Monday, October 5, 2009
Posted by Bull E. Vard
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.