Tacos del Sur is kind of hidden away in a strip mall called LanSunny Plaza, behind the Walgreens at the corner of Lancaster and Sunnyview. But it’s worth seeking out, because it offers a delicious sandwich you will not find anywhere else in Salem.
The sandwich is called a pambazo ($6) and it is most associated with Mexico City, though you can find versions of it elsewhere in central Mexico.
The version Diego makes at Tacos del Sur is very authentic. He starts with a fresh soft white roll called a telera. This is the typical bread roll used to make Mexican sandwiches called tortas. The roll is cut in half and brushed on both sides with a bright red guajillo chili sauce. Then the roll is toasted on the flat top on both sides. On the top side the sauce cooks into the crust of the bread giving it a toasty, spicy flavor and distinctive color.
Meanwhile Diego puts chorizo sausage that his wife Clotilde makes from scratch on the flat top and combines it with some cooked potato. This will be the filling for the pambazo. In the end it is all put together with a thin layer of refried beans, queso fresca, crema, and lettuce. The result is a big sandwich with a flavor combination that is hard to beat.
If you don’t come with a big appetite, one pambazo will feed two. It’s best eaten with a knife and fork. The pambazo is not on the regular menu above the counter. It’s one of the chalk board specials on the wall. There are four other tortas featured on the chalk board like the ranchera ($7) that comes with a little bit of everything.
The pambazo got its name from pan basso, or “low bread,” which during the time when Mexico was ruled by Spain was a kind of bread made for the lower classes using inferior flour. There is nothing inferior about the pambazos at Tacos del Sur, and you’d have to travel a long way to get another like it.
Tacos del Sur also has all the other usual taqueria dishes including tacos ($1.50) served on two full-size tortillas with eight choices of meat. An unusual taco is chicharron en salsa verde, which is pig skin stewed in a green chili sauce — only for the adventurous gringo eater. Clotilde makes chicken tamales every few days so they are fresh (2 for $6 with rice and beans). The ones we tried were very good. They also offer sopes (2 for $6), huaraches (2 for $7), and a variety of typical plates served with rice and beans. All in all, a very good selection.
Diego and Clotilde have been running their taqueria at this location for six years. They were doing a good takeout business the afternoon we were there. The folks working in the stores on Lancaster seem to have figured out where to get a good lunch.
We hope more folks will discover their somewhat hidden location. They deserve to be successful for making all their food from scratch and offering authentic interior Mexico food at reasonable prices.
TACOS DEL SUR
1970 Lancaster Dr. NE Suite 131
Salem, Oregon 97305
Monday – Saturday 10:30 am to 10 pm, Sunday until 9:30 pm