Settling the great taco debate
By Annie Harmon
It’s around midnight on a Saturday night in Campustown. The sidewalks are teeming with people flooding from the bars to the various food outlets. But what sounds good? And even more important, where is the best place to go? Saying adios with formalities, we will call this dilemma, “Taco-geddon.” To come to a decisive conclusion, local favorites Fuzzy Taco, Flying Burrito, Hungry Boys, and Es Tas will be tested in the quest for taco greatness.
The experience: My first stop on the “Tour-de-Taco” is Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Ames’s newest taco-centered restaurant is all the rage, and the place is packed to the brim every night. It also helps that they are open until the wee hours of the morning, catering to the late-night Welch crowd. At Fuzzy’s, I ordered a shredded chicken taco, with a soft shell. The taco came complete with plenty of sour cream and lettuce, but seemed to be lacking in quantity of meat. The chicken also did not have a lot of seasoning. Grade: B-.
Their pitch: “We add garlic sauce, feta cheese and cilantro to our tacos, plus we serve breakfast burritos and tacos all day long,” says Nolan Sturlis, employee of Fuzzy’s Taco. “The store also has a great atmosphere and is big enough for groups.”
The experience: The second stop on my magical journey was to Fighting Burrito, a strictly Iowan establishment located on Welch Ave. Fighting Burrito prides itself on its delivery service, so I decided to order a taco for delivery. Fighting’s tacos come two-a-piece at $6.95. This price is higher than most of the other taco places in town, but with delivery, they take extra precautions to ensure a non-soggy taco. The two-piece set arrives with all wet ingredients on the side, so the corn shell doesn’t get soggy in transit. Brilliant!
Their pitch: “All our tacos come gluten free and anything can be made vegetarian or vegan,” says Jakey Callan, the night shift manager of Fighting Burrito. “We also use organic products and make everything in-house, from scratch”.
Grade: All in all, the tacos came loaded with all the fixings and the taste was flavorful and rich, earning them an A-.
The experience: Hungry Boys is a yellow food truck that appears at the corner of Chamberlin and Welch at 9 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturday. The crew comes in from Des Moines and prides themselves on their authentic Mexican street tacos. Every night the truck has different specials on sale from discounted tacos to loaded burritos. I ordered the three chicken tacos, and they came traditional style on a corn tortilla with onion and cilantro. Hungry Boys also has an excellent avocado ranch sauce to add to the tacos. On first bite, these tacos were my favorite. The flavor was strong and tasted authentic.
Their pitch: Boasting fresh ingredients, a range of sauces and “authentic Mexican food,” Hungry Boys is all about providing a fast, but genuine culinary experience.
Grade: I will note that within an hour the tacos caused probable food poisoning. On that note, I’ll have to give Hungry Boy’s a C-.
The experience: We sadly have arrived on the last leg of the Tour de-Taco, Es Tas. Es Tas is a bar restaurant located on Stanton Ave, and serves food and drinks all day, although the bar is open to only 21+ patrons late at night.. Es Tas is known for their all-you-can-eat taco bar during the day and their deep fried tacos. If caloric intake is not a question for you, these tacos are perfect. They were crunchy and the meat was fair, though the vegetables were a bit old and soggy.
Their pitch:“Other than the deep fried tacos, we have shrimp tacos know as the pink taco,” said Maggie Madison, a bartender at Es Tas. “The shrimp tacos are definitely a favorite here.”
Grade: Es Tas earned a grade B+ from me, for a mix of uniqueness and soggy vegetable toppings.
After much deliberation, Fighting Burrito came out on top — but not by much. Tacos are a great late-night food item, so use these reviews as a guide to your own tast tests. Happy taco eating Ames!