A lot has happened these past few months. Most notably, we moved to Southside. Moving has caused us to get a little distracted-all those pesky boxes, lots of urgent home improvement projects…. Excuses, excuses. But let me tell you, my foodie friends, this move will be great for our blog. It has introduced us to some hidden food havens in this part of town that we can’t wait to share with you. Tonite, I present you the first of these: the Green Springs/Valley Avenue corridor.

This area of Homewood is filled with, well, frankly awful looking strip malls. But in those strip malls are hidden gems. One of those is Taco Loco. I had been hearing for awhile that it is as good as Gordos, which hardly seems possible. But tonight, after working up an appetite thrift shopping, I decided to give it a try.

Nestled in a neon-filled strip mall next to a Karaoke bar and a dry cleaner, Taco Loco looks like your run of the mill mediocre Mexican restaurant. But when you enter, everything changes. Pretty, colorful murals cover the wall separating the restaurant and small bar from the kitchen. You can smell the fresh salsa. I was immediately greeted by a very friendly server and taken to my table, in front of a giant TV playing ’80s throwback Univision. I noticed that most of the patrons were speaking Spanish-a good sign.

My plan was just to get tacos, which seems like what they are known for. But I had to take a peek at the rest of the menu. This place is much more than just a taqueria. They have enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, and large entrees like chicken mole. When I go back to try them all, you will be the first to know. I stuck mostly with my plan, and got one chicken taco and one carnitas taco. The waitress asked if I would like some guacamole, and I didn’t want to be rude so…. I took one for the team and ordered that too.

First, the chips and salsa came out. I forgot to take a picture. The salsa was mild and tasted fresh with bright flavors.

Then the guacamole. Wow. It tasted like perfectly ripe avocados doused with lime juice.

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The tacos. The chicken taco made me literally stop thinking. You know what I mean-I was daydreaming, thinking about my to do list, and then-TACO. Corn tortillas, onions and cilantro, with a squeeze of lime and radish on top. Very flavorful and juicy. Although the chicken was my favorite, the carnitas was also outstanding-rich, fatty melt-in-your-mouth meat served the same way.

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By this point, I was feeling a wee bit guilty for enjoying all of this while Mr Foodie was back at home putting down some hardwood floors and planning to eat the soggy leftover lasagna in the fridge. I spotted the fish tacos on the menu-his favorite-and ordered them to go.

I couldn’t believe how beautiful they were, even in their takeout container. Served with a spicy smooth sauce described as “pico de gallo” on the menu, these were among the best fish tacos either of us had ever eaten. And for $7.75, also the cheapest. The fish wasn’t too fishy, but was light and flaky, served with fresh herbs and vegetables on corn tortillas:

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So, the moral of the story is, Taco Loco is more than just a taqueria, and once again, strip mall food is the name of the game in this town.

El Taco Loco on Urbanspoon