My Inaugural Visit to Taco Cabana

Categories: On the Menu

My aversion to Taco Cabana had nothing to do with not liking fast food or cheap Tex-Mex. In the sea of wonderful, reasonably priced Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston, in addition to some very respectable local chains, it seemed ridiculous to patronize a huge franchise.

I got over my perhaps misguided prejudice in order to capitalize on TC's "Buy 1 Combo/Platter, Get 1 For $1" promotion. For around $8 I walked out with two shrimp tampico tacos, two brisket tacos, two bags of tortilla chips, one side of queso, one side of guacamole, one 20 ounce beverage, and many, many, many tiny containers of various sauces and salsas.

The colorful appearance of the tampico tacos, stuffed with grilled shrimp, cilantro, minced garlic, lettuce, and tomato rather surprisingly translated into a rather lackluster flavor. Fortunately, I had all those salsas on hand and some southwest ranch sauce, the addition of which significantly pepped up the tacos. Looks were also deceiving with the brisket tacos, whose filling resembled cheap cat food but tasted wonderful. Whatever spice blend or cooking technique (presumably low and slow) Taco Cabana is using on its brisket needs no alteration.

TCShrimpTampico.jpg
Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Shrimp Tampico Taco interior

Will I run to Taco Cabana the next time I'm in the mood for cheap Tex-Mex? No, I'll probably venture to Chuy's or Pico's Mex-Mex.

Unless I can get my hands on some more coupons.


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10 comments
matt906
matt906

Taco Cabana is WAY better than Pico's and Chuy's.  It is obvious you are not latina.  Order some crispy tacos or bean and cheese tacos and get back with us.  Add some salsa and Pico's and Chuy's will be just a memory.

johnnybench
johnnybench topcommenter

Taco Cabana is good for chicken fajitas (I'm not a fan of the marinade they use for their beef fajitas), cheese enchiladas, quesadillas, breakfast tacos and the classic bean and cheese taco.  Their hand made tortillas make even mediocre fillings delicious.  As a San Antonio native, grabbing a couple of bean and cheese tacos at TC were the equivalent to "getting a slice" in the northeast. Many Friday night beers in high school were soaked up by those tacos.


Because every Taco Cabana prepares their food from fresh ingredients on site, there is a lot of variance from franchise to franchise in quality.  You can usually tell by the beans - if they are spiced well you're at a good location, if the beans are bland then you swung and missed.  In my experience the best Houston area location is on S. Post Oak and W. Bellfort.  Avoid the one on the Beltway and Clay... bland beans.    

texmex01
texmex01 topcommenter

When TC beat Two Pesos in the lawsuit, we all lost....

LilL
LilL

I love TC!  You don't visit TC for the experience you visit TC to stuff your face !  I think it's great!

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

2 words, fajita nachos. All else can be avoided.

salmon_grundy
salmon_grundy

latest installment of spoiled beeeeech who doesn't know chit from shinola complaining about fast food. it is what it is sister. you must be a riot in the sack

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

"Will I run to Taco Cabana the next time I'm in the mood for cheap Tex-Mex? No, I'll probably venture to Chuy's or Pico's Mex-Mex."

That's like saying, "Will I run to McDonald's the next time I'm looking a cheap burger? No, I'll probably venture to Rainbow Lodge or Jonathan's The Rub."


Anyway, I want to like Taco Cabana but for whatever reason the food seems bland despite all those different sauces intended to liven it up.



bridey.oleary
bridey.oleary

@Bruce_Are  That analogy fails on multiple levels. How can you  think the Mexican food at Chuy's is expensive?

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@bridey.oleary

Chuy's is about double the price of Taco Cabana and Pico's is even more expensive.  And they're not fast food so you have to leave a tip.  For the Tex-Mex genre, I'd say Chuy's and Pico's are in the medium to high price range.


It's obvious that Chuy's is better than TC.  But maybe you should be comparing TC to Taco Bell or a taqueria.

johnnybench
johnnybench topcommenter

@Bruce_Are @bridey.oleary  I never get out of Pico's under $100, even as a family of three.  But that's generally the fault of those delicious margaritas.  

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