September 18, 2008

Tacos Locos

By Angele Sionna

2 S. Beaver St. Suite 170 (on the Phoenix Ave. side of the building)
Menu at : tacoslocos.com



The Food (taste/flavor/quality of food & drinks)
>>>>= a favorite, can count on it being good every time

The Atmosphere (environment, wait staff, comfortableness)
xxxx= comfortable

Price (what to generally expect to pay per person per entree)
$ = under $10

Value (what you get for your money)
**** = worth it - you won’t be disappointed with what you get for your money


Looking for a place to kick back on your lunch break or grab some good Mexican grub in between classes or errands? Tacos Locos is a good bet.

They have a simple but unique menu with decent prices and a different style than everyone else in town. Tacos Locos is on the a side entrance of the same building that houses Altitudes Bar and Grill, just south of the railroad tracks downtown.

Everything about this place screams laid back and it’s fabulous. Relaxing yet energetic music plays while you browse the menu at the counter and place your order. Items range from beef or fish tacos ($2.39 each) to rolled potato tacos ($2.19 for 3). There are several vegetarian options – mostly consisting of guacamole or potato based dishes. They also have a serve yourself soda fountain (drinks cost $1.79), beers on tap, and traditional Mexican beverages ($1.99), including Horchata (a cinnamon flavored rice milk), Tamarindo (made from tamarind fruit, a sweet yet distinctively sour fruit), and Jaicama (hibiscus flower tea).

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="368" caption="Rolled potato tacos"]Rolled potatoe tacos[/caption]

After ordering you seat yourself in the small but roomy feeling loft style restaurant, complete with high ceilings, exposed ducts, painted concrete floors and even a stone wall. There are naturally stained pine wood panels and soothing orange painted stucco walls. On display all around – local art, which adds to the hip feel inside. There is also a simple but fun patio with metal tables and rainbow colored umbrellas.

Moms take note – even though Tacos Locos caters to the student and lunch break crowd, they have a high chair for the little ones and menu items fit for kids like a large cheese quesadilla for $2.99, enough for two kids to share (although they have no kids menu per se).

This was my first visit to this casual restaurant, which only opened about four months ago. Their sign says café and market, but there is no market yet, though I’m told to look for it this spring. The market will feature their special homemade salsas, which include a salsa verde, traditional salsa and a spicy “chile de arbol” sauce.

Low prices and high quality best describes the food at Tacos Locos. Everything was fresh, not greasy. Food tastes like its made by someone who cares about each customer. On this visit, we tried several items.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="368" caption="California taco & fish taco"][/caption]

First up, my favorite of all that I tried: the fish taco ($2.39). Served with fried fish and cabbage, I recommend adding some of the homemade salsa verde. It is the perfect compliment to this taco with its sour and tart flavor. In fact, I’d add the salsa verde to anything and everything here because it is really good.

One of the weirder menu items (but I’m told very popular with the student crowd) are the California tacos ($2.69) and burritos ($5.39), consisting of carne asada, guacamole, lettuce and french fries. Yes, that’s right, I said french fries.

From the vegetarian menu, I tried the 3 rolled potato tacos ($2.19). These are essentially taquitos with mashed potato-like filling, topped with an almost non-existant amount of guacamole, lettuce and cheese. Good when dipped or smothered in the salsa verde or other salsa. Otherwise, they’re a little bland. But once that salsa is on there I really like them and for $2.19 for three I would definitely get them again.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="258" caption="Veggie quesadilla"][/caption]

I ordered the veggie quesadilla ($2.99) for my daughters to split. It was a giant burrito sized flour tortilla (by Tortilla Lady, the menu proclaims) filled with cheese, onions and red and green peppers. Not what I think of when I think veggie really (I was imagining corn and zucchini). My girls didn’t like the veggies on there, but once I took them off they gobbled it up. I tried it too and I thought it was decent but not impressive enough to order for myself. If quesadillas are what you want, I’d hop on over across the street to Beaver Street Brewery and order their chicken quesadillas instead, though Beaver Street’s are no where near the bargain price of $2.99. But then Tacos Locos doesn’t serve them with sour crème or guacamole.

You can add rice or beans for $1.19 each to your order, but we did not. We also didn’t try their chips and salsa because unlike most other Mexican restaurants, it is not included. The basket of chips and salsa will set you back and extra $4.39.

A good idea on your first visit to Tacos Locos is to opt for one of their combos, like the taco and salad ($5.89) or two tacos ($5.89).

Tacos Locos is particularly great for lunch breaks because they have free high speed internet so you can easily take a working lunch. They have happy hour and serve up several flavors of margaritas, pina coladas, on tap beers and bottled beers. There are no waitresses but the guy at the counter is about the friendliest you’ll come across. He’s happy to explain every item on the menu with a smile. Food is served up fast and hot in plastic baskets, which you’re asked to kindly put up yourself as you toss your trash or recycle your bottles.

Tacos Locos is going to become a part of my regular dining rotation. I left there full, satisfied and relaxed. I recommend it for tourists and locals alike.

2 comments:

B. Van Orden said...

I recently did an investigation of my own into this new Mexican gem downtown.

I ordered the chicken tacos, grilled ahi tacos, carnitas tacos, grilled ahi burrito, and carnitas burrito. Here are my observations:

Chicken tacos: They'll keep you alive, but probably won't inspire poetry. I found them neither terrible nor dazzling. Probably a step above Salsa Brava.

Carnitas tacos: These are exemplary of genius taco cheffery. If you eat only one taco for the rest of your life, be sure it's this carnitas taco. They cook the carnitas to the point at which much of the moisture has left the edges, concentrating the flavor and leaving crispy bits of porky goodness.

Carnitas burrito: Left something to be desired. All right, but could have used some guacamole and salsa, and perhaps some veg. The carnitas did not cook up like it did in the tacos due to the larger portion.

Grilled ahi tacos: Not amazing. My wife didn't like them, but I thought they were okay. About as exciting as a Wayans Brothers film. That's a lie. They are actually better than a Wayans Brothers film. A lot better.

Grilled ahi burrito: Like a fiesta in the mouth. I don't know how the burrito was able to transport me to a heavenly place while the tacos left me sitting on a wooden stool in Flagstaff.

Just my 2 pence, I hope it gives you some ideas for your next trip. Thanks for the review.

mike said...

I have to take a moment to point out the silly-ness of the previous post.

If you like a taco, but dislike it's burro brother, the only difference was the tortilla. In short, you are seemingly dis-crediting your own critic credentials in your post.

Just my 2 pence.

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