Taco Craft (A Review)

When a craving for tacos hits, no ordinary taco will do.  This was the predicament that I found myself recently.  It was a Tuesday afternoon, and the workday had been particularly long and eventful.  Well, I needed no other excuse than that to treat myself to tacos on Taco Tuesday.  So began my quest to find tacos on one fateful Tuesday.

Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t easy to find taco-centric restaurants in Miami that were also easy to get to after work AND observed Taco Tuesday.  Taco Craft fit all of the criteria, and had the added bonus of being owned by the same company that runs my favorite burger joint.  Okay, so that probably meant that they wouldn’t be authentic Mexican taqueria fare, but I am willing to make concessions if the flavor combinations are well-executed.  It was also easy to find.  It’s one block south of Sunset Place in South Miami.

Taco Craft is kind of a quirky little spot, with Day of the Dead inspired artwork peppering the walls and a layout that is sort of open but not.  Their Taco Tuesday special is any taco for $3, excepting their Taco of the Day which is $4.  Given the usual price of an individual taco is about $5, this is not a bad deal.  It’s the perfect opportunity to try a variety of their tacos and see which you like best, which I did in two separate trips.

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Even though we were there for the cheap tacos, we couldn’t say no to guacamole.  While we were concerned that it would take up precious real estate in our stomachs that could be used for tacos, it was most definitely the right call.  This is probably one of the better guacamoles that I have had in South Florida.  It has the right balance of cilantro, lime, and seasonings.  The chips are kind of thick and kind of hard, unlike the thinner and lightly crunchy tortilla chips that I prefer.  Still, the guacamole is worth getting.

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During my second visit, we talked ourselves out of getting guacamole again and opted to try the oxtail empanadas.  They arrived steaming hot to the table, so be extra careful if you order these.  My friend really enjoyed them once they were cool enough to eat, while I was immediately turned off the moment I realized the filling had olives and eggs in it.  No bueno.

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Since their Taco of the Day was only $1 more than the Taco Tuesday prices, I didn’t mind the “splurge” and started with one of those.  Tuesdays they have their Mojo Pork taco.  It’s topped with avocado cream, pork cracklings, and pickled onions.  It is also the best taco from Taco Craft out of all of the ones that I tasted.

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The skirt steak (left) and braised chicken (right) tacos were also good.  I was skeptical about the chicken at first because chicken tacos almost always wind up being a letdown, but the chicken was moist and flavorful.  The chicken appears to be the Taco Craft rendition of Chicken Tinga, only not called that because we apparently won’t know what that means.  The steak chunks in the steak taco were tender, and the toppings melded well together.

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The other tacos that I tried on my first trip were the brisket (left) and crispy pork (right) tacos.  I wound up sending the brisket taco back and asking for another mojo pork taco in its place.  The brisket was kind of dry and bland, and the taco had a sweet sauce that screamed too much “BBQ” and not enough “taco.”  The crispy pork taco was sort of like an interpretation of tacos al pastor, as it had a pineapple sauce.  The pork wasn’t completely crispy, but it had a good smokey flavor that made this taco my second favorite of the night.

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There were enough tacos left on the menu that I hadn’t tried to make it worth a return trip.  I decided to get out of my comfort zone and try a shrimp taco (left) and a mushroom taco (right).  I had law expectations for the shrimp taco, because the menu described the shrimp as “tempura fried” and I expected to be chewing through lots of soggy batter.  Instead, the shrimp have a very thin coating of batter, making them crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.  I had them hold the sauce, but the mango salsa on top of the shrimp was more than enough flavor to carry this taco into my top three.  The mushroom taco, on the other hand, was kind of one-note.  I appreciate that they put forth an effort to accommodate herbivores, but I don’t think that this was a particularly successful taco.  The mushrooms are kind of bland and soft, so there’s no plays on texture or flavor to help the taco be a little more exciting.

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My greatest regret, though, was ordering the Gringo taco (left).  As the name implies, this taco is reminiscent of the “typical American taco” with ground beef, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese on a flour tortilla.  It basically tasted like it was made with a taco kit from the grocery store.  Mind you, I don’t think that taco kit tacos are necessarily BAD, but I don’t want to go to a restaurant and pay for something that I can make at home.  I expected some sort of twist or different spin on the interpretation of an American taco, but that didn’t happen.  Fortunately, I had the foresight to order myself another Mojo Pork taco to go along with it, so my disappointment with the taco was soon forgotten.

I think that Taco Craft is worth checking out at least once, but make sure you come on a Tuesday when you can afford to make a mistake or two in making your taco choices.  Be prepared to wait, though.  Both times that I have paid them a visit, the service has been on the slow side.

For more information on Taco Craft, please visit their web site at http://tacocraft.com/

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