3182 Packard Rd
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
Mon – Sat: 7am to 11pm
Sun: 10 am – 8 pm
Giant salsa-soaked, football-shaped sandwiches stuffed with fried pork or chorizo? A wide range of tacos, including regional specialties? Mexican baked goods baked fresh on site? It’s easy to overlook Tmaz Taqueria, tucked into a strip mall on Packard east of Platt, but it’s worth making the effort to find them.
It’s also worth knowing what the best dishes are. Most everything at Tmaz is at least good, but some items are truly great.
Guacamole – fresh, just the simple basics with great texture and a nice balance of flavors. If you somehow tire of the regular version, the Guacamole Verde, with tomatillos, is a nice variant.
The authentic kind, served on soft corn tortillas. When you decide how many to order, be aware that they use full-size tortillas, so they’re bigger than usual. All of the basics are here, but here’s the best of the best:
Al Pastor – bits of marinated pork with achiote, onions, and a touch of pineapple, these have a sweet-smoky flavor and great texture.
Barbacoa – shredded beef, flavorful and moist. Best with a squeeze of lime.
Camaron/Pescado Frito Empanizado – with crispy fried shrimp (camaron) or fish (pescado) and guacamole, these are tasty albeit not traditional outside of San Diego or Baja California.
Churrascos – listed on the “Tortas” menu, but the corn tortilla version gives you three excellent steak tacos with shredded vegetables and mayo, topped with grilled scallions and served with a sweet-ish red salsa. They added this for their Guatemalan friends and we’re glad they did. The scallions (you may need to redistribute them) and the salsa add an essential touch of sweetness that make these tacos extra special.
These massive sandwiches may be where Tmaz shines brightest. They can be a meal unto themselves, or, better, paired with rice and beans.
Torta Cubana – a distant relative of the traditional Cuban sandwich, a Mexican “torta Cubana” includes a lot of different meats, mostly pork. Tmaz’s version is a lovely, greasy, salty mix of pork, ham, chicken, and chorizo with sliced hot dogs and jalapeños. (I know, hot dogs? But trust us.)
Torta Ahogada – on one of those large, football-shaped rolls, this sandwich includes a generous filling of fried shredded pork and onions, with raw onions and avocados on top, covered in rich and spicy chile de arbol sauce.
Main Dishes / Soups
Among the dizzying array of tacos and tortas, it’s easy to miss the board with the main dishes. And the soups aren’t even listed.
Pozole – A traditional spicy Mexican soup with big chunks of pork and hominy kernels, served with lime (a squeeze of lime is a must!), onion, cilantro, and steaming hot tortillas. A meal on its own, it’s not listed anywhere we saw but you can ask for it. Also try their Caldo de Res, beef soup with chunks of corn on the cob, if they have it.
Chiles Rellenos – covered in a fluffy egg batter, stuffed with ground beef and carrots, soaked with sauce, and served with rice and beans, this is a great version of the dish. (The beans, which include bacon but also thinly-sliced hot dogs, can also be ordered vegetarian.)
This isn’t even a section on most reviews, but in addition to the expected cooler of US and Mexican soft drinks, Tmaz makes aguas frescas on site. We tried horchata (rice and almond), strawberry, and a mixed fruit cocktail, and they were all excellent.
After your meal, check out the bakery cases – it’s a limited selection, but very fresh. Other places in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti which have Mexican baked goods bring them in from elsewhere, but these are baked right at Tmaz. (Get there around 2:30 for fresh churros.)