“Don’t judge your taco by its price,” is among the saner advice prescribed by Hunter S. Thompson in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” — and for good reason. While the structure of the taco has remained relatively unchanged, the innovation of Tampa’s taco scene has elevated this one-time street food to new gastronomic heights while keeping the price at the curb.
Seminole Heights is known for its unique eats, but Xtreme Tacos pushes Southwestern cuisine to its gastronomical limit. Fuel up with an Xtreme Taco ($4) with grouper, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole and fresh mozzarella, paired with Tex-Mex-inspired Buffalo Loaded Fries ($9) – french fries topped with your choice of tempura battered shrimp or breaded chicken in Xtreme’s spicy buffalo sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole and queso.
Green Lemon’s successful translation of street food to gourmet table fare is thanks to winning combinations of fresh, unorthodox ingredients. Try the Kung Fu’d Tuna ($4) made with blackened tuna, pickled onions, mango, cucumber, cilantro, avocado and Mexican sriracha aioli. Can’t pick just one? With the Street Trio ($11) pick any three tacos plus your choice of a side.
Plenty of tacos are marketed as a modern spin on the ones you grew up eating, but at Acapulco the sweet and salty taste of the old country is updated with a tropical Tampa flair. Try the tacos al pastor ($2), made with pork, chili and pineapple, or the pineapple- and soy sauce-marinated steak fajita taco ($2). The sopes ($8) – a flatbread-like fried tortilla with beans, lettuce, salsa and cotija cheese – are a deliciously authentic alternative.