Lifestyle

Date Night Dining: Taco Town

Authored By seanphippster

A basket of tacos is up there with the best things in life. (Photo: Staff)

This column is about the experience of food in Chattanooga. I will take people out for dinner and lunch dates at various restaurants in the Chattanooga region. It is not meant to be a review per se, but an account of a one-time experience at a restaurant. Your mileage may vary depending upon your expectations.

This week, Monica and I visited the delightful Taco Town in Hixson. I couldn’t find a single online presence for the restaurant, and it’s entirely possible that I dreamed the entire afternoon. Located in what locals call “that shopping center next to Riley’s,” the tiny Taco Town sits adjacent to Super Carniceria Loa No. 11 and a nail salon in the 4000 block of Hixson Pike. Drive by and you’ll miss it. 

The journey to Taco Town was a Tolkien struggle, and we almost didn’t make it.

We were shopping in the area and made a decision that I was hungry and needed to put food inside my mouth. Monica had eaten already, but shopping is stressful to me-and when I get stressed, I eat. 

My goal to purchase Kiehl’s products at the Northgate Mall Belk had left me disappointed (they don’t carry the line), and, later, I chose the longest possible checkout line at Bargain Hunt to purchase an $8 patio table. Books-A-Million smelled weird, too. 

Monica decided that a midday margarita and a couple of tacos would help my situation, and I agreed.

We tried visiting El Mesõn, but the bartender and an intoxicated lady were too busy flirting with each other to serve us, so we left. But I was partly to blame for that one. My mood was foul, so I didn’t have the patience to deal with them. Thus we landed at the gates of Taco Town.

Atmosphere/service
A banner hanging out in front of the restaurant said “now open,” so I expect that a majority of people are unaware of the unincorporated Taco Town’s existence. As we walked through the door, the first thing we noticed was the screaming. Not horror movie screams, but screams nonetheless. A radio personality from Dalton-based Que Buena 101.9 FM was broadcasting from the restaurant and literally screaming in Spanish into a microphone. I recognized the words “Taco Town” and that’s about it. Monica said, “This is already one of the most interesting dining experiences I’ve had,” and I agreed.

Taco Town is obviously a family operation. Multiple generations were working, including our young server and several of her siblings. The menu includes plenty of traditional Mexico City-style tacos (of course) for $1.99 each. But they also serve tortas (Mexican sandwiches), plates and other items. Taco Town seems like a smaller-scale version of one of my favorite taco places in town, Tacos el Cuñao on Lee Highway.

There are no margaritas. But that’s not surprising. Taco Town is not an Amigos, Las Margaritas, El Mesõn or other “Americanized” Mexican restaurant. It’s designed for the Latino population and people like Monica and myself who just want to eat a damn good taco without the frills.

And, surprisingly, there were no kinks in the service that needed to be worked out. The owners started small and are growing at a slow pace. Everyone in the restaurant was happy to be there and the food was good. What more could you want?

Food
This is a rare DND where only one of us was hungry. But that one person (me) was VERY hungry. Taco Town offers tacos with steak, chicken, chorizo, pork, etc. The complimentary chips tasted exactly like an off-brand, store-bought Tostitos crispy round. However, the salsa was fresh and homemade, as you would expect, with a touch of a spicy kick.

Taco Town offers several drink choices, but you should get either Mexican Coca-Cola or Pepsi in a frosty glass. I’d never had a Pepsi with actual sugar in it, and three hours later Monica said I was still talking about it incessantly.

How about this big, long taco photo next to this text, eh? 

As another live remote broadcast started, I worried that at any moment I would be thrust onto live Spanish-language radio. Thankfully, the broadcaster recognized that I couldn’t speak Spanish and didn’t approach us to be on the air. I can improvise my way through almost any awkward situation, but this would’ve been a disaster. I probably would’ve said something stupid like “viva la vida Taco Town,” which translates to the nonsensical “live life Taco Town.” I cringe just thinking about it.

The tacos at Taco Town are simple and delicious. In particular, the chorizo (Mexican sausage)-which is almost an instant heartburn accelerator for me-seemed a bit tamer than it has been at other places I’ve tried it. It had a ton of flavor and a touch of spice, intensified by an insanely tasty salsa verde. I also enjoyed the carnitas (pork) taco. Monica had a few tacos. She said, “I didn’t feel like I wanted to die like I do after most taco experiences in which I overindulge.” I can tell you she is still alive as of this article. I just checked.

It should be noted, too, that we each received a free taco. I think that was part of the broadcast, though. You hear about Taco Town on the radio and stop in for a free taco. We got lucky.

Would we go back?
Yeah, I liked this place. My foul mood was lifted after some sugar and tacos. We didn’t get a margarita, but I drank an enormous Mexican Pepsi in a frosty mug, which is almost the same thing. If you live in Hixson or find yourself perusing the booze bargains at Riley’s one afternoon, I recommend you stop in for a taco or five. Our entire meal was $16 before tip.

The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.