“How many more?"
These were the only words our server uttered upon returning to the table at Tacos Flacos, a joint nestled in a Palm Harbor strip mall, hilariously, next to an LA Fitness. No mindless chatter, no awkward "Are we filling up yet?"
His face was frozen in a straight line, a judgment-free emoji completely void of empty food service platitudes. This was a space of solemn understanding.
Just: "How many more?"
It was Taco Tuesday, our weekly date-night sojourn to find meaning in tortillas. We realized fairly early in our relationship that we both had a serious taco problem, because any time "What do you want to eat?" came up, the potential solution involved spicy meats and a masa shell.
Lest we start to resemble burritos ourselves, we figured the best practice was to seek out this meaty treat just once a week. On Taco Tuesday.
The concept of Taco Tuesday, of course, is nothing new, nor is it challenging to understand. People like things alliterative. (Throwback Thursday! Man Crush Monday!) Taco Tuesday is a pop culture staple at this point. Take, for example, when President Business uses free tacos to distract the citizenry in The Lego Movie: "Let's take extra care to follow the instructions or you'll be put to sleep, and don't forget Taco Tuesday's coming next week." Such a tactic might work for us!
Taco restaurants have been capitalizing on this for some time, offering door-buster taco deals on Tuesdays. Some have started taking advantage of society's taco lust on other days of the week. Lime Fresh Mexican Grill does a "WTF" deal, with $2 tacos and two-for-one drinks on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Deals are cool and all, but our approach to Taco Tuesday is not about finding the most tacos for the best price. Well, not always.
Conversely, it's not about finding the absolute best, most gourmet taco in town. How many $4.95 Red Mesa Cantina duck confit tacos with goat cheese can one person manage?
Taco Tuesday is an adventure quest. It's a journey through Middle Week to destroy the One Ring of Boredom. It's a chance to do something slightly exciting with someone you love in the middle of the week, a time that can seem laden with routine drudgery. Tacos happen to be what we like, but you can tailor this experience to your own palate. French Fry Fridays! Sundae Sundays!
On the Tuesday nights we can't get out, we often make tacos at home. If Tuesday's a non-option because, say, some people we thought were our true friends are having their engagement party at an Italian restaurant, we'll do Taco Monday. Or Saturday. Or whatever day. For Halloween, we dressed like tacos and nachos.
We will not be denied tacos.
We've dined at dozens of Tampa Bay taco joints, from the omnipresent Taco Bus to places we'd rather never speak of again, savoring everything from authentic Mexican fare with cilantro and onions to Americanized crispy shells with big dollops of sour cream (we love both, for the record). A few things keep us coming back: free chips and salsa, prices that stay in the single digits and house-made hot sauce — although there is absolutely nothing wrong with a stolid bottle of Cholula.
The other thing is a little less technical. We like places that feel a smidge adventurous, maybe not the prettiest or most popular place in town. These are the corners of life where the taco magic happens.
By the way, when your server asks, "How many more?" the appropriate answer is always, "Two, please." And some more chips. And another round of margaritas.