Like Taco Bus? You’ll love Taqueria Monterrey.

August 18, 2011

OK so you live in Tampa and you like food. Unless Post Apartments started renting out rocks to live under, I’m sure you’ve heard of the Taco Bus. More than once I’ve been at out late in the evening and overheard “Taco Bell can suck it, I’m going to the Bus”, which for both of you that are not already in the know is a non-mobile vehicle with no intention of trying to educate you that has been doling out tasty Mexican food 8,766 hours a year for years now. Anyway blah blah blah Taco Bus is great. We got that out of the way. Taqueria Monterrey is BETTER. On a bad day Monterrey is simply “good”, and it’s been the best Mexican food I’ve had in Florida on a good day. They have a salsa bar that made my heart skip a beat the first time I saw it (I love being a taco-chemist and seeing what mixtures of flavors I can come up with). They have different naturally flavored fruit-waters that make great compliments to the meal, and even Horchata, a rice/milk/cinnamon/vanilla drink that will not only make you fall in love, but do a great job should you try a salsa from the bar that’s just a bit too “picante”. They have chorizo, barbacoa, tripa, pulpo, and other meats you may not recognize quite yet but I implore you to try as soon as humanly possible- they are excellent. The even have veggie and vegan options should you prefer “not to eat anything that had a face” as my buddy Mark once said. Oh, and if I haven’t sold you yet, you could probably feed a family of four for around $20. Better yet, this is much more authentic and tasty Mexican food than you’ll find at some American-owned dump like Don Pablos/Qdoba/Baja/Moe’s/etc. On to the food, shall we? We started with the house Ensalada, which was ok but I wouldn’t order again (nothing really too special about it)- Lettuce, Onions, Tomatoes, Pineapple, Cheese, Pumpkin Seeds Next up was the Campechana, a flour tortilla with Pork Al Pastor, Beef, Avocado, Pineapple, and Cheese. We added some salsa verde and it disappeared quickly, yum. After that, a Torta. If you haven’t had a Torta (especially a good Torta), please stop reading and go get one now, you haven’t lived yet. Seriously. The bread alone is worth it, ignoring the fact it’s chock-full of amazing meats & veggies. The bread is very soft and airy, with only a slightly crunchy shell, and perfectly accents the spicy, salty, rich chorizo sausage meat. Oh man that was good. Approaching capacity, we had a couple tacos (which are reasonably small, but also reasonably priced around $2 each), one Steak and one Tripa. Enjoyed both, and even loaded them down with various sauces/salsas. The dark red is a really smoky chipotle, and the orange is a spicy peanut sauce, which has been a favorite of mine and most everyone I’ve brought to this awesome establishment. The sauces are made fresh in-house and are really what sets TM apart from the rest in my mind. The food is excellent, but when I can play chef with all the condiments like that, I’m happy as a clam. I remember thinking “So full. I completely forgot we ordered the Pulpo plate. There is no way we can eat that. OK, maybe a bite… OK maybe one more…” Seriously that was some tender pulpo, and the veggies were fresh and well seasoned too. The rice was also well seasoned and good texture, and DAMN those beans were something special. They had such a great depth of flavor, such a perfect balance of salt, season, richness, such a slightly grainy yet silky texture… I wonder if I can find that groupon to Taqueria Monterrey… Taqueria Monterrey Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

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