Sunday night was the first ever #TACOORNOTACO Pop-Up Taqueria event at Taste Restaurant. It was a one night collaboration between Taste, downtownfood, Brix and Morsel, and Vine Arts. I was super excited when I learned that Chefs Darren MacLean (@chefdmac) and Cody Willis (@gluttonlife) were taking over the kitchen at Taste for the evening to turn out some tasty Mexican fare.
I can’t think of a better way to spend the Sunday evening of a long weekend than to spend it with friends over tacos, bourbon, beer, & hip hop. What’s even more awesome is that everything on the menu for this event is 5 bucks! Yes, you read this right… $5 Tacos, $5 Chips & Pico, $5 Churros, and most importantly, $5 Booze! I was actually quite impressed with the booze selection they had for this event. There was sure to be something for almost everyone as there was beer, wine, margaritas, bourbon, and of course, tequila and mezcal. My friend Anna decided to try the Red Pig Ale while I decided to pair the tacos with a glass of white.
When my friend Anna of Anna’s Appetite and I arrived a couple of minutes after 6pm, the place was already hopping. Luckily, we managed to snag one of the last available two tops. It didn’t take long for the place to be lined up out the door. If it wasn’t for this being the long weekend with many of the local foodies being out of town, I’m sure the line up would have been down the street and around the block.
We started off with an order of the Chips & Pico ($5). The housemade chips were perfectly crispy and perfectly seasoned. They were not greasy at all. The accompanying Pico de Gallo was delish! It was perfectly balanced with just the right amount of acidity. This Pico brought back memories of the tasty versions that I’ve had while visiting California in the past. I can easily say this was one of the best versions of Pico that I’ve had here in Calgary.
We then each had an order of the 3 Tacos ($15). An order came with one of each taco – Oyster Po Boy, Tongue & Cheek, and Pig. No substitutions were allowed. This was fine by us as we wanted to try one of each anyways.
My favourite of the three was the Oyster Po Boy. This one was the West coast influenced taco. It consisted of house smoked fried oysters with a spicy buttermilk slaw, and was topped with a peanut and pumpkin seed macha. I loved the contrasting textures and flavours. In particular, the house smoked fried oysters were a stand out. Being an oyster lover, this was a taste of heaven for me.
A close second for me was the Tongue & Cheek, which consisted of braised beef cheeks topped with crispy fried duck tongues along with some wild spring salsa verde. I loved the bold flavours of the tender beef cheeks contrasted by the crispy duck tongues.
Last, but no least was the Pig taco. It consisted of confit pork shoulder along with a spicy garlic and red chili salsa and was topped with crispy pieces of chicharone (pork rinds). The crispy chicharone provided great textural contrast to the meaty pork while the spicy red chili salsa awoke our tastebuds. On paper, I would have expected this to be my favourite taco as I LOVE chicharone as well as spice. This taco was tasty but it was hard to compete with the amazing flavours of the braised beef cheeks and house smoked oysters. Overall though, all these tacos were really well-executed and easily some of the best tacos that I’ve had in Calgary to date. My friend Anna and I loved them so much that we ended up ordering another 3 tacos to share between us. It was at this point that local foodie and Yelper, Terry (aka Calgary Dreamer) popped in to join us for some beer and tacos.
The three of us finished off the evening with an order of the Churros ($5), which were crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.
Simply put, this was some of the best Mexican-inspired fare that I’ve had in Calgary to date. I still can’t stop thinking about those tacos. With this Pop-up Taqueria being such a huge success, I sure hope that they plan to have more of these #TACOORNOTACO nights in the future.
#TACOORNOTACO Pop-up Taqueria
(@ Taste Restaurant)
1210 1st St SW