Happy Taco Tuesday! Tacos are a beautiful thing. They're cheap, hand-held, can be filled with almost anything, and they're readily available in our city 24 hours a day.
But not all tacos are created equal. That's why we've narrowed it down to these five top spots to get your taco fix in the Tampa Bay area.
Taco Bus – This titan of Tampa-area taco shops has been known to have a line of customers well into the early-morning hours at its original, 24-hour location on Hillsborough Avenue, and for good reason. The bus-based kitchen serves delicious tacos, from the very flavorful pollo verde (shredded chicken in tomatillo sauce) to the conchinita pibil (Mayan style pork, roasted in banana leaves), topped with bright, fresh red onions, tomatoes, cilantro cabbage. Their salsa verde is the best around – and hot. (multiple locations, www.tacobus.com)
California Tacos To Go – It's all about the fish tacos at this San Diego-styled takeout spot. Generously big hunks of light, crispy-fried tempura grouper get topped with crunchy shredded cabbage and a slightly hot, slightly sour white sauce that contains peppers and yogurt. These tacos are so stuffed, they have to be served on a double tortilla. Everything is served to-go, but if you can't sit through an entire car ride before chowing down (we rarely can) there are a few outdoor tables. (1450 Skipper Road, Tampa)
Acapulco Mexican Grocery – It doesn't get more authentic than this without crossing a border. In the back of a tiny grocery store, you'll find this humble taqueria serving a daily crowd of Spanish-speaking customers lined up on barstools along the counter. The homemade corn tortillas come off the grill crispy on the edges yet melt-in-your-mouth soft with traditional fillings from shredded chicken to lengua (beef tongue) to the standout Al Pastor (pork cooked with a hint of pineapple and chilis). They're served no-frills, just onion, cilantro and a lime wedge, which is everything you need. At $1.75 to $2 a taco, it might be the best bargain in town. (1001 N. Macdill Ave., Tampa)
TacoSon – In addition to serving some of the best chips and salsa around, as well as their moist, full tamales, TacoSon, which now has locations in Tampa and St. Pete, stays true to its name with great tacos. The carne asada (steak) and puerco asado (grilled pork) are tender and flavorful, and their vegetarian taco, stuffed with black beans, rice, cheese, sour cream and colache – a traditional Mexican dish of stewed zucchini, onions, garlic and cilantro – is one the best meatless tacos around. (7521 N. 56th St., Tampa; 2510 22nd Ave. North, St. Petersburg)
Casita Taqueria - This tiny bungalow charms with its year-round Christmas lights, mismatched chairs and Dia de los Muertos decor. If the weather is nice, the patio is perfect for enjoying great tacos, featuring housemade tortillas, salsas and locally grown veggies. While many "authentic" taco shops don't put cheese on tacos, the queso fresco used here is a welcome touch, especially on the carnitas (roasted pork) and chorizo (spicy sausage) tacos. The real standout though is their camarones taco -- sauteed wild shrimp with shredded cabbage, pineapple salsa and a touch of cream. (2706 Fourth St N., St. Petersburg)