it occurred to me recently that i’ve never written a proper ode to maciel’s, and honestly i find that unacceptable. so buckle yourselves in, friends, because i am about to gush.
i first met mr manuel, owner of maciel’s tortas and tacos downtown [and now a second location in cooper-young! more on that in a bit] when i volunteered at an event in 2017. i had vaguely heard of maciel’s but didn’t know where they were located or how their food was, but they had been hired to cater the thank you lunch at this event and my volunteer posting was to make sure they had everything they needed and generally problem solve if any issues came up. mr manny and his team were absolute delights and the food was delicious, so i decided to seek them out for lunch the following week.
i forget who i conned into going with me that first time, but as soon as i walked in the door mr manny recognized me and his face broke out in the biggest grin and i knew i had found my place. he comped my lunch that day because he’s the nicest human ever, and he gave me his number in case i ever had any catering needs. thus a beautiful friendship was born.
after that delicious first visit, i was hooked. anytime i had a lunch meeting downtown, i chose maciel’s and would wait in whatever line there was for as long as it took. because everything is delicious, i could pretty much close my eyes and point at the menu and i would wind up with something fabulous. and each time, mr manny would give me a free drink or chips and salsa on the house, thus ensuring my lifelong devotion and patronage.
a few years later i hired mr manny and his team to cater food for our year-end bridge builders celebration, and in late 2019 i heard rumors that mr manny was planning to open a second location in cooper-young. after some investigative work i realized it was going to be a stone’s throw from my house. i was both excited for my taste buds and nervous for my wallet and my waistline, because i knew i wouldn’t be able to resist. their original plan was to open in spring 2020, but obviously the world had a few other plans. they were able to finally open in december, and i am not exaggerating when i say i have gotten food from them at least once a week – sometimes more – since. i treat myself to maciel’s mondays, and it’s one of the greatest gifts i’ve given myself.
at this point you might be wondering about the actual food. i can honestly say i’ve never had anything from there that i didn’t like, but my absolute favorite are the fried avocado tacos followed closely by the fried fish tacos. if you want street tacos, i like chorizo, spicy shrimp, pastor, and tinga. the tortas and tostadas and nachos are great. the soup is great. all of it is great and you should go immediately. tell mr manny i sent you and there’s a solid chance you’ll get a free drink out of it.
and if you’re in memphis whenever it’s time for me to move, there’s a solid chance my farewell lunch will be on their patio.
downtown location: 45 s main st // 901.526.0037
cooper-young location: 820 s cooper st // 901.443.5346