Chelitas Taqueria & Restaurant
321 Main Street
Springfield, OR 97477
(541) 736-7441

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Eugenified.com rating: 1 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 5

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Update, Aug 2015:

This place is long gone.

Original Review, Feb 2011:

So I happened to be slumming it over in Springfield a few days ago and spotted a newish Mexican taqueria across the street. It was fairly dark and foreboding looking, thus I decided to skip it. I pictured myself walking in the front door with my surprisingly heavy guitar case, and suddenly everyone in the place would stop, turn, and glare at me. So imagine my surprise when a day later I went by the same spot in the evening and found a nice, clean, well-decorated Mexican taqueria in the exact same spot. It’s amazing what interior lighting can do for your image.
Apparently this place was opened by a family about 4 months ago. Blah blah, please fill in your own cute entrepreneurial family story here. I’m bored. Let’s eat!

But first, the decor: As I said before, you can’t really see inside the place during the day, but once you step inside, you will find a tastefully decorated little place. Sure, they did it all on a very tight budget, so it’s basically nice colored paint and some tables/chairs. That said, it’s done with a good sense of layout and style. I learned that the mother of the family has an interest in art, and it shows through in the nice color design of this place.

Counter: As per the grand taqueria tradition, they have a complicated and confusing board on the wall showing the menu items. There are other boards, whiteboards, chalkboard, pieces of paper…listing specials, other stuff, and confusing info. Step back from the counter, take a deep breath, relax, and try to figure it all out. (Other examples of this signage chaos off the top of my head: La Buffa Taqueria and Taqueria Mi Tierra).

Es muy clean: I’ve never gotten around to writing a review of Taqueria Mi Tierra in Eugene. At one point, I was really enamored with Mi Tierra. 99 cent tacos in a casual location with free chips and salsa…what’s not to like? I’ll tell you: Grungy oily tables, freezing cold temps in the winter, and grungy oily customers from the homeless-drug-addict-molester-half-house-y Blair Blvd area of Eugene. Chelitas solves all these problems (except for the price issue, but that’s not really a problem; see below). Chelitas is clean clean clean. It was also nicely heated when I visited on a cold evening. And the clientele appears to be freakishly well-mannered Springfieldites. No homeless or half-house residents in sight or on location. Probably they’re all at the Silver Lace strip club one block up the street.

El food: The food is basic taqueria with a twist: the meat is much higher quality that you would expect. At Mi Tierra and Super Taco in Eugene, you get 99 cent tacos with mysteriously gristle-y beef or chicken or pork. At Chelitas, you get a $2 taco with very nice quality beef or chicken or pork. It’s that simple. Pay more, get better quality. That’s a deal that I can live with. Especially since I am easily disgusted by bits of rubber band, eraser, dried silicon, and other detritus in my beef/chicken/pork (that’s what those disgusting parts of the meat seem like to me).

Carnitas: The carnitas is good but not as good as The Mission’s but better than Jalisco’s, Chapala’s, and Mi Tierra’s. Oddly, it’s quite similar to El Torito’s carnitas.

Etc: Free chips. Good salsa. Good service from the owner’s youngish, friendly daughter. Mexican TV. Decent tasting squeeze bottle of chile verde-type sauce.

Flan: I don’t like flan, but I heard someone else try to order it, and they told him it had sold out. For some reason, I like the fact that they run out of stuff like that (by the way, everything is homemade at Chelitas). I’ve never been to Chili’s and had them tell me something was sold out. They just rip open another frozen box of whatever.

Beans: Another taqueria that does not offer a substitute for refried beans. Sigh.

Summary: Nice place with surprising good quality food. No Michelin stars, but a very solid performer in the taqueria category.

Update: They have raised the price for the tacos to $2.50 each, so it is getting a little less reasonable. Also, they no longer give free chips and salsa. Tried the chicken tacos this time and they were delicious. Beef tacos are ok, but not as good as their chicken version.

Eugenified.com rating: 1 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 51 vote, average: 3.00 out of 5

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