce, for that matter. We'll keep checking.

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