What was ordered: Chips and guacamole ($5.50), one taco dorado ($2.75), one shrimp gobernador taco ($3.75), one asada caramelo ($2.75) and one soft taco with pork ($1.50) for a total of $16.25 before tax and tip, well within our Cheap Eats goal of $20 for two.
Comments: Mexican cuisine boasts a dizzying array of specialties and niches—from Sonoran street food to spicy seafood—but the strangest genre in Tucson has got to be the “yuppie taco bar.”
These hybrid establishments may seem redundant in a city with at least a dozen margarita flavors, but they really serve a cuisine all their own. The yuppie taco bar establishment, popularized by the Tex-Mex biker hangout Chuy’s, features gringo-fied tacos and burritos, cheap beer and a lot of drunk people. (Case in point: When Bush daughters Barbara and Jenna were cited for underage drinking in 2001, they were at a Chuy’s.)
But despite its homely beginnings, Taco Bron on Tanque Verde serves tacos that are surprisingly authentic. And their food and patio atmosphere are much better than Chuy’s as well.
But beware: The menu at this establishment is actually different than the one they advertise online, and significantly more expensive. If we had realized the combination plates were in the $8 range instead of $6, we would have skipped the guacamole altogether and went for some sustenance.
As it was, our guacamole plate turned out to be the highlight of the night. I was suspicious at first because it came without what I consider a pivotal part of guacamole: tomatoes. But the aggressive seasoning of lime and salt made up for the missing flavor.
Strangely, the entire meal was actually absent of tomatoes. Our server brought over refried beans instead of salsa, and our tacos were smothered with cabbage instead. (They do offer salsa on request.)
Fortunately, the soft green peppers in the greasy shrimp gobernador acted as a substitute. The crispy-shell taco dorado with pork and the soft taco with pork ($1.50 special on Tuesday nights, regularly $2.35) both had a pickled red onion garnish, juxtaposing the tough texture of the beef and crunch of the cabbage. Minimalistic and authentic, the tacos and crunchy beef caramelo reminded me of what you would get at a food stand in Nogales, Son. Overall, it was a nice surprise after an authentically “yuppie” night.
Service: Table service is nice and attentive.
Bar: full; on Tuesdays and during happy hour Monday through Friday from 3 -7 p.m., Mexican draft beers are two-for-one (normally, $3.75 a piece.)
Bottom line: If you live on the East Side, this is one of your best option for a leisurely dinner and cheap drinks.The atmosphere is laid back and the food is relatively authentic. But the restaurant is probably best on a Tuesday, when the patio is less crowded and the deals last all night long.