Monday, October 5, 2009

Tacos Via the 80's

Walking into Taco Via (95th and Metcalf) the other night was like going back in time, literally. I'd read on Yelp that the place hasn't changed at all in twenty years. They even had a sign hanging by the register advertising a mexi-pizza as new that I would guess was introduced to the menu in 1998. The menu board had a picture of each item. You could tell the chronology of when the items were added by how faded the pictures were. The tacos picture looked almost like a negative. The decor looked like it was lifted from a Hardee's remodel site in the 80's. I was immediately impressed.

I was quite hungry from a day of working in my yard building a raised garden. For some reason hard manual labor always puts me in the mood for either barbecue or tacos. On this day it was tacos as I had run across a couple of 5 star reviews for Taco Via earlier in the day. When I see something like that and find that most people have rated it very highly, I feel I must check it out.

Taco Via is so retro they had white kids working behind the counter. No immigrants at Taco Via (not that that's a bad thing), no Taco Via goes old school, from the times before the minimum wage got so high that an unskilled 16 year old could actually work in fast food. The kids even looked like they were from the 80's or at the very least from the movie "Adventureland". Next time I go in I'm going to wear my pinch rolled jeans with a Z. Cavaricci t-shirt and puka shell necklace* because Taco Via reminded me so much of the time when we hung out at the Taco Tico (Wichita fast food taco place) in high school.

*Sure it's easy to think I was a douche in high school because I wore a puka shell necklace and it would be true if I went to Shawnee Mission East or Blue Valley North. But, it's not true. I went to an inner city high school in Wichita, things were tough. You could only wear a puka shell necklace at my school if you had stabbed someone or killed a drifter (you could only wear beads if you stabbed a teacher or security guard). The 80's were a different time in Wichita, stabbings were seen as kids being kids and only slightly discouraged. Robert from Lunch Blog will back me up on this since we went to high school together.

I got 3 tacos and an order of nachos (total around $7). They have a special of 1 taco, 1 nacho, 1 sancho and a drink for around $6.25, but I have a fairly strict no sancho policy. The tacos are standard issue American style fast food tacos, only bigger. For $1.49 each, a meal could be made of 2 or 3 of these. They have a healthy amount of meat and plenty of lettuce and cheese to round it out. The nachos are unlike any nachos I've ever seen. I called them nacho cookies when I showed them to Stella. They were uncurved (flat) taco shells covered in melted orange cheese, jalapenos and salsa (you can get them without the jalapenos). Needless to say, they were delicious. When you get an order of nachos, you get 2 nacho cookies. The tacos taste like a good version of a Taco Bell taco. Think of the first taco you ever ate and thought "I'm going to be eating tacos for the rest of my life", that's what the Taco Via taco tasted like. The sauce was a little tangy with no heat. It wasn't that great and didn't bring much to the table. I'm not going to say you're going to be blown away by a Taco Via taco, but it WILL taste like happiness, your youth and maybe even remind you of that first taco you had.

I think every town has a kind of homegrown taco place that has held on through the Taco Bellization of America. In Wichita it's Taco Tico, in Lincoln and Omaha it's Amigo's. I'd like to think that in KC it's Taco Via. It's a shame it took me 10 years of living here and craving Taco Tico to find Taco Via. Now that I have, I've wanted to go back and eat again. I just have to find my Z. Cavaricci shirt first.


The DLC said...

Where I grew up, they had the similarly named 'Taco Viva' that was Taco Bell's main competitor. Pretty sure they went under but someone appears to have made an internet shrine for them at

m.v. said...

where I grew up there was no Mexican food,even fake.also no chinese.time for a hardship-off

The DLC said...

Meesha this isn't Twitter, it's totally ok to use the space bar.

Chimpotle said...

The amount of Taco Vias that have disappeared from this city is a crime against humanity.

m.v. said...

I have hard time going back and forth. I also have 3 different types of Russian phonetic keyboards to get me confused. Sorry for missing a space. I considered flogging myself but couldn't find anything to do it with.

Christy said...

Ah, good old Taco Via. It's kind of sad to see how many locations have died out--I grew up going to the one at 75th and Metcalf. I might have to stop by the one on 95th and take a trip down memory lane.

Robert said...

Absolutely I'll back you up -- although I was more of a Pepe Jeans kind of guy than Z. Cavaricci.

Tad said...

You speak the truth. I received my beads after I shanked Al Willoughby with the corkscrew on my swiss army knife. He busted me for skipping out on 4th hour for a Taco Shop run.

Also, you really should have made that drifter a little tougher to find.

Bull E. Vard said...

I was always upset that I didn't earn the rights to wear beads for the time I held down Ernie Taggart long enough for Stanga to carve his initials in Taggart's bald head.

Tad, I always thought it a nice touch that you left the corkscrew in Willoughby's neck and went back to class.

And you're right about the drifter. I wasn't thinking right when disposing of the body. The East High pond was definitely not deep enough to hide any bodies you throw in there.

And Taco Shop sucked!

Robert said...

Oh yeah, I remember The Case of the Mysterious Drifter in the Smoker's Pond. I think I covered it for The Messenger.

Anonymous said...

An ex craved food from a different dive fast-food Mexican place in Wichita. So much so that we'd head that way just to satisfy her cravings. I'll be damned if I can remember the name though, Taco Bravo perhaps? Food wasn't bad but the sauce was like runny ketchup with black pepper. It was, an acquired taste at best.

Tad said...

Taggart wasn't a total loss. It earned you the right to pinch roll your Z Cavs so they would fit inside your unlaced Air Jordans. You also could have worn your sunglasses on top of your head at all times if you had wanted to.

I had to go back to class. GH was talking about the time he tripped on mescaline with my "favorite" biology teacher, Ben Stein...I mean Dick Gribble.

I can't fault you for the depth of the pond, the green slime on the top of the water did a great camo job.

And you're right about Taco Shop, I hurled my Monterrey all over the back of Willoughby's Caprice Classic before I stuck him.

Damn I miss that knife. I really need to move my twins into a better district!

Stacy said...

That was my Taco Via growing up. My Mom still lives right by there, and I eat there at least once a month. The bean burritos are delicious. In high school I tried to get them to sell me one of their clocks, and they wouldn't do it. My sister bought one for me a couple years ago. Apparently they sell them now! The cheap taco joint I mourn from our area is Amigos. Crisp pinto good.

SV said...

anon: not taco bravo...was it TACO GRANDE???!!!!!
a favorite at our house.

Bull E. Vard said...

Is Taco Grande still around? That's the place I was thinking of when I was writing about the Taco Bellization of America. I thought they had all been driven out of business.

I loved Taco Grande but was always a little creeped out by the meat they used. It had the consistency of refried beans. It tasted fabulous and I loved the Ott's Dressing (?) on the tacos. I would get 10 at a time because they were so small.

Tad, thanks for bringing up GH. I could go on a rant about everyone needing a teacher like GH somewhere along the way. He was by the far the most out there teacher I ever had and watch get stabbed.

SV said...

Taco Grande -
2255 S Seneca St, Wichita - (316) 265-2551

2315 W 21st St N # 103, Wichita - (316) 832-1314

yeah...strange meat. may be why i don't eat cows anymore? or cats/beans, rather :) i liked their tostadas!

Anonymous said...

New to this blog just read your review on Domino's. I havent laughed this hard in a long time. Seriously funny stuff.

Matt said...

Taco Tico? TACO TICO?

Wichita Tacos are all about Taco Pronto! It's a must stop every time I go back and visit family. Reminds me of high school, leaving for lunch and getting delicious tacos and burritos, dripping with orange grease.