A trio of tacos from Tacos El Ranchero.
"Pass the salsa," Mackenzie asks as we sit across from each other on a blustery Tuesday afternoon in January. Together with 7 other colleagues we are happily noshing on taco combo plates from Café San Juan in Wyoming. We are in the midst of a typical Taco Tuesday, a tradition that started 15 weeks ago by two taco-obsessed C2 ladies looking for lunch.
Each week a group of C2 employees carpool to a local taco joint to taste, judge, and rank tacos. It began spontaneously as Mackenzie and I were chatting over lunch and discovered our shared affinity for hard-shelled, hand-held tacos. "Taco Tuesday" was thus born and we quickly learned that there weren't just a handful of taco joints surrounding C2 as we had originally thought, but over 30.
So the adventure began! A gang of C2 taco gluttons have since journeyed to 15 restaurants and our taste buds have been at times delighted, disgusted, perplexed and surprised by our findings. Our taste buds were also videotaped one Tuesday as we walked into Beltline Bar and were asked to star in their brand new commercial. In payment for smiling and laughing our way through lunch we were given a full gamut of drinks, appetizers, and entrees. We decided after that we would put-off voting for that location until a later date when we could judge without stars in our eyes.
The most unexpected part of Taco Tuesday? That it's not really about the tacos. Do we love those little, cheesy, Mexican bundles of fried love? Of course! But more importantly we enjoy taking 45 minutes every Tuesday to laugh and learn more about the people we spend 40+ hours a week with. I've learned that Kien and Johnny are daredevils when it comes to food experimentation, that Jon has the soul of a food critic, and random fun facts like "Blink" is the most terrifying Doctor Who episode ever made. It's these crazy discussions about Time Lords and beef tongue that make taco tasting all the more sweet.
Tacos so good even The Doctor would approve!
So, how have our local eateries ranked? The proof is in the taco - check out our results from our past 15 weeks:
1. Café San Juan (Best Hard Shell, Best Hot Sauce, Best Value, Best Flavor - with minimal use of ingredients)
2. Lindo Mexico Restaurant (Very Authentic, Most Fresh, Best Music, Best Ambiance)
3. Tacos El Ranchero (Very Authentic, Great Grilled Sides, Flavorful, Best Corn Flour Soft Shell, Smallest Restaurant Size!, Great Value)
4. On the Border Rivertown Parkway Location (Great Overall Taco, Great Taco Shell, Bad Packaging)
5. Qdoba Rivertown Parkway Location (Great Overall Taco, Best Packaging, Best Chicken)
6. Las Palmas (Very Authentic, Great Steak, Fast Service, Cheap, A Little Dirty)
7. El Burrito Loco Ivanrest Location (Best Cheese, Average Overall Taco)
8. Beltline Bar (All Around Average, Fun Atmosphere)
9. El Caporal 28th St. Location (Super Cheap!, Best Side Dishes, Slow Service)
10. Taco Bell Chicago Drive Location (Cheap, Really Fast, Not Authentic, Expected)
11. Jose's Restaurante (Alright Tacos, Use Velveeta for Cheese - Thumbs Down!, Clean Restaurant)
12. Donk's Joint Michigan St. Location (Super Cheap!, Really Clean, Great Website, Bland Food, Not Authentic)
13. The Dungeon (Crazy/Strange Ambiance, Bad Taco Experience)
14. Adobe Chicago Dr. Location (All Around Bad)
15. Las Cazuelas (Worst Salsa (Stewed Tomatoes), Slow Service, Expensive, Good Flour Tortillas)
...Or you might miss a taco...
UPDATE: New Taco ranking update here