Taconooga

Taconooga

Taconooga logo

If you’re anything like me, sometime in the past month or two you saw a Taconooga sign at this here corner spot across from the Walnut Street Bridge on Frazier Avenue that has been home to loads of various eateries over the years and found your curiosity piqued. Sadly, however, there’s not been much to be found out here in Internetland about just what on earth this here Taconooga thing is. Ain’t it funny though how things like this happen (at least) in threes? El Macho Taco is moving into the old Fork & Pie location on Market Street. Local favorite Taqueria Jalisco is opening a second location in Miller Plaza. To my surprise, I drove by today and found that Taconooga just celebrated their opening day yesterday.

Taconooga

Any way you fold it (LIKE A TACO!), if you’re speaking tacos, you’re speaking my language, brother. The more the merrier. Plus, it’s just downright more convenient to have a spot on the north shore for some tacos, since I have more of a tendency to find my keister there than the heart of downtown or the south side.

You can find the full menu(s) on their web site. As you can tell, there are some things on the more adventurous/interesting side, which, honestly, is more what I lean towards, but this time I went rather plain Jane to get a feel for what their basics are like. I look forward to branching out and experiencing more of the menu, but this time I got a good old Mexican Coke, three tacos (left to right: carne asada, al pastor, and picadillo), and some Mexican street corn.

Carne Asada, Al Pastor, and Picadillo tacosThe tacos were all good, but the al pastor had the best flavor, in my opinion. As you can see, they are all “Mexican style” with a big helping of cilantro and onion on corn tortillas and some limes for squeezing. The fresh corn tortillas are definitely worth noting. Also, I’m big on salsas and sauces, so I threw some of their house salsa on there too. That made it, if you ask me. Solid salsa. I was told there is a tomatillo salsa and a habanero salsa as well, which I look forward to trying, but I kept with the “plain Jane” concept this go-’round.

Mexican Street Corn

The Mexican Street Corn came in a cup, which was a big surprise to me. It was sort of layered, like a sundae. Good flavor, so I can’t complain too much, but the menu says it’s available on or off the cob. I prefer mine on the cob. No one asked. I kind of figured on the cob would be the default, but maybe that was my mistake. Again, the flavor was still good, and, actually, having it off the cob made it easy to put on the tacos, which was an inspired tasty little random idear.

The one thing I found in this trip that I am a little conflicted on is this: for all of the surprising diversity in the menu (there is really a lot more to it than I expected), it’s a little disappointing to not see a decent amount of vegetarian/vegan-friendly options. I know that not everyone caters to that, but, this day and age (and all the more so with this type of cuisine because there are a lot of relatively easy options), it seems a reasonable expectation. Although, admittedly, “traditional” Mexican food doesn’t seem to lean much in favor of veg-heads anyway.

Overall, I like what they’ve done with the place. It’s a nice little unassuming joint. The atmosphere makes me think of White Duck Taco Shop in Asheville, NC, which is easily one of my favorite taco shops I’ve ever been to. I could see hanging out here, which is an important aspect of dining that is maybe less commonly taken into consideration; that social aspect.

There’s a lot more exploration to be had, workin’ my way ’round that menu, so I’ll definitely be back. I suggest you give it a shot as well.

Taconooga on Urbanspoon

Taco Roc

Taco Roc

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Taco Roc is my go-to place for Mexican fare (there’s apparently a theme with this whole “go-to places” concept, but, hey, why shouldn’t there be?). There are a few key reasons why. First off, it’s not much to look at. One could potentially define it as a “hole in the wall” or a “dive.” To me, that’s not a negative thing. In fact, it can denote a certain sense of charm. But I could also see the flip side of it/how some people might find it unappealing, so to each his (or her) own and all that jazz..

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But the thing of Taco Roc that snags me is this: it is a very nice, very welcome break from the “traditional” idea of Americanized Mexican fare that pollutes the Chattafoodscape (should I trademark that?), without trying too hard to be deliberately different, if you know what I mean. It’s not some modern nouveau chic tappas-ish take on Mexican fare or some similar such ill-conceived fad. Nope. This is what I expect food would be like from my abuela’s kitchen (provided I had an abuela). It’s good and fresh, but simple; no frills. You get large portions, at a ridiculously low cost (honestly, I have, regrettably, paid more for fast food on many occasions). Chips and salsa aren’t complimentary. I’ve known some people to complain of this, but.. seriously, you guys? Quit your whining. They are super cheap (like a buck-something) and are very good. They fry their own chips and make their own salsa. There is also a complimentary salsa bar with loads of goodies to choose from, which I always seem to get overly excited about because I grab much more stuff than I need off of it. They make some great guacamole, which, again, is a pretty large portion and pretty cheap, for what it is. You can get some horchata or various rotating fruity beverages (mango, pineapple, or guava, for instance, to name a few) to accompany your meal, or a cold beer. If they would just start slingin’ margaritas in this joint, they’d see my butt planted there even more frequently.
Furthermore, I’m a taco salad junkie and this is one of my favorite places to go for them. I also really love some plain ol’ tacos, and I really like their selection here. Let’s see.. ground beef, chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, barbacoa, al pastor, chorizo, cactus, etc. Their meats are all delicious. The pork is one of the stand-outs, in my opinion. It’s like a slow-roasted pulled pork. Very moist and delicious. On the tacos note, also, this is one of the only places around town at which I will order fish tacos. I love fish tacos, but, sadly, I tend to be very weary of ordering them from most places. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of getting some bad ones, you should understand this quite well.

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I can’t say enough how much I love this place. They have a huge menu with tons of options I’ve not even mentioned. It’s good, authentic stuff. It’s not your run-of-the-mill Americanized Mexican, which I love and am pleased to see becoming a little more common in our city (wink and a nod to Ovalle’s and Taqueria Jalisco, for instance). And it’s CHEAP. Cheap, cheap, cheap. Good, cheap eats. Man, I don’t know about you, but that’s the ticket for me. Give this place a try, if you haven’t already.

Taco Roc on Urbanspoon