Well, not really. If you are from Tampa, hopefully you have heard of Taco Bus and experienced their flavor packed cuisine. Last Monday, Nicholas and I had to opportunity to visit Taco Bus’s newest location in Brandon and meet the owner, Rene Valenzuela. Before we feasted on (about) 12 tacos, guacamole and chips and sipped down jumbo sized pineapple and watermelon waters, Rene gave us some background on how Taco Bus came to be.
Back when Rene lived in Mexico he owned a number of small successful taco restaurants. It was his dream to open a restaurant in a major city in Mexico, but in order to do so, he had to save or raise enough capital to cover the city’s high startup costs. When Rene was approached with the opportunity to start his business in the US, he took the leap and landed in Tampa Bay in hopes of becoming successful and using that money to open a restaurant in Mexico. Today, there are five local Taco Buses and this has become Rene’s dream.
Last Monday we dined at their Brandon location that opened in July. It’s actually one of the only vegetarian restaurants in the Brandon area, which is important because many of the tacos we tasted were 100% vegetarian and 100% delicious. Normally, when visiting any Taco Bus location the ordering is done at the bus. For this visit we were tasting a number of plates so the kitchen brought the dishes to us.
They kicked it off with a choice of watermelon water or pineapple water. I opted for the watermelon and Nicholas opted for the pineapple… Both were very delicious. If you didn’t know, I am not a huge fan of soda so this was a great alternative. The pineapple juice is also great for digestion and watermelon water is an appetite suppressant so I feel these drinks helped balance out our overall experience.
And drum roll please… before I knew it the tacos just kept coming and… I was okay with it! Tacos are one of my favorite dishes so when I started in on the first one, I knew it was going to be hard to control myself for the 11 others. To explain a little better how taco bus works… you first choose how you like your meal prepared; as the menu states, “Choose your favorite way,” which can be anything from a taco to burrito or tostada to much more. Then you pick your filling… that’s what we were trying out.
These are the options that are offered on their menu:
- Meats- Carne Asada, Carne de res Desebrada, Barbacoa, Pollo, Pollo Verde Desebrado, Cochinita Pibil, Lengua (Beef Tongue)
- Seafood- Pescado, Camarones
- Vegetarian- Rajas con Queso, The Vegetarian, Tofu, Vegan “Steak Strips” (Soy), Vegan Tempeh, Butternut Squash
I can’t tell you about all of them, you will have to try them for yourselves. But I will tell you about a couple of my favorites. I love chicken and eat it almost every day so the Pollo Verde Desebrado was one of my favorites. Its shredded chicken in a green tomatillo sauce. Then, I would have to give it up to the Butternut Squash because it was so inventive and flavorful that it was truly memorable. I would definitely have eaten more… if I had any room.
After the abundance of tacos, we were offered one of their signature desserts, the Tres Leches Cake. That’s right cake soaked in THREE types of milk and baked to perfection. If you were there you know that we didn’t have room for the cake, so you may ask, “How would you know?” Well, a night later in the week, Nicholas and I decided to try it out. WOW, was I surprised at the creamy texture and explosion of flavor as it melted in my mouth. (I know that sounds bad, but I had too!)
This was my first true experience at Taco Bus and I now know why Guy Fieri stopped here on his tour of Tampa Click here to watch the video). I would love to know about your experience with Taco Bus and your favorite taco.