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Abuelo's Mexican Food Embassy

Update 3/7/16: Abuelo's is closed.

In a word: Again with the Middletonian middle of the road - we demand chiplomatic immunity from this chain.

The specs: #0163
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at B^2, Rick, and Yelp; official web site; Abuelo's Mexican Food Embassy on Urbanspoon

JM ate two enchiladas (one shredded beef with chile con queso, and one chicken with green chile) and a lemonade.
Nichole also ate two enchiladas (cheese with chile colorado, and espinaca with salsa ranchera) and a Dr Pepper.
The bill was $19, or $9.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Abuelo's a B; Nichole gave Abuelo's a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Latest Abuelo's Mexican Food Embassy news and reviews

Though our server broke ranks from the phalanx of idle black-clad waitstaff to ably and warmly take care of our meal, her hospitality wasn't quite enough to make us want to come back.

The food was OK. If you do go, the "papas con chile," while incongruous (they're just cheezy potatoes), were fine comfort food for this rainy day. But the venue would not have passed Rose's white glove test. How can a place that's been open only a couple weeks have sauce of indeterminable origin splattered on the walls and inside the menus? That was unsettling, to say the least. As was the cathedral-like space, the overstaffed floor, and the total lack of customers.

We know that places with Mexican food and an attached bar on the West side have been limited since Chi-Chi's closed, but seriously, you can find better in town.


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Just wanted to add a note of caution for the vegetarians out there... there is meat/animal products in almost everything at Abuelo's, including the rice and refried beans. Even the tortillas for the meatless enchiladas are fried in animal lard. According to their servers, the veggie fajitas are the only truly vegetarian menu item.

On the contrary, Abuelo's prepares their tortillas for the enchiladas in canola oil. There are several vegetarian options, including the Papas con Chile.

How high and mighty of all of you reviewers! I can tell you all are the critics that have never had to do any real dirty work yourselves! So wild you are trying the enchiladas and dissing someone that probably just began their training! Maybe she could tell you were both snobs

Hi Anonymous - we weren't dissing the server, for sure - she was great. We *were* unhappy with the grime and the ho-hum food. If the enchiladas aren't their specialty, please just let us know what is good.

Went to Abuelo's tonight. It wasn't bad, but we're never going back. (Whenever we go to a new Mexican restaurant, it's as if God feels obligated to remind us that we should never choose against Casa de Lara again!)

Throughout our meal, we were spoken to by about five Abuelo's employees, none of whom displayed any emotion above indifference. I figure one or two staffers might be crabby at any given instant, but five? Something seems amiss. I did like the all-black uniforms and the cathedral space, though. That was pretty nice. The place seemed immaculately clean to me.

The $2.99 mojitos were refreshing and well-made. However, they turned out to be the high point. The tortilla chips could've been Tostitos, the salsas could've been Pace. My guest's chicken fajitas looked like any old cubed chicken wrapped in any old storebought tortilla. I chose relatively well; the chiles rellenos were very good ... but not as good as at Casa de Lara, and slightly more pricey.

The papas con chile were a pathetic side dish. They smacked of those boxes of powdered potato dust, and were like dorm food. The rice was worse than Papa John's (no kidding). The refried beans were tasty.

Probably my favorite thing on the plate was the tiny hot pepper. It looked like it could've come from a still life, and was crunchy, juicy, and relatively spicy. After I at my guest's, though, I realized I'd overdone it. Those little peppers pack a wallop!

So, yeah ... glad I tried it, but I'm not going back. The drink specials looked pretty good, but Pedro's is closer ... and better.

I've only been once, but i liked it. I thought it was overpriced, but good. And that was a bit surprising since i think most of the Mexican restaurants in Madison are mediocre at best. The best Mexican food in town is still at Sacremento Bakery (closest thing to my treasured soCal burrito stand), but that is a different experience entirely...

Went there for the first time last night with JM and two other and everyone seemed to enjoy it nexcept JM, who is porbably ordering the wrong things. The grilled chicken salad was a wonderfully uncommon mix that I wouldn't change at all. The salsas were good and the chips were very thin and very welcome. The desert nachos were (at least on one bite) perfect, and otherwise generally very good.

The only problems I had at all were the mariachi (who was fun and talented - but made a business meeting hard to do) and the fact that they don't have horchada. All mexican restaraunts (especially ones that want to be authentic) should be required to have it.

Hey John, see my comment just posted on the review of the A's. On the subject of authentic Mexican restaurants, it's mad topical.

The DPF people say that Antojitos el Toril has excellent horchata.

Hello everyone,

My name is Steve and I am the General Manager at your Abuelos's here in Middleton. I just wanted to let you know that we take all of your comments, criticism, and praise to heart in an effort to continuously better ourselves. A few things that I do want to mention:

-We do not use any animal fat type of oil. We use Canola oil for sautee items and our fryers are filled with vegetable oil.

-Horchata: we would love to have this as well! Our Corp. Chef is still looking for a product that we feel is of the right quality, and that can be distributed to all 39 locations. We are working hard on this, as we do get alot of requests for it

-And finally, just a few misc. things....We do home make all of our food. Most of it is made 2-3 times per day, as we are looking to get the best possible product to you, our valued guests. We take reservations now, for any size party, any time, for up to 4 months out. And thanks for the kind words about my staff. They are put through a long and difficult training process, and they work hard at what they do. But if there are ways we can improve that, or make our service to you better, please let me know!

Thanks for time in reading this!!

Steve Hable
General Manager
Abuelo's Middleton

I don't know where Madison is, but I ate at one in Carrrolton, Texas and thought it was fabulous. The waiters were nice and helpful. It was beautiful, clean and very upscale. Although it was a bit pricey and will be special treat for my family to go, I didn't think their prices were out of line with most of the other restaurants in the Metroplex. I went twice in a week (my son treated me out the first time) and was impressed both times. Good suggestions from the the waiter. Hope your opinon can be changed by eating at a more able one.

My husband and I decided to try Abuelo's in Middleton, WI recently on our anniversary. And I have to say I was greatly disappointed. I am a strict vegetarian for medical reasons, and the only thing I could order was a so-called vegetable fajita. It was almost all onions (which I specifically asked them not to include as I am allergic), along with a very small selection of other veggies. I could not order any protein because they apparently put bacon in everything, including the beans! I have never heard of a Mexican restaurant where you cannot order plain beans without meat. As a warning to any vegetarians out there, they also use lots of chicken broth, even in their rice. The wide use of such seasonings must be to mask the food because it is not very fresh. If you don’t want to spend $15 for a glorified salad, I recommend that you save your money and try Panchero's Mexican Grill across the street at Greenway station, the food is quarter the price and unlike Abuelo's, it IS vegetarian friendly.

I have never heard of a Mexican restaurant where you cannot order plain beans without meat.

Oh, sister, you are gonna hate Mexico.

FYI...in searching for a lunch meetup spot on the west side, I realized that your thumbtack for Abuelo's on The Map is horribly off. Okay, not horribly, but a quarter mile off? Half mile?

Chicken fajitas -- texture of chicken "double knit", tortillas not fresh, bar drinks skimpy and pricey. OK flavors in salsa and poco de gallo. Would not return.

We live not quite 2 hours from Madison and make the drive specifically to eat at Abuelos....we are Native Texans and Abuelos is TexMex at it's finest! A+ is what it gets in our books, we eat it in Dallas and we eat it in Madison! The green chili is wonderful, we get it every time no matter what we order. We haven't ordered anything that isn't tasty. The 'hot shot' of salsa that we put in the regular salsa is just right because if your forehead isn't sweating it isn't hot enough!! You get two thumbs up from us, and Carmela is the best, we ask for him to wait on us if he's working! We felt like it was Christmas when we discovered Abuelos in WI!!! :)

I used to work at Abuelo's. It's pretty clean. When I worked there Abuelo's always ranked in the high 90's. As anyone who works in the food industry will tell you it is impossible to get a perfect score. I'm not exaggerating when I say that. It reflects badly on the person grading the venue if they didn't find anything wrong such as a ice scoop left in the ice tray. The salsa, guacamole, and beans are made fresh on a daily basis from scratch as are the chips... they are most certainly not tostitos and pace, nor do they taste like it. I don't work there anymore, but I still eat there from time to time. Its really good in my opinion. There aren't a lot of vegetarian options listed, but there are vegetarian options. The papas are vegetarian and you can get zucchini as a side. The guacamole is vegetarian too. We used to have a couple of women come in who would order guacamole tacos which aren't listed but can be requested. There is also a gluten free menu.

Abuelo's is the absolute best. The staff is great and the restaurant is alway clean. The best dish on the menu (I mean off the menu) is the Chicken Mojo de Ajo. It was taken off the menu but if you tell them that's what you want, they will make it for you. I emailed and ask why it was taken off and someone from the corporate office called me in about 2 days and told me they would make any dish I wanted. There raspberry tea and flan is excellent! I could eat there every day of the week.

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