tacos

Tommy’s Taco Thursday: We Went to There—Tacolandia

Tacolandia Team Tacolandia the reality – the people were great, the weather was great, the music was a dominating force. I wonder if playing dance music extremely loud aids in digestion, because Team Tacolandia put down at least 15 tacos each, but surely no more than 20. It was amazing. VIPs entered an hour early and enjoyed zero lines (except for the alcohol line – which was just a trap to distract you from tacos). We spent an hour engulfing taco after taco. I’d say the highlights of the day for me was a carrot habanero sauce offered by Iron Cactus and a corn tortilla with cheese crisped on top (before layering on the meat and sauce) from Come Taco.

Alas, in a sea of tacos with cabbage slaw, grilled pineapple, grilled mango, and other gourmet accoutrements, I found two tacos worth noting. Let’s start with the best of the fancy tacos. The Taco Diner tent wins the prize for the best energy. The crew was bumping and grinding with the taco hunters. There were Dos Eques “rosaries” being tossed around and an inter-diner taco competition between a brisket taco that was pretty simple and chewy. This poor brisket taco got CRUSHED by the chicken and waffle taco. We’re talking warm corn tortilla with lightly breaded fried chicken breast pieces and a sweet maple cream sauce. So delicious! Highly recommend. I’m not sure if these mommasitas are on the Taco Diner menu, but if they are, get up on 'em.

Tacolandia VIPHere comes the champ. Most tents had little warmers and crock pots. Some tents had sterno canisters and chaffing dishes. For the most part, the workers would layout little black Styrofoam and carefully build tasty taco towers atop. Not at la tienda de La Banqueta! La Banqueta had a flattop grill. On the left side of the grill, piled high was about 10 pounds of chicken and on the right was about the same of beef. In the center were tortillas. As you approached the tent, the server would bare hand a couple of tortillas and use the tortilla to grab a handful of your choice of meat. These tacos were so hot, so fresh, and they had minced cilantro, onion, and some lime wedges for you. They had creamy, green salsa verde and a red salsa on ice. Boom! La Banqueta: Simple tacos done to perfection. And they had my heart and soul at Tacolandia. Also, their business card looks like an early Snoop Dogg album. Double bonus, turns out, La Banqueta is just a few minutes from my house. (And just like that, my property value doubled.)

Just as they let the general public into Tacolandia, I and my team were stuffed and ready to leave. Lines were forming, and it became clear that going VIP was a great idea. We were riding Ubers into the sunset before the little people had reached the front of their first line. I heard horror stories of people only getting to eat five or six tacos because of the lines. We ruled the day! We ruled Tacolandia!

Tommy Lee Brown teaches and performs at Dallas Comedy House. He is your man on the street, determined to eat. He is the belly of the city. No taco is too small or too commercial. He will eat it all, and tell you all about it. Direct taco related questions to taconightandday@gmail.com.

Tommy’s Taco Thursday: Tacolandia—A Vision

Tacolandia So I book an Uber to get me downtown to Tacolandia. It arrives. It’s a red-and-white checkered paper tray. You would recognize it from a concession stand or from ordering tacos at an East Dallas Taco shack. I hop in the back, and my driver is a smothered burrito. The drive is messy, but he gets me safely downtown. Downtown Dallas is transformed into a Taco Mecca. I step out of the paper taco tray and onto streets made of crispy taco shell. The trees and shrubs are gigantic cilantro bundles and heads of fresh lettuce. There’s a fountain spraying taco sauce 20 feet in the air.

I look around in wonderment, taking in all the sights. The clouds above are smooth, pillowy scoops of sour cream floating in a sea of blue corn chip crumbs. To my amazement and delight, they begin to drizzle warm queso down upon Tacolandia. Everyone has their heads tilted back and their tongues pointed to the sky.

The park benches are giant wedges of lime, and the buildings are giant taco salad shells towering into the sky. The gardens are peppered with chopped habanero, jalapeno, and cilantro. The air smells of crisping tortillas and cumin. There are tomato cannons shooting tomatoes in a 21-tomato salute to tacos.

The Flaming Lips are playing a stage made of ground beef, and all of their instruments are taco related. There’s a mean flauta solo popping as the avocados in the mosh pit begin making stage-side guacamole. Heads of garlic are spraying garlic salt into the crowd.

Then everything goes red.

When I wake up, I’m in jail. Apparently I went mad. I destroyed downtown. I consumed the crowds. I left a devastating crater of salsa stained carnage in my wake. I lie back on my cot and smile. I have no regrets.

#tacos #tacolandia #Dallas #Tommystacothursdays #VIP

Tommy Lee Brown teaches and performs at Dallas Comedy House. He is your man on the street, determined to eat. He is the belly of the city. No taco is too small or too commercial. He will eat it all, and tell you all about it. Direct taco related questions to taconightandday@gmail.com.

Tommy's Taco Thursday: TACOS!! TACOS!! TACOS!!

tacos I'm notoriously open-minded when it comes to tacos. I'll give pretty much anything masquerading as a taco the benefit of the doubt. But let's put some thought into it. It’s annoying when a restaurant throws together some random ingredients they already have on the menu and advertise “Tacos!!”

I had lunch at a Philly cheesesteak restaurant today. There was a sign proclaiming “Tacos!!” Contrary to popular belief I didn’t immediately rush the register screaming “I’ll have the tacos!!” In situations like this – namely, when you are at a non-chain restaurant – I encourage you to remain calm and remember a few things.

First scan the rest of the menu. Look for pictures of said tacos. Look for any other offerings that hint that this place knows what they are doing. Look for chips and salsa, enchiladas, taco salad, basically anything you can make with Taco ingredients. This place had nothing of the sort. They offered cheesesteaks, hamburgers, wings, fries, gyros, and tacos… This is not a good taco sign.

(Side note: if a place offers gyros, be sure they have a vertical rotisserie broiler. Otherwise you are eating a cheesesteak pita with tomatoes.)

Second, ask about the tacos. When asked about the tacos, the waitress informed me that they were, “Corn tortillas with cheesesteak meat.” I won’t say they are terrible, I haven’t tried them, but I did want to rip down the “Tacos!!” sign at that point.

Finally, when in doubt, order the food item the restaurant was named after. My cheesesteak was probably better than anything else this place offered.

Supporting the indie restaurants is a great thing; just remember they are under a lot of pressure to compete with the big boys. So sometimes they make questionable decisions, like offering “Tacos!!” and “Gyros!!” made from “cheesesteak meat.”

Don’t be Taco Blind. Taco with Pride and Taco in stride.

#notataco #tacos #2020tacovision #tacoawareness #tommystacothursdays

Tommy Lee Brown teaches and performs at Dallas Comedy House. He is your man on the street, determined to eat. He is the belly of the city. No taco is too small or too commercial. He will eat it all, and tell you all about it. Direct taco related questions to taconightandday@gmail.com.

(Image: JD Hancock/Creative Commons)

Tommy's Taco Thursday: Tales From the Bell

Taco BellI was standing by the side of the service road for Interstate 75 and Spur 366. My partner was in the car calling for back up. In the passenger floor board was a No. 6, a chicken taco salad, no rice, no shell, no red tortilla strips, a pintos and cheese, and extra hot sauce. At this point, we had had our food for 12 minutes. Duty had called and our food was on hold. On our route back from the Taco Bell, we happened upon a street fight. On either side of me were a drunken couple and a delirious Uber driver. The Uber driver had just been knocked out by his shirtless customer. The shirtless guy’s drunken girlfriend was screaming in my face that the Uber driver had hit her in her face. I’m sure my face was taking more abuse than her's had. Backup had not arrived. My partner was still in the car. If he had started eating, I would understand. If he touched my food, well, let’s just say I’d be in line for a new partner. At this point, we were a full 16 minutes from when we had received our order, and I was beginning to sweat.

The Uber driver was trying to get to his feet and kept face planting into the ground. His face was beginning to look like ground beef. And my mind kept pulling to that floor board. I commanded him to stay on the ground, but he stumbled out into traffic. He obviously planned to drive away. I pictured him, behind the wheel, trying to drive through the stars and birds that were obviously circling his head. What if he plowed into my partner’s car and damaged the Taco Bell? I had to act. I lunged into the passenger side of the car and wrenched the keys from the ignition. The stunned driver turned and followed me back onto the grass, away from the street. At this point, our food is 19 minutes old, and I’m pretty sure this was the longest I had ever possessed Taco bell without dining. I could feel my blood pressure rising.

The drunken couple stumbled off to sit under some trees nearby, but not after trying to bribe my partner and I into letting them go. Finally, my partner, Colten, arrived by my side. He seemed to have remained trustworthy. I did not see any evidence on his person that he had dipped into his fourth meal. I was filled with pride and admiration. We located the broken glasses of the Uber driver and finally our backup arrived. We are 26 minutes taco tardy at this point. I bite my tongue and refrain from taking out my take-out frustrations on the backup officers. (This is a good thing, because these guys were part of the personal camera pilot group here in Dallas. And my biting frustration would have instantly gone viral.)

By the time we had briefed and surrendered the case to our backup, Colten and I were over 30 minutes taco tardy. We scrapped our original plan to eat in the car, because we didn’t want our friends and family to be worried. By now our trip to the border had lasted 40 minutes longer than it should have. We arrived safely to our destination and were greeted by applause and fanfare. We were surrounded by people cheering and clapping for us. We looked at each other and shared a moment. A moment in which we appreciated the fact that they had no idea what had just taken place, and more importantly, we shared a moment where we decided we would eat first and then share with them our Tale from the Bell.

#fourthmeal #tacobell #uberintense #uberdrunk #uber #tommystacothursdays

Tommy Lee Brown teaches and performs at Dallas Comedy House. He is your man on the street, determined to eat. He is the belly of the city. No taco is too small or too commercial. He will eat it all, and tell you all about it. Direct taco related questions to taconightandday@gmail.com.

(Image: m01229/Creative Commons)

Tommy’s Taco Thursday: Pull Yourself Together Bueno

Taco BuenoToday I got an email from Taco Bueno with emoticons in the subject line. I was already planning on writing about Taco Bueno, but this sealed the deal. I love Taco Bueno. I’m a ride or die Bueno head. I grew up on the Mexi-Dips and Chips. I liked to mix the guacamole, beans, and queso together with a couple of hot sauces and make my own master dip. I love the tostada. My go-to platter is the Taco Platter with double beans and double sour cream instead of rice and guacamole. The quesadilla is great to smother in the hot sauce. I could go on and on.

But I have to unsubscribe from the emails. It’s gotten out of hand. I’m getting a handful a week; sometimes two in one day. They are starting to feel more like desperation and less like a reward. Taco Bueno is acting like an ex that can’t stop messaging. “Hey what’d you have for breakfast? Mine is cheap right now.” “Hey what are you doing this weekend? All weekend. It doesn’t matter what time.” “Hey – um, I’m still doing 49-cent party tacos on Thursdays if you aren’t busy.” “🎉Here’s a mystery emoticon for the subject of this email; I know you like… carrots?? 🎉”

Not only are these emails becoming a little overbearing, but I was getting budget belly. I was ignoring my desire to eat full-price menu items in favor of a $1.50 - $3 worth of some special deal. I can’t remember the last time I had a tostada and a quesadilla from Taco Bueno. I’ve been in a haze of party this and party that. I feel like I was drugged by my inbox.

(Although I gotta say the 5 party items for 5 dollars deal is legitimately the best fast food deal around.)

Arghhhhhhh! I can’t quit you Taco Bueno. But I can quit your emails. Tell you what…how about I stop by on my way home. I‘ll bring you a little money. You get all fresh and spicy for me. Mmmmmm.

#tommystacothursdays #masbueno #tacos #tacobueno #thinkingofyou

Tommy Lee Brown teaches and performs at Dallas Comedy House. He is your man on the street, determined to eat. He is the belly of the city. No taco is too small or too commercial. He will eat it all, and tell you all about it. Direct taco related questions to taconightandday@gmail.com.

(Image: Taco Bueno)

Tommy's Taco Thursday: The Hardest Taco Shells Never Get Eaten

sad tacoThis is the hardest Tommy’s Taco Thursday post I’ve ever had to write. Don’t fret – this is not the last post. I assure you that this is not the last Tommy’s Taco Thursday post. This is, however, the most difficult post. In fact, it’s hard enough that I find comfort in lingering too long on how difficult this is. Part of me wants to not make a big deal out of it. The other part of me knows that not making a big deal out of it would be too easy. And there’s no place for easy in the most difficult Tommy’s Taco Thursday post ever. And this is that post. The most difficult Tommy’s Taco Thursday post. And hardest. I’m not eating carbs.

(Tommy pauses, hands folded, and stares at that sentence for minutes. Fives of minutes.)

That is the hardest sentence to write, in a post that has already proven to you, without a doubt, to be the most difficult Tommy’s Taco Thursday post ever.

I’m not eating carbs. I’ve been eating chorizo and egg with cheese tacos from Tin Star. You can get two, good sized breakfast tacos with cheese and chips and salsa for $4.99 plus tax. This is a good deal (unless you throw away the tortillas and refuse the chips). Their salsa is of the fuego variety – meaning they char all of the tomatillos, tomatoes, and jalapenos before they make the salsa. It has great flavor… The tortillas… look… amazing. They sit there discarded, next to where the chips should be, just staring at me with their great big brown crispy tasty spots. They exude this wonderful aroma of fresh made paradise. They want me, and I want them - bad. Dammit, I bet they are delicious. Argh.

Yesterday, I had taco salad from Taco Bueno with no crispy, crunchy, flaky, fried, flour shell. No beans, no tomatoes, add extra cheese. I opened the Styrofoam container and nearly cried. A taco salad doesn’t belong in one of those. It belongs in a shell with beans to glue the lettuce to the shell’s floor. Ahhhhhhhhh!

I just have to keep telling myself that taco guts are better than no taco at all. And that I’m not eating carbs (one of the best parts of my second love in this world), so I can look damn good for my first love at our wedding. I got this. It’s worth it.

#ipromisethesearetearsofjoy #unshelled #keto #taco #noshellhell #tinstar

Tommy Lee Brown teaches and performs at Dallas Comedy House. He is your man on the street, determined to eat. He is the belly of the city. No taco is too small or too commercial. He will eat it all, and tell you all about it. Direct taco related questions to taconightandday@gmail.com.