I live in a small town in Texas. When people outside of Texas hear this, they naturally assume I am in the land of excellent Mexican food. This is not necessarily the case. San Antonio has excellent Mexican food, Dallas has okay Mexican food, but you have to search for it here.
Waxahachie has Tacos.
Except for chicken, I cannot think of another food that is more widely available in this town.
Let’s see… We have Taco Bell (natch), and Taco Bueno.
We have Taco Casa (this one has a dangerous menu item called the Chilada. When they hand it to you, it is similar to a doctor handing a newborn to its father. Congratulations! Your lunch weighs a healthy 7.2 pounds! It is wrapped in a blanket of sauce and cheese and has three tiny black olive slices to lull you into a false sense that it has any healthy attributes.) Taco Casa is positioned next to a high school, so there is no danger of it ever closing.
We have Taco Cabana. This bright pink structure has a drive-thru that I believe is open 24 hours a day. They also have alcohol and offer reasonably priced “adult slushies” during Happy Hour, which make me grateful they are within walking distance. As far as food goes, I suppose they are just okay. The proximity to work, and the fact that they offer a Box O’ Breakfast Tacos means they show up in my credit card transactions on a pretty regular basis.
We have Taco Suave. Can I just say how much I love the name? I can’t say it like a normal person. Ever. And they are conveniently located next door to our local sno-cone kiosk. This makes summer street tacos a basic food group.
There is a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop (also within walking/crawling distance, which is good since they too offer adult beverages.) Good food. But nothing worth a drive.
We also have a couple taquerias, of course. They are, and offer, exactly what you would expect.
And I must include Jack In The Box on my list. Because we have one. And because they have tacos. Anyone who has consumed one more drink than their body needed has had, at some point in their life, tacos from Jack’s. They are cheap, and greasy, and there’s no better hangover medicine. I’m sure there is some science behind it, but I don’t even care. As long as they exist, in a world that continues to offer 24-hour drive-thru’s, all is right with life.
Recently, a new kid in town showed up. They offer no alcohol. They are not close to the house or work. Their building and drive-thru may be the most inconvenient in town. They close early and they are not open on Sundays. So why, you might ask, are they even on this list? Because “Tacos 4 Life” has the word “tacos” in the name? Maybe. Because they, too, offer tacos? Well duh. Or is it because they sprinkle crack over their Southwest Rice Bowl and mix it in with the pico that tops their perfect street tacos? Yes!
Holy hell. It is 8:15 on a Sunday morning and I shouldn’t even be awake. But I am. And I snuck to the fridge to nibble on the two remaining Classic Beef Tacos from yesterday’s order. It feels decadent because I’m eating Tacos 4 Life tacos on a SUNDAY! It’s probably a sin. I may burn for this. Whatever. Pass the taco sauce.
I would end this blog here. But I feel a nagging sense of responsibility to discuss a phenomenon that I first encountered at the age of 15.
Let me set the current stage: Facebook has done a wonderful job of reconnecting friends far and wide. The largest groups, I imagine, are old high school friends. This is true with my circle from Great Falls High School. As we scroll our pages, we always notice when one of our own is traveling back to Great Falls, Montana, for a visit. As they check in to the land of our youth, inevitably multiple comments pop up under the post with a singular goal in mind.
Let me explain. This place has been around since 1958. Attracting innocent hungry people who wander in, wanting, maybe, I don’t know, a taco for lunch. And then it happens. They see it on the menu. Or someone suggests it. They are curious And then they order it. A cheese crisp.
Yes, I just said it. CHEESE CRISP. Anyone who has ever lived in Great Falls just salivated like Pavlov’s Dog. If you’ve never had one, I can tell you what it is. But I can’t explain it. You have to experience it for yourself. It’s a crispy, flat, corn tortilla covered in melted cheese. Just typing that makes me realize how addictive this thing is. Because the ingredients are so simple it’s crazy. But nowhere (let me repeat – nowhere) makes them like Taco Treat.
And so, as I take my last bite of local yumminess, I click on my Facebook app and head to Cory’s page (my most recent friend who posted a picture of himself, at a table with a cheese crisp sitting in all its glory in front of him) and close my eyes and remember a time when life was simple, beer came in kegs, summers involved innertubes, friends met at places named Broadwater and Giant Springs, boys took their girlfriends to Zandy’s Drive In on Central Avenue and road trips involved long stretches of highway through impossibly beautiful scenery.
I would trade all the tacos in Texas for a Montana Cheese Crisp. It is more than just a menu item. It’s a connection.