By Doug Deal
Macon Community News
Tzango Cocina Del Mundo has been on my family’s culinary radar for a while. Although they are currently found downtown at 336 Second Street in the revitalized downtown Macon, we first discovered them when they were on Hartley Bridge Road in South Bibb.
Over the years, we have celebrated numerous family get-togethers, birthday parties, small celebrations and dinners with friends at their former location, but we have not been more than a couple of times since they moved downtown.
As it was our wedding anniversary, my wife and I tried to find a table at a few places, but due to particular patterns of crowds and special events, we ended up downtown and decide to haunt an old familiar place, Tzango.
A couple of years ago, we reviewed their tamales, which are made in-house following a family recipe that uses spicy marinated shredded chicken and delicious corn breading wrapped in banana leaves, instead of the traditional corn husks. These are still highly recommended, but since it was our anniversary, we wanted to try something different.
There are as many different preferences in salsa as there are Mexican restaurants, but Tzango’s salsa has a flavor and texture that is preeminent. It has just the right kick to liven things up, but it’s not so spicy that more sensitive palates can’t handle it.
For the family, we started with a bowl of queso (cheese) dip with tortilla chips. This appetizer is always a favorite for the kids and is an excellent treat to hold off hunger for a late dinner. It was delivered quickly and devoured thoroughly.
As a special drink, both of us adults settled on a classic frozen lime margarita with salted glass while the kids settled for virgin Sprites. The two of us are not frequent drinkers, but we thoroughly enjoyed the sweet and salty mix of the well-prepared Mexican restaurant staple. My trick is to spin the glass with each sip and refresh the salty note.
We were recognized by the owners, who make a point to get to know their customers and make them feel at home in their restaurant. The potent frozen concoction added just the right amount of celebration for our anniversary, and we suspected they might have thrown in a little extra tequila for our dinner.
The entree my wife and I selected was the Texas fajitas for two. Our server brought it to our table with the characteristic sizzle of a piping hot skillet and a cloud of steam. This pan was loaded with shrimp, steak, onions, different varieties of peppers, and onions. On the side, there were the usual tortillas (corn or flour), sour cream, tomato, and guacamole. As with everything we have ever had at Tzango, the quality was right on, without any sign of over or under cooking, which plagues most combinations of steak, shrimp, and vegetables. The flavors were nicely balanced, with the vegetables fresh and the meat tender.
We have never had bad service in our many visits to Tzango, and that night was no exception. One of my pet peeves in many restaurants is the failure to greet customers as they come in. Tzango’s dinner staff always acknowledges you and shows their appreciation with prompt service.
Since it was a special night, we chose not to get dessert at Tzango, but instead walked over to the new downtown dessert-only restaurant, Decadence. That was also a great experience that we may cover in a future story. However, Tzango also offers several outstanding dessert options.
The entire evening was a great way to share our anniversary as a family.
If you are not into fajitas or tamales, Tzango has many other options from the usual selection of authentic tacos to familiar crunchy tacos, to burritos as well as other house specialties. One recommendation is the mouth burning (and watering) “Fire Steak,” which is a 10-ounce sirloin topped with their fire-roasted salsa. This entree indeed packs some heat, so the skittish should try something a bit milder. On the milder side, a similar dish is the “Carne Asada” which leaves off the hot salsa and spicy peppers. Frankly, though, one would be hard pressed to find a disappointing item on the menu.
Tzango can be found online at www.tzangos.com and is open Monday through Friday 11 AM – 2 PM for lunch and open for dinner from 5-9 PM Monday through Thursday and 5-10 PM on Friday. Saturday hours are 4-10 PM. Tzango is closed on Sunday. With the new meters, parking is easy to find at all hours and is free after 8 PM.