Top Taco
May 17 2019

Tacos and Margaritas! Life is Good at the Third Annual Top Taco Event

By: Gustavo Escanelle and Kathy Bradshaw

Everyone loves tacos. And what's even better than Taco Tuesday? A Thursday night with hundreds of varieties of tacos and margaritas to sample until your heart's content. So it was with last night's Top Taco event, the annual taco-lover's extravaganza that takes place along the riverfront. There were tacos with brisket and tacos with braised beef, tacos with pork and tacos with duck. There were curried tacos and pineapple salsa-bedecked tacos.

A few stand-outs (and some winners) included Johnny Sanchez's meatball taco, Ugly Dog Saloon's amazingly flavorful shrimp taco, and Fulton Alley's melt-in-your mouth meaty taco. And you know that ongoing conundrum so many of us face upon entering our favorite Mexican establishment: Should I get a taco or should I go for a quesadilla? Well, NOLA Cantina successfully solved that dilemma with their Gringa Taco, which had a delicious pork taco served atop a quesadilla.

On the margarita side, Velvet Cactus did a lovely strawberry jalapeno margarita, and Olmeca Altos had a delicious hibiscus margarita. Lucy's pineapple margarita deserves a mention, and Nacho Mama's highly sippable berry-mint margarita was among my favorites of the evening. There were also ample tequila and mezcal tastings available, in case you prefer your 'ritas without the juice.

But the fun went beyond just tacos and tequila, as if that isn't enough to keep anyone happy. For instance, if you happened to have an agave aversion, there was beer and even rum and vodka on hand. Mexican wrestlers showed off their skills in the lucha libre ring. There were also games, such as cornhole and Connect 4. Fidelity Bank came out and was offering goodies for spinning their magic prize wheel. And throughout the taco fest, there were all kinds of gifts and swag for the taking, such as sunglasses, tote bags, pins, and hats. Finally, the giant lit-up "I Love Tacos" sign was surely the Instagram hit of the night, as everyone waited in line to get photos in front of it.

The restaurants at Top Taco were competing to win titles in a number of categories, including best traditional and best creative taco, as well as best traditional and best creative cocktail. There were official judges who had the lucky job of sampling one of each to choose the winners. But everyone on site got to weigh in as well-voting for the "people's choice" categories by dropping a chip in the box beside their favorites. Below is the list of all the winners.

TACOS

Critic's Choice, Traditional Taco:

First place: Los Jefes Grill

Second place: Wayfare

Third place: Espiritu

Critic's Choice, Creative Taco:

First Place: Johnny Sanchez

Second Place: Los Jefes Grill

Third Place: Zocalo

People's Choice, Traditional Taco:

First Place: Barracuda

Second Place: Los Jefes Grill

Third Place: Espiritu

People's Choice, Creative Taco:

First Place: Johnny Sanchez

Second Place: Ugly Dog Saloon

Third Place: Los Jefes Grill

DRINKS

Critic's Choice, Traditional Margarita:

First Place: Velvet Cactus

Second Place: Barracuda

3rd Place: Casa Borrega

Critic's Choice, Creative Cocktail:

First Place: Tacos & Beer

Second Place: Los Jefes Grill

Third Place: Warbucks

People's Choice, Traditional Margarita:

First Place: Velvet Cactus

Second Place: Zocalo

Third Place: Casa Borrega

People's Choice, Creative Cocktail:

First Place: Los Jefes Grill

Second Place: Casa Maria

Third Place: Warbucks

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