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My Inaugural Visit to Taco Cabana

I was fairly impressed by their salsa bar.
I was fairly impressed by their salsa bar.
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

They say there's a first time for everything, though I really didn't think that aphorism would ever apply to me eating at Taco Cabana. I've been living in Texas going on seven years and managed to avoid it; how, then, did I come to go by myself early on a recent weeknight? And completely sober, mind you.

A coupon. I've been watching way too much of TLC's "Extreme Couponing" and have come to the decision I am a FOOL who is just THROWING money away by not using coupons.

Never mind that I had no intention prior to seeing the coupon of ever buying anything at Taco Cabana, so the financial output was, in fact, entirely instigated by the presence of the discount, thereby rendering the apparent "value" of the coupon moot.

I did, however, get an excuse to eat fast-food tacos.

Brisket taco interior
Brisket taco interior
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

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My aversion to Taco Cabana had nothing to do with not liking fast food or cheap Tex-Mex. In the sea of wonderful, reasonably priced Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston, in addition to some very respectable local chains, it seemed ridiculous to patronize a huge franchise.

I got over my perhaps misguided prejudice in order to capitalize on TC's "Buy 1 Combo/Platter, Get 1 For $1" promotion. For around $8 I walked out with two shrimp tampico tacos, two brisket tacos, two bags of tortilla chips, one side of queso, one side of guacamole, one 20 ounce beverage, and many, many, many tiny containers of various sauces and salsas.

The colorful appearance of the tampico tacos, stuffed with grilled shrimp, cilantro, minced garlic, lettuce, and tomato rather surprisingly translated into a rather lackluster flavor. Fortunately, I had all those salsas on hand and some southwest ranch sauce, the addition of which significantly pepped up the tacos. Looks were also deceiving with the brisket tacos, whose filling resembled cheap cat food but tasted wonderful. Whatever spice blend or cooking technique (presumably low and slow) Taco Cabana is using on its brisket needs no alteration.

Shrimp Tampico Taco interior
Shrimp Tampico Taco interior
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

Will I run to Taco Cabana the next time I'm in the mood for cheap Tex-Mex? No, I'll probably venture to Chuy's or Pico's Mex-Mex.

Unless I can get my hands on some more coupons.


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