You have to admit that when you tell someone you’re going to a Taco Festival, it sounds a little strange. But, despite the lack of shade tents, the heat, and a $10 entry fee (in addition to the purchase of tickets for tacos and drinks) the festival was a hit.
The Rillito Downs Race Park is a huge place for a festival. It was a little spread out, but it wasn’t too much of a bother. The stage at the east end of the park featured two different bands while closer to the entry point at the west end was a zip line, huge blown up balls for people to hop inside and act like a hamster, and the crowning gem of the non-food portion of the festival – live Lucha Libre wrestling.
As for the tacos, there were too many for any one person to try all. Of course, if you had purchased Tequila Expo tickets which included ten pull-off tabs for tequila or margarita samples, and stayed longer than two hours, sampling a larger variety of tacos would have been highly plausible.
The first taco sampled was a chipotle chicken taco with garlic aioli, smoked avocado, and tomatillo crema from newcomers Fresh: Coffee and Smoothies. From what they told me, you can only get this taco from their restaurant on Taco Tuesdays until they run out, so mark your calendar. (It was my favorite taco).
Also sampled were Sonoran Hot dog stand Kbork‘s Dirty Taco which featured chorizo, pork, and beef, food truck Mexico City Kitchen‘s pork taco, Maynard’s Market‘s chimichurri carne asada with cucumber and radish salsa fresca, roasted pepper, and cilantro aioli, and Lodge on the Desert‘s red chile braised local beef taco with beef tongue, local radish, and cilantro salad.
I just happened to gain possession of a Tequila Expo bracelet. At approximately 11:45am, I entered the VIP tent and sampled a smooth shot of El Tesoro tequila. Quickly noticing that 9 more tastes would put an end to the rest of my day (post festival), I opted instead for the margarita samples such as this one from Contigo.
Here are 4 things I learned from this year’s taco festival, which I’ve heard will not happen again. Although, these tips will help for any large food festival:
- Go early. If you don’t want to wait in long lines, get the majority of your taco eating done before the crowds arrive.
- Go with a group. Have different people get in different lines and come back to a meeting spot with a boatload of tacos.
- Get Tequila Expo tickets (or, if not a Taco Festival, beer, wine, etc.). Seriously, if you’re not living it up at this festival, it’s your loss.
- Prepare accordingly for excess sun. Whatever that means to you – sunscreen, big hat, umbrella…