TacoLu – A taste of Baja Mexicana?

So with all the hype surrounding TacoLu, which is located near Penman and Beach Blvd, my wife and I decided to try this true “hole in the wall” restaurant last Friday. As we approached the restaurant, the lines were out the door and parking was horrendous. Note to those who are going to TacoLu’s:  The restaurant next door will tow you, so park accross the street and walk.

As we expected, we were told the wait would be roughly 45 minutes, so we took a seat and people watched. As many people walked into this restaurant, we were so excited about the food we were about to eat. Should we go traditional baja fresh fish or venture out and get the scallop taco? A couple things to point out about this place. First, this place has minimal air condition. It seems like the building is extremely old, as the air condition could not keep up with the amount people that they had seated. The restaurant does have two large oscilating fans, but they were not making the place cooler at all. Second, this restaurant loves to seat large parties over small ones. We saw several tables become available and stay available for roughly 30 minutes, in order to accomodate larger parties. It’s probably not the best way to do things, but maybe works in this smaller environmnet.

We finally were seated after an hour wait, and were greeted with hot chips and salsa. Now, if there is one thing you take out of this review, it’s that this place has the best salsa I have ever tasted. They should seriously bottle this stuff and sell it in gallons. It’s so fresh and delicious, with pieces of cilantro, toasted garlic, fresh tomatoes and other goodness, that it’s hard to replicate. We finally decided on what we wanted to order. My wife ordered the Bangin Dilla and I ordered a brisket, carnitas, and scallop tacos. We also ordered the guacamole to start.

The guacamole was brought to the table very quickly, and it was topped with toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas). I can’t say that the guacamole tasted bad, but it was just bland. It needed to have some salt, jalepeno, and some lime or lemon. It truly had no taste at all, and the toasted pumpkin seeds only added a decorative presentation to the dish.  The guacamole was  a little disappointing

The Bangin Dilla – When you normally order a quesadilla, a side of sour cream, lettuce, or even some pico usually comes with it.  This quesadilla came with nothing.  My wife and I tasted the quesadilla and found it also to be bland. We opened it apart, and found five pieces of popcorn shrimp.  This places claims that they make everything fresh, but I promise these shrimp were frozen and bought from Sysco.  Considering that this store is right around the corner from Mayport, supporting local shrimpers and buying local, would yield you way bigger and fresher shrimp.  We were disappointed with the Bangin Dilla.

The Tacos – The tacos I ordered came out as expected, and with several lime wedges.  The plate was well presented.  The scallop taco contained cabbage, cilantro, avocado, and a chipotle cream sauce. We were not impressed by the taste of this taco, as again it was bland.  The scallops were very rubbery and over cooked.  Also, with three small scallops in a large taco, there was nothing in this thing.  Now, this was a totally different story on the brisket.  I thought this taco was nearly perfect.  It was a little on the dry side, but overall very tasty and served perfectly.  The brisket taco was served with onions, cotija cheese, and cilantro.  This one was my favorite! You could almost taste a hint of the Dos Equis Beer.  Fantastic.  The third taco that I ordered was the Carnitas, and it was good, but yet again a little bland.  This taco was suppose to be served with jack cheese, onions and cilantro,  yet all I got on top was onions.  See the picture to the far right.  I guess one out of three tacos was good, the rest were just ok. 

This place by no means is bad.  It has some good qualities.  The beer is fresh, the drinks looked tasty, and the chips and salsa are to die for.  The other good quality is the service.  We had such amazing service at this place, yet be prepared to sweat your ass off, if the place is crowded.  We still are not sure about all the raves of this place, as its just par food.  I think the hype for the beach is that if its where everyone hangs out and has good drinks, its the greatest thing since slice bread.  Give a try, and let us know what you think.

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