The Place: Most Wanted Taco Shop
9822 N. 7th Street
The Setting: Most Wanted Taco Shop in Sunnyslope is perhaps better identified as the restaurant formerly known as Santos Lucha Libre. It used to be a quirky Mexican wrestling themed restaurant with vibrant pink and turquoise walls, mask-sporting mannequins, and a generally eccentric atmosphere that made it a standout eating establishment. Following a change in ownership, the restaurant, while retaining its menu and culinary quality, has lost some of that appeal with a new name. And although it kept some vestiges of its prior identity, like a painting of a luchador, a disco ball suspended from the ceiling, and the occasional metallic gold wall, the space now feels lofty...and somewhat generic. This new restaurant, however, has gained space over its predecessor following the closure of an adjacent bar, but this comes at the price of losing some of the intimacy and weirdness that differentiated Santos. That said, the restaurant is clean, the service is accommodating, and there are plenty of seats.
The Food: The true strength of Most Wanted is the food. It bills itself as a taco shop, but this is also an excellent stop for a burrito, and a sign out front that (accurately) advertises a one-pound burrito is a testament to this fact. Your options may seem limited at first, but within the broader categories of burritos, tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, and so on, there are subcategories of meat fillings and within those categories are different preparations, ordered by spiciness.
If you can't decide, it's more than likely you'll be offered samples of every meat. And this is where the quality really shines through. Most Wanted Taco Shop offers very well prepared, and above all, varied, meats. The pork al pastor is an excellent choice, with a smokey sweetness that shines through in behemoth burritos and tacos alike. The classic carne asada will not disappoint — some charcoal undertones cap off succulent steak flavors. Fish is available, and it is certainly excellent, although above-water protein is the focal point here. Savory and tangy red and green enchilada sauces are also a treat.
Once you select your filling of choice, Most Wanted functions like a Chipotle. Your in-progress meal will make its way down a counter, where you have the option of a variety of add-ins, including corn, cabbage, pickled onions (a personal favorite), and more, concluding at the cash register, where you can throw in a Jarritos soda or a horchata as well.
Why We Like It: In honesty, there's not a whole lot not to like. Most Wanted isn't blazing any trails, but its ingredients are excellent and varied and it fills a void in a neighborhood that could benefit from a restaurant renaissance. Even better, its options are highly affordable. A meat burrito goes for a reasonable $7.50 — not much more than at your neighborhood Filliberto's — and a small taco for $1.95.