A common axiom in the restaurant world is "the seedier the place, the better the food," or words to that effect.
If that adage is true, then is living proof.
Sitting in a tiny block of mostly empty businesses on the west end of Gulf to Bay Boulevard, Marcela’s is the definition of no-frills dining.
The interior is small and sparsely decorated. There is visible plywood on many surfaces. Tacky plastic tablecloths cover the tables.
And the only menu is a dry-erase board with small, crooked lettering hanging above the back wall.
But what Marcela’s lacks in style, it makes up for in substance. As in, the tacos they serve are of a substantially high quality.
Slightly crispy, thin tortilla shells surround the fillings, which include bistek (steak), pollo (chicken), chorizo (sausage), pastor (pork) and alambre (beef).
Each taco comes loaded with mounds of flavorful, tender meat, plus cilantro, diced onions and a slice of avocado. Heap on a spoonful of the homemade salsa and you'll be in taco heaven.
By far the most delicious of the four I tested was the alambre, a big, beef-filled baby loaded with green peppers, red peppers, fried onions and topped with cilantro and avocado.
When my dining companion asked what it tasted like, I answered, “everything!”
The tacos at Marcela’s may cost a bit more than at most establishments, at $1.99 apiece, but let me assure you, they are well worth it.
Who needs fancy tablecloths anyway?
1623 A Gulf to Bay Blvd.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday