Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Taco Bus in Tampa, FL

I've read a bit about the Taco Bus in Tampa. It's number four on Urbanspoon's list of Tampa's Best restaurants and I've heard people talk about going to visit the Taco Bus whenever in Tampa. From what I can gather, the Taco Bus started as a food truck and has grown into several permanent restaurants and trucks all around the Tampa area. Hearing so much about this Mexican food truck, I figured it was about time I give Taco Bus a try. I think I visited the original permanent Taco Bus location on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. It looked like they bought up several old buildings including what appeared to once be a restaurant as well as a motel. Not sure what they actually do with an old motel, but at the center of the complex was the Taco Bus itself. The white bus doesn't look like it's going anywhere any time soon, but still serves as the kitchen for the restaurant. 
I ordered tacos filled with something new to me. I chose cochinita pibil as my filling, which was described on the menu as shredded pork marinated in achiote and bitter orange, then wrapped in banana leaves and slow roasted in a smoker (based on a 5,000 year old Mayan recipe!). I went with their combination which came with the tacos, rice, and refried beans. The tacos were interesting. They came on corn tortillas with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime topping the meat. I wasn't really sure what to expect with the pork, especially since I wasn't even entirely sure what achiote was when ordering (hurray for Wikipedia). Unfortunately, the pork wasn't as flavorful as I was hoping for and was actually sort of bland tasting. It was still nice and tender and the tacos got their flavor from everything else in them.
The food at Taco Bus was alright for what it was. I was expecting a bit more from the cochinita pibil, but in the end it tasted like pretty plain pork. That aside, the tacos were still pretty tasty. What was not alright about Taco Bus was the smell. When we walked up to the bus to order, the air was clear. Once we went to sit down on the outdoor patio though, we got a whiff of a nasty bathroom smell. We figured it must be something outside, so we tried the indoor seating area (closer to the bathrooms) and the smell was unbearable. Once returning outside, we sat as far away from the source of the stench as possible, but it was still there. We debated eating in the car, but settled on dealing with the smell and staying where we were. While there was nothing wrong with the food, I don't think I'd return to this Taco Bus because of the smell. It wasn't exactly an environment that was conducive to eating. The thing is, I have seen no other complaints about the smell written anywhere, whether it be food blogs or review sites. I really do hope I happened to unfortunately arrive at Taco Bus on a day with some bad air...

Taco Bus on Urbanspoon

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