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Over the years, J&R Tacos, located in downtown Merced, as become one of our "go-to" restaurants when we want to enjoy delicious tacos, tortas, and other Mexican treats.  The food is amazing, the atmosphere is exciting, and the owners are super nice people.

As with all of reviews that I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.

Photo:  It's just after 2 in the afternoon on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2019, and J&R Tacos is a busy place in downtown Merced.  We'd hoped to sit outside on the patio, but all seats were taken.

Photo:  The "mission" of the restaurant is posted on the wall.  J&R Tacos is very different from any other Mexican restaurant that I've had the pleasure to enjoy, and it's not your "typical" taqueria.  The restaurant combines great food with super friendly staff, and a unique "vibe" that I've never felt at any other Mexican restaurant.

Photo:  From our booth, I take a look out to the patio, and Main Street in Merced in the distance, on this early Monday afternoon in late May.

Photo:  From the "Tacos" section of the menu, I ordered two fish tacos, as fish tacos just happen to be one of my favorite varieties of tacos, thanks to the many times I've visited Ensenada and San Felipe, in Baja California.

Each taco starts with two fresh, in-house made corn tortillas.  The fish isn't fried, as it's grilled.  If you order "everything" with your taco, which is the de facto standard, you'll be treated to tomato, pepper, onion and cilantro, which the menu refers to as "salsa."  The tacos are finished off with "crema," which is basically sour cream, and in the case of this wonderful restaurant, a touch of chipotle is added for added flavor.  A slice of lime adds to the presentation, and enhances the flavor.

You take one bite into one of J&R's fish tacos, and you'll be hooked... hook, line and sinker.  The tacos melt in your mouth, all ingredients work together and combine to made an exceptional fish taco.  If you love fish tacos, you've come to the right restaurant.

Photo:  Michael, Margi, Greg and I enjoy our amazing lunch today at J&R Tacos.  Thanks, Oscar, for snapping the photo.

Photo:  It's early afternoon on Saturday, June 02, 2018, and we're at J&R Tacos and looking forward to an enjoyable lunch.  The restaurant is surprising not busy on this warm, late spring afternoon.  The restaurant enjoys an informal patio that is open to the sidewalk on Main Street, and has the typical fence, as required by state law, in order to enjoy an "adult beverage" or two with your lunch, outside.

Photo:  A "Specials" board greets you as you're about ready to enter the restaurant.  The Thursday "Special" really appealed to me, but it didn't apply, as today was Saturday.

Photo:  One side of the menu.  In addition to tacos, J&R Tacos serves a wide variety of Mexican favorites, including many healthy and vegetarian choices.  I homed in on the "Taco Plate," as I always enjoy rice and beans with my lunch.

Photo:  As you walk in the front door, this is the dining room, and the order counter.  As with the format with most taquerias, you ponder the menu, place your order at the order window, pay for it, and when your order is ready, it will be delivered to your table.  The gentleman in the photo, Alex, couldn't resist "hamming" it up for my camera, as I snapped the photo.

Photo:  A peek into the kitchen catches Oscar, co-owner of the restaurant, as he was taking orders, making tortilla chips, which made him a truly busy guy.  If you're a fan of tortilla chips, you'll be at home at J&R Tacos, as their chips are freshly made, delicious, and are some of the best tortilla chips that I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy. When you're "dining in," you get unlimited bowls of chips, served with two varieties of fresh, in-house made salsa for your enjoyment.

Photo:   Oscar brings my "Taco Plate" to the table with a smile.  Oscar and co-owner Janna treat customers like family.

Photo:  Thanks to friendly Oscar for taking our photo, as today is a Rench-Robinson family affair.  Left to right, Marsha, Michael, Eric - yours truly- Bill, Jewel and Rod.  Great company and a great lunch!

Photo;  I ordered the "Taco Plate"  from the "Tacos and More" section of the menu.  You get two CD-sized tacos, - known as "street tacos" in Mexico - rice and beans.  Meat choices are many, including carne asada, chorizo, chicken, chile verde and al pastor.  If you order "everything" on your tacos, you'll get cilantro, chopped onion along with chile verde sauce made from tomatillos.  Two lime slices complete the amazing lunch.  For meat, I chose carne asada, as I'm a sucker for steak.

The tacos reminded me of "street tacos" that I've enjoyed during my many visits to Mexico, as they were served on two toasted corn tortillas, the asada was marinated and grilled to perfection, and the garnishes were fresh.  The beans and rice were delicious, and the beans tasted like refried beans like I've enjoyed in Mexico, although I doubt they have lard, as per the de facto standard in Mexico.  Such a delicious lunch at J&R Tacos!

Meanwhile, back on Saturday, May 12, 2012, I enjoyed another delicious meal at J & R Tacos, located on Main Street, in vibrant, downtown Merced, CA.


Photo:  Saturday night, May 12, 2012, was a warm, balmy night, and the kind of night that makes you glad that you live in Merced.  Main Street in Merced was hopping on this Saturday evening, and nearly every table, both inside the restaurant, and on the sidewalk in front of J & R Tacos was occupied.  That's not surprising, as J & R serves delicious tacos, and downtown Merced is a fun place to be on a beautiful Saturday evening.


Photo:  It's 10 O'clock on a Saturday night, and J & R Tacos is indeed a busy restaurant.  It's a fun place to spend an hang out, as the staff will treat you like family, and if you're a Merced local, or a Merced alumnus like I am, you're sure to run into somebody you know.  If you haven't run into a friend, everybody who visits J & R Tacos is a "friend that you haven't met until now..."  J & R Tacos is a fun, friendly, restaurant.


Photo:  After placing my order of two fish tacos, the friendly counter gal reached into the cooler to grab one of several Dos XX dark beers.  You can look into the spotless kitchen and watch the staff prepare your order from fresh ingredients.


Photo:  Our friendly server, Patty, poses with Greg's giant vegetarian burrito.  J & R Tacos' menu offers many vegetarian choices, and their motto is, "A Healthy Twist on Mexican Cuisine."


Photo:  I asked Patty to take our photo... too bad I didn't have my regular camera, as all photos were taken with my iPhone camera.  From left to right:  Greg Wilson, Bonnie Wilson, and your author, and Mexican cuisine fanatic, Eric Rench.  By the way, Bonnie is my sister...


Photo:  J & R Tacos offers a wide variety of wonderful Mexican dishes.  Tonight, I ordered two fish tacos, with everything, and optional guacamole.  Unlike fish tacos found in Ensenada or San Felipe, the fish was not fried, as it was grilled, which offers less calories, fat, and in my opinion as a lover of fish tacos, tastes better.  J & R Tacos certainly has a different "take" on Mexican cuisine...


Photos:  Bonnie looks quite happy, after enjoying a delicious dinner, and drinking all those beers!  Just kidding, as the beer bottles were the handiwork of the three of us, during the couple of fun-filled hours we spent at J & R Tacos.

J&R Tacos has an entirely new slant on Mexican cuisine:  Healthy.  If you've ever traveled in Mexico, and enjoyed true Mexican cuisine, you've probably noticed the lack of the heavy, cheesy, sour-cream labeled affairs that most north-of-the-border folks equate with Mexican cuisine.  My sister, Bonnie, has been a vegetarian for 20+ years, and her husband is dialed into her number, so when Bonnie chooses a restaurant... Vegetarian cuisine is the "main" thing.  J&R Tacos serves traditional Mexican food, but offers Mexican vegetarian cuisine, so they are a favorite of my sister.  She invited me to lunch... so why not?  Especially since she was paying...


Photo:  J & R Tacos is located on West Main Street, in Merced, and offers family-friendly dining inside, and comfortable, shaded patio dining on the sidewalk.  In recent years, the City of Merced has done a lot to upgrade Main Street, and it shows, as now Main Street rivals Fresno's Tower District in boutiques, dining and entertainment.


Photo:  My brother-in-law, Greg, places our order at the counter.  J & R Tacos is typical, in that you place your order at the counter, pay for it, and then your order is brought to your counter.  Notice the young crowd that this restaurant attracts on this early afternoon on Saturday, October 29, 2011.

Mexican cuisine, in the U.S., has been morphed into a heavy, meat-laden, sour cream garnished, gargantuan platter drowned in cheese, and smothered in watery salsa.  It's not that way in Mexico, as real Mexican food is light, healthy, and delicious.  J&R Tacos seems to focus in that direction... the healthy cuisine found south of the border.  They also feature many vegetarian dishes, to cater to the tastes of those who shun meat.  


Photo:  Our order is brought to our table by our smiling server, who graciously allowed me to take her photo, and who's name I didn't record.  My carne asada taco is in her right hand, and in her left hand, she's holding the vegetarian plate of beans, tortillas tomatoes and avocado slices that my sister Bonnie and her husband, Greg ordered.


Photo:  Our Saturday afternoon group, from left to right:  Greg Wilson, Bonnie Wilson, and Eric Rench, your photographer and author.  Bonnie is my little sister, and Greg is my brother-in-law.  Greg and Bonnie have been married 35 years...  which is quite a milestone.


Photo:  My order of one, cd-sized carne asada taco, garnished with diced onions, cilantro and salsa verde.  I only ordered one taco, as I'd previously enjoyed lunch at the nearby Cinema Caf... on a normal day, about three of these tacos would serve me well for lunch.  The perfectly cooked carne asada was placed on two toasted corn tortillas, in the style of Mexico, and garnished with fresh ingredients.  Great taco!

Fast rewind back to Tuesday, December 20, 2011, and I'm visiting my sister, again, and she suggested we enjoy lunch at J&R Tacos.  No problema!


Photo:  My son, Matthew, enjoys a delicious Pacifico beer, and helps himself to a basket of freshly made tortilla chips that never runs empty.  The kitchen staff can be seen, in the background of the photo, hard at work, preparing delicious food that makes J&R Tacos a favorite among the Merced locals.


Photo:  Matthew ordered two carne asada tacos, "con todo," and he managed to add some salsa verde and pickled slices of jalapeo peppers.  Matthew remarked that his carne asada tacos were delicious.


Photo:  My sister, Bonnie, isn't a fan of meat, so she and I split an order of nachos, garnished with black beans, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and avocado slices.  Naturally, we enjoyed salsa cruda and house salsa with the freshly made corn tortilla chips.  When your basket is empty, all you have to do is ask, and one of the friendly staff members will bring you another basket of fresh, warm, tortilla chips.  Mmmmmm good!


Photo:  My sister Bonnie and I toast to J&R Tacos and our upcoming trip to Mexico, over our vegetarian nacho plate, and our Mexican beers.

The menu at J&R Tacos claims the mission of the restaurant is:  "A healthy twist on Mexican cuisine."  Twists and turns aside, the menu offers many vegetarian - read "health" - selections, and the carne asada taco that I enjoyed was delicious.  My sister and her husband enjoyed a giant platter or beans, garnished with guacamole - why didn't I take photos??? - which was totally vegetarian.  My carne asada taco was delicious, and very close to what you would expect if you ordered a taco on the streets of Tijuana.  For authentic, yet healthy Mexican cuisine, J&R Tacos can't be beat...

It's always a pleasure to spend an evening at J & R Tacos, as the food is great, the people are friendly, and it's a fun place to relax and enjoy some of the best tacos that Merced has to offer.  I'll see you soon at J & R Tacos...

J & R Tacos
437 W. Main Street
Merced, CA 95340
209 384-2928

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