El Gran Taco Loco (Taco Loco) is a fast food restaurant serving Mexican food, located in the back of historic Benson’s Grocery. The grocery started opened in the early part of the twentieth century and is still in business today.
Taco Loco is the result of the City of Bonita Springs not allowing food trucks on premises a number of years ago, forcing Taco Loco to move into a refurbished storage space behind Benson’s Grocery. This really ended up being a good thing. Opening about two years ago, Taco Loco started with the basics; tacos, tortas and quesadillas and has expanded their business model.
Persuading a dining companion to join me for lunch, we proceeded to order from their “taco” menu. While waiting to order, I remarked that they had perhaps the best self-serve condiment selection of any taqueria locally.
There were three different salsas, rojo (red, made with red pepper), verde (green, made with tomatillos) and avocado (made with tomatillos and avocado). Lime wedges also graced this section of the condiment counter.
There was more, with cucumbers, radishes, pico de gallo and what was described to me as onion salad. I researched the later but could find nothing describing this in Mexican cuisine. It is a salad (condiment) of sliced onions, oregano, pineapple and habanero chilis.
I think you will agree this array of toppings is hard to beat locally and will accommodate a variety of dishes and tastes.
Being a fast food restaurant there is limited seating on premises. Fortunately, Riverside Park is only about 1/2 block away; a perfect and shady spot to enjoy some take out food.
I ordered the pastor (pork) and chorizo (sausage) tacos. These were excellent, the grilled half jalapeno being a tasty and nice touch.
My dining companion had chorizo and lingua (tongue) tacos. I show you this as they look much better “dressed” or with condiments. Although disappointed in the lingua, my dining companion seemed to enjoy the chorizo. It’s remarkable, after a recent trip to Spain I can tell you they do not waste any part of the animal. Once you overcome cultural differences things not eaten routinely in North America, such as lingua, can be very tasty.
Keep in mind that as with tacos, tortas (sandwiches) and quesadillas (large flour tortillas) can be ordered with any meat or chicken offerings. I ordered a cabeza (bbq) quesadilla and it was excellent, easily having a third of a pound of meat on it for all of four dollars. It was even better with some of the condiments.
Since initially opening, Taco Loco has expanded their food offerings in addition to their hours. They now offer breakfast. Here was the menu when I was there.
What is this you may ask? Salchicha en Jitomate are sausages in tomato; Pechuga a la Mexicana con calabacitas is chicken breast with zucchini in Mexicana sauce (more on that later). Chili jalapeno con quesillo y tocino is jalapeno chili with cheese and bacon; aroz with huevo hervido is rice with poached eggs; huevo entero a la Mexicana are hard boiled eggs in Mexicana sauce. Caldo de res is of course, beef soup while menudo is that lovely soup with beef stomach and red chilis with hominy, limes, onion and oregano.
For those that do not know Mexicana sauce is made from tomatoes, onions and green peppers (serrano or jalapeno); the colors of the Mexican flag. I don’t know what readers think but the food here seems really compelling as there are many intriguing things on this menu. I will be back to try their breakfast.
They also serve tamales and licuados, the latter fruit drinks similar to smoothies. The selection here, for such a small kitchen, is very good.
Besides a good breakfast and fast/street Mexican food selection, should you have a yen for tacos at 3 AM, they are open twenty-four hours on Fridays and Saturdays.
What more could one ask for from a taqueria? I found the food here very good and reasonably priced. It is mostly for takeout, though there are other options for dining nearby. I think Taco Loco is still, after almost two years, a hidden gem and highly recommended.
I wanted to close this blog post by saying bon appetit in Spanish. Having asked someone how to say this, I guess it was no surprise the answer was, bon appetit!