I love street tacos. I just love them as a format. Growing up I was never pizza guy or pasta guy (both great blank canvases for flavor explorations). They just were never my sweet spot. And honestly, even though burgers was always a standing “Deserted Island Food” for me, nowadays, I am far more passionate about street tacos. And kinda strange because up to only a few years ago, I only thought of a taco as tomato sauce soaked ground beef stuffed into a bright yellow crunchy corn chip.
I don’t know who makes the rules on these things. To me a street taco is not about the where the taco is cooked or sold. It’s about the attitude and philosophy behind what is being put on tortilla. It’s about throwing your gloves down. And taking a risk to pack the biggest party of flavors you can on that supple tortilla (no hard shells please – we’re staying north of the border for this one).
The standing champion for street tacos, well I don’t have one. Truth is I never ate a street taco I was floored by back home in Jacksonville. Yes, I tried TacoLu and wasn’t blown away. I’ve enjoyed the street tacos from Jalapeno’s food truck, but not enough to start handing out awards. Honestly, the best street tacos I had in Jacksonville were the local farm goat slow braised in carrot and apple juice and finished with fresh cilantro, raw onion and a carrot sauce reduction. Prepared by yours truly But as I don’t have the time or equipment for any braising at this time, these tacos are no longer available. And therefore I had to find a new champ. And one I did, in Asheville, NC
CHAMPION: All Taco @ White Duck Taco in Asheville, NC
As with any great eatery in Asheville, the menu is written neon chalk on black and changes regularly. There is a 27-tattoo minimum to work there. With a strong preference for a nice neck tattoo.
What can I say, the food is spot on. Their menu is exciting & eclectic fusion type deal. But not in a pretentious way. They do Korean and Greek tacos. Along with all sorts of South American flavors. But you can tell it’s not about them trying to show off. And seem cool or trendy. The cooks behind White Duck Taco are just looking to create a phenomenal flavor experience, and that they do. White Duck Taco, I salute you. Lets braise some goat together some time.
CONTENDER: Taco Lucha in Manhattan, KS
On our trip headed out west to pickup our trailer in Colorado, we had to drive through Kansas. ALL the way through Kansas.
When lunch-time rolled around, I looked for the biggest town on the map (a difficult feat) and found Manhattan, KS. A small college town, still not sure what college exists there (sorry Manhattanites). At the top of the ratings on Trip Advisor – Taco Lucha.
I love Nacho Libre. I meant, everything about that movie is my favorite movie, every day. I didn’t take a picture of the tacos because they were merely decent (and possibly caused some serious stomach issues). The servers also seemed like they may have hated us. I told my wife I just think it is because it’s a college town and they have never seen families or children.
However, the inside is off the chain chart. Luchador masks line the bar. Posters everywhere. Combined with a ton of Catholic relics scattered around. If they put a sign on the door that this was this place was the inspiration for Nacho Libre, I would believe it. And so would everyone else. If I was in a 100 mile radius of this place with any of my friends who have any taste whatsoever in cinema (translation – they also are die-hard Nacho fans) I would go back here (possibly packing a bagged lunch this time).