In a word: Tikaled our fancy.
The specs: #01003
5906 Hwy 51, McFarland 53558
Details at Yelp
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JM ate the combo plate 11 (burrito, taco, enchilada with queso) and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the carnitas with an horchata.
The bill was $25, or $12ish/person, plus tip.
JM gave Palenque an A; Nichole gave Palenque an A- (see our grading rubric).
This location in McFarland has been home to some very unfortunate Mexican places. So let's say that our hopes were not high as we walked in. After perusing the menu, we thought the fare seemed to be fairly standard Mexican-American with a couple of twists.
Now, briefly, the negatives of Palenque:
- There is no anteroom to catch cold air, so if you sit by the door during winter you get to feel cold every 4 minutes.
- There's a salon next door, and their scents are noticeable.
There was nothing not to like about the food, which was all at the top of the comfort food game.
Nichole got a carnitas plate which was like movie popcorn in a good way, buttery and tender. This dish was served with the standard fajita sides of tortillas, rice & beans and a guac salad. The horchata was about the best version of it she's had in town. Not too watery nor too milky, it was loaded with cinnamon.
JM's smothered enchilada and burrito were tasty and filling, while the taco was a smallish letdown. The cheese sauce really was the star here and it's incorporated into many plates. The ground beef fillings were not larded with potatoes or needlessly heavy.
Palenque's most notable Madison competition is the venerable (and venal) Laredo's (boo). Even if we're boycotting L's for a time, it is hard to imagine we'd end up at Palenque instead of Cuco's or Los Gemelos on account of distance, which explains the minus behind Nichole's A. But in its category, Palenque is great on a warm day.