The Taco Bus thinks he’s so cool, doesn’t he? Well, he’s not. He is a SELL OUT! I mean come on, a little taste of national recognition, and it all goes to his head. Now, there are FOUR LOCATIONS, the most recent of which cannibalized its own sister store, Taqueria Monterrey. Now everybody can enjoy delicious tacos, prepared the same way in four different places across Tampa. And what does that say about me??! The place is popular!! That means it’s no longer cool to go there. THIS IS THE HIPSTER CODE.
So, of course I went to stop by the new store for lunch the other day. It only opened the other week, so I felt the need to check it out and see if it was up to par. Now, let me be clear, the original Taco Bus is pretty much my favorite restaurant. Ever. When I am asked, that is my answer. So there’s a lot of love. But I also really enjoyed Taqueria Monterrey! They had special items unique to their menu. Not that there were huge differences between it and the Taco Bus, but they were clearly separate restaurants. They even had their own salsa bar, which was really great. But now?
Nope. The salsa bar was replaced by some bald guy. And now there’s a fake bus stuck in the wall, looking like something out of an elementary school play. The place was packed, and they had a dude taking our orders while we waited in line, which was nice. But it was then revealed to me that their menu no longer featured their unique items, including the al pastor, and the chuza taco. Those meats were the reason I’d choose the go to Taqueria Monterrey over taco bus (when I did). And now they’re gone. Gone. Forever! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo-
-oooooooooooooooooo. The seating area is similar to before, but slightly different. The little dining area has a couple long benches, and a bunch of booths. The entry area now features very few tables, which is unfortunate, as that was the very location at which we were able to first establish the “giant square”, a combination of four smaller square tables suitable for seating up to twelve people comfortably. Ah memories.
I ordered what basically amounted to my usual, two tacos and a tostada, with assorted meats. My friend ordered some other meat styles, so you’re in for a visual tour-de-force of animal remains. Also, I picked up an horchata, which I really enjoy, but was disappointed to find that the new Taco Bus’ offering was a watered down version of what I’d come to know and love, from either the Taqueria or original Taco Bus. No telling on whether it was a result of being busy and having to stretch their reserves, or if this is how they’re serving it now, but it was noticeably less good.
My tacos were this time prepared with barbacoa and carne de res desebrada, and I added cheese to them. The meat served here is precisely as delicious as the meat at the original Taco Bus, so no complaints there. It is the same food, and it is great.
Barbacoa… beautiful braised beefs.
This is the carne de res desebrada, which I have never had before. It is a Mexican shredded beef, which is prepared with chiles. It’s very good, though not really spicy at all.
The tostada uses a crunchy tortilla, and has refried beans on it. It is delicious, but I always look like an asshole when I eat it because I attack it like a pizza and end up with all the ingredients in my beard instead of in my belly. I am truly a wonder to behold.
I got the cochinita pibil on the tostada, which is the Taco Bus’ famous ancient shredded pork, prepared through a series of voodoo rituals. Always good. But it’s not al pastor.
And my friend enjoyed the following meats:
So the new Taco Bus. It’s the same as the old Taco Bus. And they raped the corpse of Taqueria Monterrey, and by extension raped me. Rape for everyone! I will be going back to the new bus, of course, but I do prefer the old one. And damn them if their horchatas remain the same watery ghost of a proper horchata that I experienced on this visit. DAMN THEM STRAIGHT TO TACO HELL!