The first time I had “real” tacos, I was in Mazatlan, Mexico for Spring Break. At that time I was around 19 years old and I was not very adventurous with my dining habits. In fact, I was so worried about catching something terrible in this different country that I packed peanut butter and cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli (which I ate cold, because our hotel room lacked a microwave) and I was leery of eating at any of the local restaurants. I can remember eating at a McDonald’s though. Gross. Of all places! I had traveled with a large group of people. Adventurous people. People who weren’t worried about coming down with a wild case of diarrhea or barfing all night.
Andy was one of those people. I think Andy visited a street taco stand near our hotel shortly after we arrived. I remember seeing the tacos. They looked good. They smelled good. But, come on. Eating from a street cart in Mexico? You aren’t supposed to drink the water. Skip ice cubes in those cocktails! Don’t eat the fruit! So eating STREET tacos? No way. But Andy ate them. And he went back the next night. And I’m pretty sure every night after that. And he seemed fine. He seemed more than fine, actually. He was eating like a king and I was busy shoveling cold processed ravioli into my mouth. After enough days passed and he hadn’t gotten sick I decided it was time. I was going to eat Andy’s Tacos. (Nearly 15 years later and I still call them Andy’s Tacos.)
They were the best tacos I have ever had in my life. It was a shock to my system. I loved them! I ate as many as I could over the last few days we were on vacation.
Returning back to the states, it was impossible to find anything equivalent to Andy’s Tacos. At least here in the Midwest. But I think things have changed over the last decade, or so. Or maybe I became increasingly adventurous in my dining habits and I’ve discovered more places that offer similar food. In Kansas City it seems as if a street taco revolution has occurred. Especially in recent years. Which is awesome if you are craving Andy’s Tacos. But lets be honest, there is no true comparison for those. Tacos de Carne Asada at Sabor y Sol come close. Al Pastor Tacos at El Patron satisfy a craving. But travel will be required to taste the Andy’s Tacos again.
If you can’t understand my addiction to tacos, then you haven’t had a real taco. Dinner at On the Border does not count, people! Your best bet is to find a locally owned restaurant with a Spanish speaking staff that offers tacos without cheese on the menu Gasp! No cheese?!? No cheese. We are talking cilantro, onions, lime wedges, delicious seasonings and marinades and fresh, handmade tortillas. Those are real tacos. Given that today is Tuesday and many places offer their tacos for a buck, I’m hoping to snag a couple Almost-Andy-Tacos tonight.