The phenomenon of Taco Tuesday isn't exactly new, but it took a while to reach Chattanooga and, since coming, has morphed into more than just Taco Tuesday. Many Mexican eateries in town have taco specials on nights other than Tuesday, and there's only a handful in town who honor the Tuesday tradition — Las Morelianas, El Maguey, Fiesta Amexicana and Mojo Burrito's East Brainerd location.
Stephanie Teisl of Chattanooga and a community ambassador for Yelp, is a big taco fan and says while she doesn't know exactly when or where Taco Tuesday started, it's very big in her home state of California and is happy it finally arrived in Chattanooga.
"Just about every Mexican place in Southern California has done Taco Tuesday for as long as I can remember," she says. "I think it's just a trend that has finally come to Chattanooga. I have noticed since I've moved here that food trends seem to take a bit longer to catch on — like food trucks, cupcakes and now Taco Tuesday. It's also a great way for businesses to get people into their restaurants on slower days. Plus, you can't eat tacos without a margarita or a beer, so that helps with sales as well.
"I'm a taco traditionalist. I like authentic Mexican-style tacos with fresh corn tortillas and loaded with onions and cilantro. Some of my favorite types are al pastor (marinated pork) and barbacoa, typically a beef one. Some places do tacos with the premade shells, ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese. Those are fine, but not what I prefer."
With all the Mexican eateries in town, it really is hard to believe that there are only four places in town to celebrate Taco Tuesday that I could find:
- Las Morelianas, 5622 Highway 153, Suite C. Taco Tuesday features large chicken, steak or chorizo tacos with onions and cilantro for $1.29 each or four for $5. Add cheese, sour cream or salsa for a few cents more. Steak is the most popular. Taco Tuesday is celebrated all day from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- El Maguey, 7001 Middle Valley Road, Hixson. Dive into as many hard-shelled tacos as you desire for 99 cents apiece from 4 to 10 p.m. Have them with lettuce, cheese and salsa. Sour cream is 25 cents extra. It's the most popular night of the week, my server told me.
- Fiesta Amexicana, 4021 Hixson Pike. Tacos are 99 cents each from 2 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday. Order ground beef or chicken with lettuce and cheese (sour cream extra) on hard or soft taco shells.
- Mojo Burrito (1414 Jenkins Road location only). Chicken tacos with lettuce and cheese or veggie tacos with beans, rice, lettuce and cheese are 99 cents apiece. You get your choice of hard or soft shells. Served all day, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Also, ground beef tacos with lettuce and cheese are $1.50.
Elsewhere, there's a lot of taco love spread around town on other days during the week
- Amigo (all locations). Taco Monday serves 95-cent tacos, either beef or bean with shredded cheese and lettuce, from 5 to 10 p.m. Favorite: Beef.
- Mexiville, 811 Market St. Taco Monday features two kinds of tacos: ground beef and chicken with shredded cheese and lettuce for 75 cents each. They're served from 5 to 10 p.m. Top with some salsa that comes free with chips. There's no clear favorite taco here, but you can order two of each and have dinner for under $5.
- El Meson (Hixson/Northgate location only). Sit at the bar on Mondays and order two drinks and the taco bar is free. Make your own, choosing from shredded chicken or ground beef and top them with tomatoes, cheese, salsa, sour cream — whatever you want — from 4 to 7 p.m.
- La Poblano, 551 River St. Taco Thursday features six varieties of "street" tacos — pork, shredded beef, chorizo, chicken, vegetarian and black bean — all served with pico de gallo and shredded cheese for $1 each from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Favorite taco: The chicken "street" taco.
- Mojo Burrito (1800 Dayton Blvd. location only). Tacos are 99 cents each from 2 to 10 p.m. Order ground beef or chicken with lettuce and cheese (sour cream extra) on hard or soft taco shells. Ground beef tacos with lettuce and cheese are $1.50.
- Mojo Burrito (3950 St. Elmo Ave. location only). Tacos are 99 cents each from 2 to 10 p.m. Order ground beef or chicken with lettuce and cheese (sour cream extra) on hard or soft taco shells. Ground beef tacos with lettuce and cheese are $1.50.
Can't make it out to Taco Tuesday — or Taco Thursday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday? Here's a different take on tacos to try any day of the week. Leave out the shell and save the calories. Instead, pile the taco fillings on an avocado. It's a fun way to serve them that's fabulously good. Rice and/or beans on the side make for a quick easy midweek dinner any day of the week.
Chicken Avocado "Tacos"
4 chicken breasts, cubed
1/2 tablespoon taco seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
4 Haas avocados (halved with pits taken out)
1 medium tomato (diced)
1 yellow onion (medium, diced)
Red pepper flakes, optional
Toss cubed chicken breasts with taco seasoning. Heat olive oil over medium heat, and saute chicken until tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle lime over avocado halves. Run a knife around edge of each avocado half, then, leaving avocado in shell, slice into chunks. Pile chicken on top of each avocado half, then top with tomatoes, onion, cheese and sour cream. Sprinkle red pepper flakes over top for a spicier "taco," if desired.
Note: Provide spoons for easier eating.
NEW ON THE MARKET
The next time you're in one of the two Chattanooga Earth Fare stores — on Gunbarrel Road or Hixson Pike — be on the lookout for Abby's Better Nut Butter. It's a new product with a fascinating story.
They were created by then-15-year-old Abby Kircher in her parents' kitchen in Mooresville, N.C. She was hungry and wanted a healthful snack but was stuck at home with no means of transportation. So she used what she had on hand: a blender and some nuts and other flavorings.
Out of this desire to eat healthfully, a business was born that has now taken hold and sold in stores around the nation as well as online at abbysbetter.com. The nutty butters come in several flavors, including Strawberry Cashew, Honey Almond, Coffee Almond and Coconut Cashew. They are all-natural, gluten-free and ideal for those suffering from peanut allergies as the factory kitchen is peanut-free.
Now 17 years old, Kircher finds it hard to believe how her business has grown in two short years.
"I would have never expected to be this successful at 17 years old," she says. "I am blessed to have the opportunity to start my own business with the help of my family, and it's indescribably exciting to know that I have so many years ahead of me to grow as an entrepreneur and follow my passion to help others be healthier."
Abby's Better Nut Butters are sold in 12-ounce containers for $12.99 each.
Contact Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.