The Local Taco
4501 Murphy Rd
After a lovely couple of days in Chattanooga, we headed back to Memphis. We planned to stop in Nashville for a quick run through Trader Joe's and for some dinner. I texted my friend Chip, who is a frequent visitor to Nashville, and asked him what the name of the taco place was that he told me about. He had presented it to me as a taco place along the lines of Las Tortugas that used mostly local ingredients. (Or at least that's how I remembered him telling me.) Anyways, that is a lot to live up to. My expectations were extremely high going in.
Also, I have to say that I've been completely ruined by all of the great places in Memphis along Macon Road.
The Local Taco is in Sylvan Park, which isn't too far from Trader Joe's. We arrived just as it was getting dark. It's a very small restaurant with a large covered patio. It was chilly so we opted to sit inside--after we stood at the hostess stand and perused the specials board and paper menu. (That's right, the hostess stand.) I looked around the restaurant and there were several families in attendance, which I took to be a good sign.
The kids' menu featured two choices--a cheese quesadilla or a southern fried chicken taco--with a side of rice, refried beans, or black beans. Satchel opted for the chicken taco with rice and Jiro said he only wanted chips and cheese dip. (We'd actually eaten a late lunch so I wasn't too worried about him doing this.) Warren, who thought the kids meal should come with rice AND beans, opted for the special ancho chile blackened ribeye taco and a Korean BBq taco. I went for the special buffalo chicken taco and a spicy shrimp taco.
Now, it was clear from the menu board, the menu, the interior bar, and the large, enclosed patio that one should definitely order a margarita or some sangria to go along with their meal. Had we not been driving all the way to Memphis (at night, on very little sleep) maybe we would have gone this route and I'd have nothing but fantastic things to say about the Local Taco.
We took a seat by the window and were soon presented with our drinks--waters all around, except Jiro who went with an orange Juarito. Satchel's water came in a paper cup with a papery feeling straw. (Bonus points for no styrofoam or plastic. And extra double bonus points for Joni Mitchell on the speakers.)
We also got our chips and dip, which according to the menu, featured locally made chips and locally grown jalapenos. No complaints on the chips and dip. The kids liked it, Warren and I liked it, and we happily ate it.
We had no salsa, which was kind of sad. I'm morally opposed to paying for salsa. Ok, not morally, because obviously it costs money, but too many places give it away for free to make me want to pay for it. Who knows, maybe The Local Taco has the best salsa in the whole world and it is a total steal for $2.50.
The food came out soon after and Satchel was horrified to see lettuce and tomatoes on his taco. I removed them and he wasted no time wolfing down the chicken and the tortilla, which incidentally is also made locally. Jiro, who was still working on the last of the chips and dip, informed me that tomatoes give him the hiccups. When I questioned him further, he changed his story. "Well, one big hiccup."
Warren and my tacos came out together on one platter. We divvied them up and we dug in. Warren liked the ribeye taco but said the Korean BBQ would be better in a rice paper wrapper. I informed him that if that were the case, it wouldn't be a taco anymore. Both of my tacos were fine--a little too smothered in sauce, but fine. I definitely do NOT think the Las Tortugas comparison was warranted. (Sorry, Chip!) I would put it more on par with Cafe Ole.
Our total bill was $21, which I thought was ok. I didn't feel like I got ripped off, but I didn't feel like I got a deal either, if that makes any sense. (Remember, we only had one drink and Jiro didn't eat a meal.)
I also don't know how I feel about the whole "Local" thing going on. Nowhere on the menu (or the website) does it explicitly state how local they are or what exactly is local--other than the chips and the tortillas. It kind of seems like they are taking advantage of the locavore fascination, or at the very least, just not doing a good job of explaining how awesome they really are.
But in the grand scheme of things--if I lived in Nashville, I'd probably frequent this place. It seems like a nice place to take kids, relax, have a fancy cocktail, and enjoy some interesting food.