Mas margaritas, por favor

Mas Taco Bar

The Braised Short Rib Bowl features tender ancho short ribs on a bed of brown rice, topped with bell peppers, pickled onions and cotija cheese.

The Braised Short Rib Bowl features tender ancho short ribs on a bed of brown rice, topped with bell peppers, pickled onions and cotija cheese.

photo by Stephanie Stiavetti

Good for: Strong drinks, hearty bites
Notable dishes: Shrimp Ceviche, Braised Short Rib Bowl
Mexican, Midtown

Mas Taco Bar

1800 15th St.
Sacramento, CA 95811

(916) 706-1330

Midtown’s R Street Corridor is known for its hipsterific bars and restaurants, catering to the young and hungry generation who have developed an adventurous palate and a penchant for eating out. There’s a formula restaurateurs can follow to create a millennial hit: global flavors, small plates, an outdoor patio, and a diverse alcohol and craft beer menu.

Mas Taco Bar has it all. Its bright and airy space sports a fantastically colorful bar, complete with eclectic hanging lights and accompanying brightly colored wiring.

There’s a decent beer selection with a handful on tap that includes a few locals. The remainder are a mix of artisan and mainstream varieties in cans or bottles. The cocktails are strong and well-crafted, though many of them lean sweet—some to an overwhelming degree. My Horchata-Colada ($11) was sweet but still passable within the context of the drink. The Watermelon Basil Margarita ($10, $8 during happy hour) was perfect on a 104-degree afternoon, but the pink-sugar rim sent it into gag-worthy sweetness. Margarita-lovers in a group (or singles wanting to get seriously f’ed up) can order 32-ounce goblets called the Margaritas Gigantes ($23-$26), guaranteed to have you stumbling down R Street in a joyful summer stupor.

The food menu at Mas Taco Bar offers a solid selection of tasty dishes, with a few confused misses. The Braised Short Rib Bowl ($8.75) was surprisingly healthy and deeply satisfying with tender, slow-braised ancho short ribs nestled in a bed of brown rice and topped with pickled onions, chopped bell peppers and a dusting of cotija cheese. The Shrimp Ceviche ($10, $5 during happy hour) was soul-quenching on a hot summer day with cooked shrimp, avocado, tomato, cucumbers, onion and a generous splash of lime.

The Americanized street-style tacos were hit or miss. I enjoyed the Pork Belly ($3.75), Butternut Squash ($3), and Drunken Chicken ($3), but I was underwhelmed by the Chicken Chorizo y Papas ($3.75), Beer Batter Fish ($3.75) and Bahn Mi Shrimp in a steamed bun ($3.75). The pricing was surprising, given how light some tacos were on filling. The chips and guacamole ($8) saved the tacos I wasn’t stoked on because everything improves tenfold when smothered with a heaping tablespoon of freshly made guac.

A few other items on the menu seemed … confused. The Mas Fries ($10, $5 during happy hour) are a favorite starter, but it’s an awkward construction of french fries covered with marinated steak, cilantro crème, onions guacamole and roasted red peppers. It tasted good, but the fries made me want to eat it with my hands, while the chunks of steak languished at the bottom of the bowl because, well, how are you supposed to pick up steak with a french fry? Tortilla chips would have made the dish a lot easier. The Black Bean Stew ($6) was equally awkward—literally a bowl of spiced black beans that you’re supposed to eat with a spoon—it also cried out for chips, which is how I ate it.

With its prime location, good flavor and strong drinks, Mas Taco Bar makes for a joyful R Street experience. It’s a win for anyone looking to consume mass amounts of food and liquor, especially during happy hour (weekdays 3 p.m.- 6 p.m.) when the most popular menu items reduce in price substantially.