The last time I wrote about Pablo's Tacos in Marshall was for the 2006 Isthmus Dining magazine, in an article about Mexican groceries that also serve food.
Since that time, Pablo has jettisoned the grocery aspect of the business and shifted into being a full-fledged restaurant. I liked being able to look at the Mexican foodstuffs while I waited for my meal, but getting rid of the shelves does make the dining area less claustrophobic.
You could say that the only negative thing about Pablo's is the fact that it's out in Marshall, but I'm not going to say that. I enjoy the drive. It makes a trip to Pablo's feel special. Marshall, on the far eastern edge of Dane County, is only a fifteen- to twenty-minute trip from the east side; less if you're in Sun Prairie or Cottage Grove (even less, obviously, if you live in Marshall.)
Marshall has an antique store, and if you want even more antiques, take Highway 73 north to Columbus. (That town has more darn antiques than anyplace I've ever seen.) Pablo's is a great place to stop on the way back from trips to Horicon Marsh or Lake Mills or even the Kettle Moraine.
My favorite time to go to Pablo's is for breakfast. Pablo makes excellent, filling, can't-stop-eating-this breakfasts. The breakfast burrito ($4), which is even somewhat larger than your head, comes with scrambled egg, chorizo (or your choice of other filling), cheese, beans and rice. The scrambled eggs ($5), served with rice and beans, can also have fillings added to order, like chorizo or ham, peppers and tomatoes.
The huevos rancheros ($6), delicately fried eggs with fresh chopped tomato on top, and served with rice and beans, is also killer. The huevos come with tortillas in a squat holder to keep them warm, and the smoky red salsa has a wonderful slow burn. I like the beans -- pinto, refried, flavorful, salty, somewhere between the whole bean variety and the completely pureed. Also new at Pablo's : breakfast is served all day, every day. Rounding out the morning menu are a cactus omelet and chilaquiles (both $6).
Pablo's namesake tacos ($2) are also fabulous, with a choice of skirt steak, shredded beef, ground beef, pork, chicken and chorizo. I find it hard not to go for the rich, stewed shredded beef. Tacos come with either lettuce and tomato, or onion and cilantro, and I've had both a hot green salsa and the smoky red.
Tortas, burritos, tostadas, tamales and quesadillas ($6-$8) round out the lunch menu. For dinner, steak, enchiladas, chimichangas, sopes, and taco salad ($7-$9) and, new to the menu, alambres ($10) and shrimp entrees -- in fajita, burrito, and quesadilla form ($8-$10). I admit I would have tried more of these if I did not find it so hard to tear myself away from the breakfasts. But I will say this: Pablo's is a personable sort of place where you can ask to have anything made the way you most like it. And I've never had a bad meal at Pablo's.
How do you get there? Take Highway 19 east out of Sun Prairie, or take I-94 east and get off at the Highway 73 exit; head north. Pablo's is on Hwy 19 (Main Street), near the intersection with 73.