Weekends, the grocery has steam tables set up for carryouts of shredded beef and pork, and sometimes tamales.
My affection for taquerias that are shoehorned into the most unlikely spots is no secret. But it's getting to the point where finding a Mexican restaurant in a small Wisconsin town is not unusual, but expected -- more likely in some spots, even, than finding a McDonald's. ("There must be a taqueria around here somewhere.")
Sauk City does have a McDonald's and a Culvers and a Pizza Hut, and a few family restaurants and a supper club. But if I'm anywhere near Sauk City, it's hard for me to resist a stop at La Mexicana, a grocery and small restaurant combo on Water Street, just around the corner from where Highway 12 crosses the Wisconsin River. For the highway-number-challenged, this is the way from Madison to Devil's Lake. (Unless you're taking Highway 113 and the Merrimac Ferry.)
La Mexicana has a small menu, but it's good. The chips are not complimentary, but worth a side order ($2.19) just for the fresh, homemade, cilantro-inflected pico de gallo that comes with the dark, thick tortillas. Or order a side of the pico de gallo to add to your tacos or tostadas. Tacos are simple, served with cilantro and onions; tostadas come with beans, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and cheese.
I'm not usually a huge burrito fan, as these increasingly football-sized food delivery systems can be just too much of the same, and sometimes bland. But here the burritos ($6.69) carry their weight well. The juicy and tender barbacoa (shredded beef) is a good pick; carne asada, al pastor, ground beef, chicken, chorizo and tongue are also on the menu. There's also a "mini" burrito ($5.69) that is "mini" only in that it is somewhat less huge than the regular burrito, but still probably more than enough for one person to eat for one meal.
However, I usually end up with either the chicken enchiladas ($7) or the chile relleno ($6), served with rice and beans, both of which used to be specials but have made their way onto the permanent menu. The enchiladas feature a deep, rich, almost smoky red sauce, and are so soft and crumbly that the corn tortillas seem to have merged on a molecular level with the chicken. Top it with smooth crema and some of that pico de gallo. The chile relleno (stuffed poblano peppers) have a little too much cheese per pepper and on one visit were incredibly too salty, but I haven't sworn off them yet.
The alambre el pastor was disappointing -- a big plate of chopped meat (available in pork, skirt steak or chorizo, or any two of the above) grilled with green peppers and onions, and topped with cheese, served with beans and corn tortillas. This was an onslaught of meat and salt -- I don't want to imagine what the chorizo version must be like.
Vegetarians and greens lovers are close to out of luck. None of the entrees are offered with beans as a filling option, and there are currently no salads on the menu. There's no meat in the chile relleno, and the kitchen says it's vegetarian; otherwise, it's create-your-own from sides of avocado, rice and beans, I guess.
Weekends, the grocery has steam tables set up for carryouts of shredded beef and pork, and sometimes tamales. And there's always a specials board, too. And up to 10 Mexican beers ($2.50/bottle) are on hand. There are a handful of Formica booths for seating, and the inevitable flat-screen TV for entertainment.
You were ready to head up to Devil's Lake anyway. Call ahead for takeout and make it a picnic.