Ever Hear The One About The Taco Shop?
Nevermind, it’s too cheesy
Associations make up our lives. We are constantly reminded of things via our interactions with the world around us, some logical and helpful, some painful due to bad experiences. These associations are what make up nearly everything we do, and for better or for worse, they’re the foundational building blocks of our thought. Is any thought truly and uniquely original, or is it a byproduct of an association triggered by some stimulus in our environment? We ponder these deep questions in search of answers, meaning and peace within our lives. It’s our lead topic for this review for one thing, which is to say that the new restaurant Guaca Guaca Tacos & Beer (8001 Wyoming Blvd. NE Ste. A1) has brought me back to the simpler times of my life growing up watching The Muppets, more specifically, of comedy idol and Ursidae family member Fozzie Bear and his catchphrase, “Wocka wocka.” So join me and my B-tier comedy as we taco ’bout the food here.
Guaca Guaca Tacos & Beer is a relatively new addition to the Northeast Heights but has already managed to garner quite a following there. In a city full of established Mexican restaurants, it can be a little guacward to start up a new place and successfully kick off, but from my visit, there’s clearly a love for craft here. The special trick at Guaca Guaca is that when it comes to tacos, you have all the control. For example, when I ordered four tacos ($10) there was first the choice of meat, featuring carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, chicken, shrimp and vegetarian. While all had certain strengths, including, to my surprise, the vegetarian, which was a medley of veggies (mushrooms, broccoli, onions and more) tossed in a sauce that allowed the flavors to expand, they come to you essentially bare. The meat, so to speak, of the tacos is prepared in the back and sent out, but then you are brought out a tower of toppings. Included is a fresh guacamole, a delightfully spicy salsa, a salsa verde, freshly chopped cilantro and pico de gallo.
From this tower, you decorate and elaborate on the tacos to your heart's extent, leaving the power in your hands. It’s hard to speak ill of the tacos that you helped create yourself, with your tower of ingredients jalapeno business. Of the four I tried, not a single one felt lesser than the other, and with the range of self-topping choices, you’re really granted a unique experience that allows you to customize your food exactly to your liking.
If directly making your own tacos isn’t to your liking, they offer a substantial range of other dishes to fill that need with some extra twists. For example, the mula ($5, or $6 with shrimp) is two corn tortillas filled with meat and cheese. It’s a quesadilla, but it’s also not. Whereas most quesadillas I’ve had in my life were thin and crispy, this felt more like a sandwich. It’s heftier with a solid filling to it, and while it is toasted, it’s not too crispy, managing to find that golden spot where the cheese is stretchy and gooey, filling every bite with just the right blend of ingredients to help you savor the moment.
You could try the momia ($8, or $9 with shrimp), a burrito wrapped in bacon. I could sit here and say this guacstar of a dish is literally exactly what you want and expect out of a bacon-wrapped burrito, but it wouldn’t do it justice. Finding the right pairing of interior meat to match your exterior meat is the key to letting this joy happen, finding a balance of savory and salty to make you smile. We’re sure you’ve got this under control.
You could go for something a little off the beaten path, like the guacadog ($6.50), a bacon-wrapped hot dog absolutely drenched in toppings. Chicago, eat your heart out. Not only is it already the winning formula of grilled hot dog meets bacon-wrapped goodness, but then they load up the bun with beans, grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole. Oh, and don’t forget a hearty covering of cheese. Once you figure out how to get your first bite of this monster of a meal, you’re going to find that it all meshes together wonderfully and feels like a really innovative take on a hot dog, a field known for its constantly evolving lists of toppings.
If you follow this meal plan, you should be more than full enough for a couple days, but just in case, there’s always dessert. For example, the flan ($3.99), which was exactly the right level of delicate and creamy without an overpowering sweetness. The custard is solid enough to hold together well with enough jiggle to make all the boys on the street jealous. You definitely need to try this to cap off your meal, so make sure to flan ahead.
For drinks, there are pretty straightforward offerings, featuring a modest selection of domestic and imported beers, with a couple of local favorites. Additionally, they’ve got agua frescas and bottled sodas, as well as fountain drinks, tea and lemonade. You’ll find no shortage of options to quench your thirst.
Guaca Guaca does two things really well: Making traditional food well without worrying about overdressing it into something it isn’t, while also finding ways to add a bit of fun and change to time-tested formulas. Whether you run in the old school or the new school of eating, you’ll find something that hits home here. Blending innovation and tradition is always a tricky process, but at the end of the day, if the food is good, how could it be nacho type? Wocka wocka wocka!
8001 Wyoming Blvd. NE Ste. A1
Hours: Mon - Sun: 10am-10pm
Vibe: Laidback street tacos that you build yourself
Alibi Recommends: Literally everything. Nothing we tried was even close to bad.