Last night the wife and I tried El Taco Loco for the first time. We took advantage of the Half off Thursdays promotion sponsored by WDAM-TV.
Located at 603 Broadway Drive in Hattiesburg, from the exterior it looks like Tijuana threw up on a long forgotten chain restaurant. But, don't worry about that you can't see the outside once you're inside. The interior decor is probably best described as Mexican tacky, but it was very clean and the the service was top notch.
El Taco Loco is one of the first Mexican restaurants in Hattiesburg to merge their Tex-Mex menu with a menu of traditional Mexican fare. Over the last few weeks I have heard a number of positives about El Taco Loco.
The menu is a bit difficult to read, not because of the language, but because the bright artwork on the pages make it difficult to read the print on the menu.
We ordered the Loco Dip with our tortilla chips and it was pretty good, a mix of cheese, beans, avocado chunks and pico di gio. I know it sounds a little weird, but just mix it all together and dig in.
I went straight to the back page and found the authentic Mexican tacos. The list was pretty extensive and they're served a la carte, at $2.25 each. I decided on one each of the Al Pastor, Barbacoa, Chrizo, and Tripita. I finished my order with sides of beans and Spanish rice.
The tacos were served Gringa (using wheat taco shells) instead of the corn shells you will find at some establishments. They were topped simply with fresh raw onions, chopped cilantro, and a very nice pico di gio.
The highlight was the barbacoa, the slow roasted beef with spices and chilies was so tender it falls apart. The Chrizo was good not great, very spicy, but not over powering. The Al pastor was good and was perfectly complimented with the pico di gio and a squeeze of fresh lime. This was my first experience with the tripita (tripe), and I was pleasantly surprised. The texture was quite good and the flavor was pleasing, also great with a squeeze of the fresh lime.
The rice and beans were good, they are more of the Tex-Mex standard that the beans and rice you may get at other places, but they were fine.
My wife ordered one of the Tex-Mex offerings - shrimp quesadilla with a side of Spanish rice and a Tex-Mex taco. She had positives to say about the quesadilla, which was packed with large, tender shrimp. Her taco was a bit on the bland side, and I think in the end she may have had some entree envy over the great tacos I had on my plate.
I think I may have found a new favorite Mexican restaurant in Hattiesburg, the authentic Mexican dishes are something that I will work my way through over time while my wife will have the option of ordering the more traditional Tex-Mex offerings.
Interestingly, not long after we arrived, local celebrity chef Robert St. John and family arrived. Which leads to only one question...."RSJ are you following me?"