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El Taconazo?

CFishman Sep 18, 2007 03:28 PM

I have been by Taconazo three times recently and it was closed on each occasion. Once was a Monday night, the next a Thursday night, and the last was today before 3 pm. Anyone know if they have cut back their hours? It would be a tragedy to lose this place. It is a culinary oasis that my wife and I depend on for great tacos and ceviche.

  1. g
    gfr1111 Apr 18, 2008 08:51 AM

    To everybody on this board: Thank you so much! I went to El Taconazo for the first time yesterday, April 17, and I was blown away. I haven't had tacos that good since I lived in Mexico for a summer. I had one each of the beef, chicken, and pork. Everything was incredibly fresh and intensely flavored. I can't wait to try the barbacoa and al pastor fillings, as well as the ceviche, which was praised above. What a find!

    The red sauce and the green sauce are both dark. I was a bit put off by this, since I thought that they were not fresh and had been affected by the heat. Wrong. They were just loaded with spices (like chili powder) that had turned them a little dark. The green chili sauce is among the best I have ever had.

    Turning to the name of the place, it is "El Taconazo." "Creative Loafing"'s suggestion that the name of the place is "Rico's ______" is in error. At the back of the restaurant, there is a sign which says something like "Ricos Tacos, Burritos y Enchiladas" (or something to that effect). In Spanish, "rico" means "rich," but in the context of food it means "tasty" or "extremely flavorful." Generally, in Spanish, modifiers are placed after the noun and must agree in number with the noun that they are modifiying. For instance, "tacos ricos," means "tasty tacos." However, in slang Spanish, the modifier is sometimes placed in front of the noun for emphasis. This placement in front of the noun is the English equivalent of saying, "extremely." Thus, the sign above the bus at the back of the restaurant is declaring, "Extremely Tasty Tacos, Burritos, and Enchiladas," NOT that the restaurant is owned by someone name "Rico" !

    A tip for those searching for this place: it is east of 275 on Hillsborough, but not far. You will not see the bus because a building (with a couple of small, unobtrusive signs, denoting "El Taconazo") is in front of of where the bus is. Ditto, the line of customers is in back, so you probably won't see a line, either. I've missed the place in the past for this reason.

    Man, what a wonderful place!

    2 Replies
    1. re: gfr1111
      andy huse Apr 21, 2008 10:08 AM

      not sure if i mentioned breakfast, but i love their breakfast burritos. be sure to get the japalenos cooked in with the eggs. I forgo any meat, as it is plenty big and rich as is. I just wished they served them after 10.

      1. re: andy huse
        FrankC Apr 23, 2008 04:42 PM

        Thanks Andy!

        As if going there for lunch 3 times a week wasn't enough, now I WILL have to try breakfast too. Good Job!

    2. maladrin Mar 30, 2008 04:49 PM

      That's really odd. I've never had anything bad there. Ever.

      Granted, I don't eat there all the time, but I've eaten there enough to feel like I have the vibe. Too be honest though, I always get burritos and not tacos.

      2 Replies
      1. re: maladrin
        FrankC Mar 30, 2008 06:06 PM

        I have to speak up for Monterey Mexican Grille in Plant City. It's at 410 Alexander St. I believe they are some relation to the family who owns the Taco Bus on Hillsborough. I have only had their tacos, but they have been great both times!

        1. re: FrankC
          TampaAurora Apr 1, 2008 05:40 PM

          Spoke to the new manager...they own Monterey as well. They are also looking to add fish tacos!!!

      2. r
        rikkikm Mar 27, 2008 04:12 PM

        Creative Loafing indicates that it's now called Rico's Tacos and not El Taconazo.

        16 Replies
        1. re: rikkikm
          Agent Orange Mar 27, 2008 10:16 PM

          It'll always be the Taco Bus to me.

          Bouncing off a comment made above by andy huse, I was at Taconazo two weeks ago and they were rather packed for 3pm on a weekday. I noticed all of the patrons were gringos. I seem to remember in the past there being more of a mixed crowd. The food was still good, but I don't think all of their meats are superb. Are there any other Mexican joints in Tampa of similar or better caliber? Particularly in the North Tampa/USF area. I'm really wishing El Toro Negro weren't so far away.

          1. re: Agent Orange
            RibDog Mar 28, 2008 06:54 AM

            I don't know of any in Tampa but I do like La Cabana del Tio on Drew in Clearwater. Almost to the point that I like it more than El Toro Negro. And I go to ETN quite a bit.


            1. re: RibDog
              Agent Orange Mar 28, 2008 07:32 AM

              I love the fresh tortillas at Cabana. I have tried pastor, carne y nopales, carnitas and I think lengua from La Cabana del Tio. I wasn't blown away by any of them, and find the pastor and carnitas to be superior at El Toro Negro. I have only had tacos at LCdT, perhaps you could recommend other meats/menu items that they do well.

              I do, however, dig their spicy salsa. Wish I knew how to make it; seems mostly chile-based, it is very thin, but it is not roja. More of a clear/brownish/greenish color. Wish my Spanish were better so that I could ask them.

              1. re: Agent Orange
                Bergerman Mar 28, 2008 04:08 PM

                I second La Cabana del Tio. It's worth the drive to Clearwater for those of you in Tampa. I think it's better than the Taco Bus, as good as it is (or was, haven't' been in a while). Another Tampa choice is Mi Mexico on Armenia a little north of Tampa Bay Boulevard. Bigger than the other two with a more extensive menu. They sell fresh tortillas at the grocery next door (same owners, I think). Fresh tortillas are the key:

                1. re: Bergerman
                  RibDog Mar 28, 2008 05:01 PM

                  There is a Mi Mexico on US 19 in the Countryside area now. It is in a little strip center just a little north and across 19 from Countryside Ford. I keep forgetting to ask if they are related to the same in Tampa so I can't answer that question. But I have enjoyed their food.


                2. re: Agent Orange
                  RibDog Mar 28, 2008 07:21 PM

                  I don't know what to tell you, AO. I tend to stick with the tacos al pastor and just enjoy the flavor better on the ones at Cabana. Some of the dishes at ETN seem a little bland at times to me. Guess it is just a matter of tastes. Not that mine is any better, just different.


                  1. re: RibDog
                    Agent Orange Mar 29, 2008 09:00 AM

                    Thanks RibDog. Perhaps I caught the pastor at Tio's on the wrong day. Or maybe I just don't know a good pastor when I taste one. I'll give it another try next time I'm in Clearwater.

                    Since we're on the subject of taquerias in the greater Tampa area, if anyone is jonesing for tacos and sopes in Bradenton, head to the Red Barn Flea Market on 41. Inside is a hole-in-the-walll called Maria's. It is by far the best Mexican I have tried in Manatee County and stands up well against the taquerias discussed above. It's great for lunch, but only lunch because the flea market closes at 4 every day. Bummer.

              2. re: Agent Orange
                rebecca.kukla Mar 30, 2008 03:01 PM

                I love Mi Mexico (LOVE it) but another great place that hasn't gotten much Chowhound play at all is the lunch counter in the back of the Acapulco Grocery at MacDill and Cypress - on the NE corner. Yum.

                I too am on a quest for good mexican near USF - I posted about this recently. Would love to hear any suggestions. There certainly are a lot of authentic-looking places along Fletcher and some on Busch but I don't know anything about them. I tried one randomly last week and was disappointed.

                1. re: rebecca.kukla
                  CFishman Mar 31, 2008 03:17 PM


                  I agree with your comments about Acapulco Grocery. The al pastor, carnitas, and lengua tacos are all very good and the tripa is excellent. The mole there is not bad either considering how hard it is to find here in Tampa. Following your suggestion from a different thread, my wife and I checked out West Tampa Sandwich Shop this weekend. We both really liked it. We were there for lunch but I can't wait to go back for breakfast and dinner. You know how to pick the restaurants. I hope we will get to eat together sometime.

                  1. re: CFishman
                    Mild Bill Mar 31, 2008 07:18 PM

                    And following both ya'll's recommendations I'm going to have an absolutely ridiculous lunch tomorrow at Acapulco Grocery...

                    The tripa sealed the deal... I hope they have Menudo too...

                    I always notice the place when I go to Nature's Harvest Market but I never popped in...

                    If anything looks photogenic I'll have my camera with me...

                    1. re: CFishman
                      rebecca.kukla Apr 1, 2008 06:39 AM

                      Very glad you enjoyed WTSS! Next time you are there or at Acapulco look for me ... I am the really short one with short dark hair who is eating everything. :-)

                      Now everyone is talking about Tripe and Menudo and making me hungry... so I guess I have no choice but to go to Acapulco for lunch today...

                      1. re: rebecca.kukla
                        Mild Bill Apr 1, 2008 03:14 PM

                        I looked for you, but I got there for a late lunch, around 3:00...

                        If I saw a female fitting your description I was gonna cough 'Rebecceh-eh-eh' and see what response I got... ;-)

                        I liked it a whole lot... Definitely a secret little nook...

                        I got 6 tacos (2 Fajita (carne asada), 2 al Pastor, 2 Tripa (crispy), and the chicken mole...

                        I spent $20.00 and was happy walking out...

                        The tortillas were brought to life nicely on the griddle, then filled with the meat, and garnished only with onions and cilantro...

                        Hot, soft, and flavorful--- especially with this nice pinkish orange bowl of emulsified picante sauce on the counter that I chose to spoon onto every bite...

                        The chicken mole was very nice folks...
                        Sho' tasted like somebody's gran'mama made it to me!

                        Dark burgundy, smooth, lil' sweet...
                        The chicken was just two chicken wings and a spare bone but I didn't care...
                        I wasn't that hungry at that point, but I got every last bit onto a tortilla...

                        I need to learn how to make that...

                        Anyway, nice... Thanks...

                        1. re: Mild Bill
                          rebecca.kukla Apr 1, 2008 04:32 PM

                          Hey there Mild Bill! I had the Mole for lunch too - yum! I only missed you by an hour and a half. I thought the mole sauce itself was awesome but I wish they hadn't nuked the chicken.

                          The picante sauce on the counters is awesome indeed, as is the very fresh verde sauce with the chopped avocados in it, which is a touch I hadn't seen before.

                          You can definitely out-eat me though - I am humbled.

                          1. re: rebecca.kukla
                            Mild Bill Apr 1, 2008 10:00 PM

                            It was a dream, and we made it happen!

                            I agree on the Mole sauce/Chicken thing...

                            RE: my appateeto...
                            I have a little arthritis in my neck that I infrequently take a certain mild prescription pain med for...

                            If I take it a half hour or an hour before lunch, it seems I don't really feel the discomfort of being full, and I am able to eat 'a bit' more than I otherwise could, still feeling fine...

                            Don't get an offensive image in your head, I didn't leave the place with guacamole in my hair or nuthin'...
                            --- but I did very comfortably walk over to Nature's Harvest Market next store and buy a couple peanut butter cookies for dessert...
                            ---and a diet Coke...

                            Acapulco guy said they have Menudo on Saturdays and Sundays, and usually have other very good soups during the week...

                            I'll try to pop in on a weekend...


                2. re: rikkikm
                  rikkikm Apr 10, 2008 08:04 AM

                  Went yesterday for the first time. El Taconazo is painted on the side of the building in more than one place and the hours painted on the exterior wall has it open every day of the week. I had tacos with carne asada. I prefer the sopes/gorditas at La Cabana, but I guess I need to try Taconazo's mole. They don't offer sopes- :(

                  1. re: rikkikm
                    The Urban Eater Apr 12, 2008 10:41 AM

                    Nope, it's still El Taconazo. Who would Rico be? The new owner's name is Renee.

                  2. r
                    rikkikm Sep 19, 2007 02:33 AM

                    I haven't tried going back there for the same reason- once it was closed and another time the parking lot was blocked off and there's NOwhere to park. I haven't yet called to ask their hours though.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: rikkikm
                      rhnault Sep 19, 2007 05:51 AM

                      I would go more often if not for the parking lot and traffic getting in and out of there.

                      1. re: rhnault
                        Mild Bill Sep 19, 2007 07:08 AM

                        I pass by on Mondays and Wednesdays when I take my wife to the Tech Institute up the road for classes she's taking... I was bummed when it was closed on Monday and was wondering about them too, so I am happy to find this thread... But I've been there 3 or 4 times and have eaten-- and I was dramatically disappointed... And I'm really not that picky... OK, so their tacos aren't like Taco Bell's with the cheese and lettuce... I got that--- they're 'authentic'... But to me they were still blah... The carne asada tacos were gristly and tasted like the meat was boiled or something----- three days previous---in water... Carne picada tacos were stupid blah ground beef... Tacos al pastor were bland as well... And all were skimpy... There was nothing delicious about any of it... I got a cheese quesadilla and a it was just barely ok...
                        On all of these things, the flavor volume is turned up several notches at 'La Cabana Del Tio' on Drew Street... Still authentic and simple like at Taconazo...
                        I'll try a few more times, but so far it's been like 'Mexican Night at the Tampa General Hospital cafeteria'...
                        Maybe someone can tell me 'what to order and how to order it' to get something good... Again, I'm not that picky--- but each time, I walked out of there thinking; "what the?"

                        1. re: Mild Bill
                          CFishman Sep 19, 2007 01:39 PM


                          I don't really know what to say. I moved here from LA via Chicago and I consider my taste for tacos reasonably well-developed. In my experience, the Tacos at Taconazo have always been very good. It is possible to have a piece of gristle at Taconazo but I think that is true for any taqueria. Maybe they served you carnitas instead of al pastor. Carnitas really is boiled if I am not mistaken. I have had both there and really liked them. The ceviche is also another staple for me. It is astoundingly fresh and cheap. I have to say that I also like the atmosphere. Sitting outside gives me the sensation that I have escaped Tampa, a feeling I sometimes want. I like La Cabana del Tio and their homemade tortillas but their tacos are not so good that I am compelled to drive 25 miles rather than 1 mile. If La Cabana del Tio had a good mole, that would be a different story.

                          1. re: CFishman
                            andy huse Sep 20, 2007 02:49 PM

                            I never get the shredded meats, as the flavor isn't nearly as good as the regular pork or steak. the shredded stuff is stewed, and it tastes that way.

                            sometimes i wish i could pay extra for meat that is trimmed of fat and gristle better, but when in Tijuana... I mean Tampa...

                            1. re: CFishman
                              The Urban Eater Apr 12, 2008 10:39 AM

                              Carnitas is a braised pork, not boiled. Sometimes, it is then quick fried in its own fat, making it a confit. Traditionally, it is only slow braised.

                              1. re: The Urban Eater
                                CFishman Apr 12, 2008 01:23 PM

                                I don't know, this pig looks like he is getting boiled to me (why is the picture so small? I have to figure that out). There are some real pictures of carnitas being cooked at www.lthforum.com. I will look for them when I am not busy watching the Masters.

                                1. re: The Urban Eater
                                  andy huse Apr 25, 2008 11:37 AM

                                  I posted that comment before the new owner, when carnitas were a weekend special. I was only referring to the meats available all week long.

                        2. a
                          aynrandgirl Sep 18, 2007 08:26 PM

                          It's closed every Monday and Tuesday. I've never been there outside lunch hours so I'm not sure what happened Thursday. As an ex-Californian, it's one of the few places where I can get what I consider a good taco.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: aynrandgirl
                            netmover Sep 19, 2007 02:06 AM

                            orale guey

                            1. re: netmover
                              aynrandgirl Sep 19, 2007 08:29 AM

                              What does that mean?

                              1. re: aynrandgirl
                                andy huse Sep 20, 2007 02:47 PM

                                I can think of something unsavory. Or it means that he'd rather eat at Chipotle with the gringos.

                                actually, it means, "right on!" i think. Not sure why such comments are necessary, but as long as we have to live with it, we may as well know what the heck it means.

                                1. re: andy huse
                                  rhnault Sep 21, 2007 09:17 AM

                                  right on dude!

                            2. re: aynrandgirl
                              curleegurl Apr 24, 2008 03:51 PM

                              Amen!!!! Great tamales!

                            3. netmover Sep 18, 2007 07:18 PM

                              and where might that be in the FLA?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: netmover
                                aynrandgirl Sep 18, 2007 08:26 PM

                                913 E Hillsborough Ave, Tampa

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