In a word: A pair of star-crossed taquerias make their fare.
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JM ate the chicken nachos with a fountain drink.
Marijka ate the chile relleno with an horchata.
Nichole ate a chorizo sope, a cheese (i.e., chicken) quesadilla, and a champurrado.
Ryan ate two tacos with an horchata.
The bill was about $10/person, plus tip.
Nichole and Ryan gave Los Gemelos an A; Marijka gave Los Gemelos an A-; JM gave Los Gemelos a B+ (see our grading rubric).
Los Gemelos ("The Twins"), originally a grocery on Odana Rd., lived up to its name and caught some long-deserved attention when it opened a second location on State Street. Before we get flak for pulling an odious "we liked their earlier stuff" bluff, we'll admit to never having set foot in the grocery before reading about it in 77 Square.
We'd rather get flak for cheating on the List because that's exactly what we did, stopping in for some groceries, dinner and a beso on a hot summer night long before it was Los Gemelos' turn. No lamentamos nada.
For our "official" visit, we picked dinner at the downtown location. The menus are similar at both. The service was fast downtown, which made Ryan think Los Gemelos would be an ideal between-movie destination for Film Fest week. We were served the customary basket of chips with homemade salsas. The chips were warm and salted, but just a bit stale, as if they'd been made yesterday from the day-before-yesterday's tortillas.
The drink selection is good. There are no margaritas, but the Mexican bottled beer selection is wide. Nichole would recommend the champurrado to anyone who likes their hot cocoa sweet. It was rich, mostly made up of a slippery froth that stayed foamy to the end. Ryan would recommend the horchata to anyone at all:
Exceptionally flavorful. Whether that's because someone doubled the amount of powdered drink mix or the result of a homemade beverage carefully created I can't say.
JM's nachos with chicken were heavy, wet, and loaded with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes. Marijka's chile relleno was battered, fried and smothered in tomato sauce with a few jalapeño slices. It tasted good, and was quite saucy and puffy. The beans and rice were fine but filler.
Nichole and Ryan mixed and matched some antojitos, all of which were $3 or less. A sope came on a deep-fried, crisp oval of corn just slightly thicker than a tortilla, topped with chorizo, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and sliced avocado.
The quesadillas fritas are really something special for Madison. They're more like pasties: thick, deep-fried cornmeal pockets stuffed with cheese, vegetables and your meat of choice. (Something vegetarians should note - when we've ordered cheese items, they've often come with chicken. That was true of this quesadilla as well.)
The tacos are good too, as Ryan observed:
The double soft corn tortilla, garnished with chopped onion and cilantro, is the type of taco that makes my heart beat ever so slightly fonder. Bravo to Los Gemelos for serving them that way, and with what felt and tasted like especially fresh, soft tortillas.
We were all impressed. Our companions reported that they were also inspired to check out the grocery. They noted that the brand of tortillas from Chicago is the same as what they normally buy, but the grocery also had bags of fresh masa. We wondered if Los Gemelos makes their own tortillas to serve in the restaurant. We should go back and ask.