I have a soft spot for Taco Cabana -- I just love the soft tacos there. So when I heard that Taco Cabana is offering its hickory-smoked brisket tacos for a limited time, I felt a flurry of mixed emotion and speculation.
Would they have the overpowering, somewhat offensive flavor of liquid smoke? Are they served awash in a sea of gloppy, sweet commercial barbecue sauce? Inquiring minds had to know, so I set out to get a brisket taco plate to go for lunch.
Filled with gloppy, faux-smoke dread, I was pretty sure I'd dropped almost $7 on a meal that I would complain bitterly about. Bitterly. So, I hedged my bets with a request for pico de gallo and salsa, to jazz it up -- or try to hide the nasty faux part (if it existed).
When I peeled back the foil on the first taco, it looked like rather unappetizing with no onion and no cilantro. One container of pico, plus the juice, gently sprinkled all over it, and I gave it a try. Don't be fooled by appearances -- the brisket is well-spiced and "briskety," without a hint of faux smoke or sauce, which was sweet relief for me, as I do not care for 99.9 percent of all bottled barbecue sauce.
The portion size was nice. Each taco contained about a half cup of shredded meat, with very little fat. The pico was just what these tacos needed for some spark, but the meat was juicy enough to not really need the pico liquid. While decent, these tacos should really be more street-wise and come with onion, cilantro and lime.
The charro beans were a mess, slopping out of the container. While I get the intent in pairing charros with brisket, which is reminiscent of a family backyard barbecue, it's a packaging fail. Further, the beans were lackluster and flavorless. Fortunately, I had enough salsa and pico to doctor the beans into a tastier side.
Overall, while satisfied with the meal, considering that it was approximately $7 without a drink, I will likely revert back to my usual soft chicken taco plate. The upside to the complete absence of perishables on the taco is that they don't get all soggy on you. Just don't forget to load up at the condiment bar. While I would love to tell you more about the nutritional content and calories of this dish, the website does not list this item and provides zero nutritional information.