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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Columbia Eats: Cabo Fresh Taco

There's something special about a fresh, locally made taco. You would think Des Moines, Iowa of all places would be the last to find a great one, but growing up there I often found myself at the local haunts stuffing my face with everything from the monster choices at Tasty Tacos - a staple stop for any Iowan - to a tiny cart near downtown where I would devour some of the best fish tacos that, tragically, no one knew about. There are many things one takes for granted years later. My burning desire for a great, quick local taco turned out to be one of those things. That's why when I heard the rave reviews for Columbia's newest taco joint, Cabo Fresh Taco, I couldn't resist checking it out.

This week's dining crew, with a special guest.

Hoping to find a glimmer of anything that resembled what I've had in the past, I assembled the crew and headed straight there in search of the illustrious fish taco, or overstuff fried something with lots of it in a soft, flour shell.

Like most places we've been in these first few weeks, our initial impression walking into the restaurant was positive. The place was bustling with customers along with a fairly large crew working in the back. The menu, while relatively small, featured some eclectic choices at first sight. Unfortunately, tragedy struck before we even started as we found out there were no fish tacos to be had this day due to poor catches. Bummer. My friend ended up choosing the fried shrimp taco while the rest of us opted for the barbocoa and pork tacos.

Not Moe's stacked, but still a relatively decent amount if I do say so myself.

As much as I would like to throw praise on this establishment, which it has gotten so much of these past few weeks, I have say that this was a disastrous meal for the crew. It all started with the tortilla. Instead of the flour tortilla that most have come to love in Mexican cuisine, we got the corn flour tortilla. Essentially the polar opposite, it gets my vote for the worst tortilla on the face of this Earth. Each taco was wrapped in two of these bad boys, and even then they couldn't handle the timid amount of food inside of it. A couple bites into it and we were already drowned in sauce oozing through the taco, and not in a flattering or thumbs up sort of way.

Getting past the tortilla, the "barbacoa" had a special addition that certainly took most of us by surprise - bacon. It's true: on most occasions, the addition of bacon only results in victory. This was not the case though, providing an incredibly uneasy taste to the disappointing beef taco. Tough and chewy from the get-go, it took several douses of hot sauce to make it edible enough to plow down. The pulled pork didn't fair much better, even with the unique mango salsa thrown on top. I would have a loved a wetter mango salsa to help cut the dryness of the meat, but - like the barbocoa - it took a heavy dose of hot sauce to chew it down. And for the fried shrimp taco, more disappointment. For four dollars, the mere three pieces of shrimp definitely didn't fit the bill, and the load of peppers within only made it worse. Finally there was the salsa. Almost too questionable to be homemade, and if store-bought, questionable enough to wonder if we were being punk'd, the salsa proved to be a bit too salty and a bit too processed to be enjoyed.

No Reservations, The Shakedown on Cabo
Atmosphere: Downtown location keeps it busy.
Cost: Not swell.
Try: To heed my warning and not go.

Final Verdict: Overall, Cabo Fresh Taco hands down failed to meet the bill. They made bold attempts at changing up the classics into something original, but the result was just devastatingly bad. Unfortunately for the Columbia native it looks like Moes, Chipotle, and the various commercial brands are still the way to go for fast tacos until something else pops up. If you are willing to take a seat, Casa Linda is also a great option and locally-owned.

If you live in the Columbia area and would like to join any of my dining adventures throughout this summer, just leave me a message or email me at Till next time, thanks for reading and later days!


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