In case you haven’t heard, there was a taco contest going on this summer in Kosciusko County to find the best taco within our county’s boundaries. No, it’s not the one currently being hosted by the county’s visitor’s bureau. It was held by a baker’s dozen of taco-loving, salsa-dipping, refried-beans-scooping peeps just like me and you. The self-proclaimed “taco judges” traipsed all over the county, winding their way around unending lakes, dashing deer and spilled margaritas in search of the best taco served in a food truck, restaurant, grocery store or other eating establishment.
Labeling the taco competition as the “Savor K County Taco Tour,” the judges sampled tacos from over a dozen spots with each stop including various takes on the classic Mexican dish. No, Taco Bell wasn’t included so if you were hoping to see this bastardized take somewhere on this list you can just stop reading now and go back to squeezing your “authentic” fire sauce haphazardly all over the place.
Thanks to our neighbors who hail from a Mexican lineage/background, traditional tacos weren’t hard to find. From Cardoso Café to Carniceria San Jose, the taco judges judged each taco based on a weighted scale of characteristics which included the following:
Tortilla – Does it hold everything together without falling apart? Slightly charred handmade corn (good) or steamed flour (not good)
Protein – How does the meat/chicken/fish/nopales etc. taste on their own? How is the texture?
Salsa (red and green) – How does it taste on its own? For example, green salsa should be refreshingly tart and thick and rich in texture. How does it add to the taco? If offered, how is the guacamole?
Toppings – Does it come with finely minced onion, chopped non-wilted cilantro and a lime slice? How do the toppings contribute to or take away from the overall balance of the taco?
Presentation – How does it look? If at a food truck, is it securely packaged without creating a mess? If at a restaurant, does its first appearance “wow” you or is it a messy scramble of ingredients? Is it warm or does it feel like it’s been sitting in the kitchen for a few hours?
Overall Taste – After all the above, how does it taste?
When it was all said and done, there was once place that sat squarely atop the mountain of corn tortillas, salsa and protein – Taqueria El Comal. With one judge blathering on about their steak, chorizo and al pastor takes and others describing them as “simply perfect” and “heaven on a plate,” the small restaurant on East Winona Avenue in Warsaw was the clear favorite in our contest.
Honorable mentions went to Carniceria San Jose’s pork tacos (“I can grocery shop while I wait!) and the Tacos Jalisco food truck (convenience and “Seriously, that lake view!”). The grilled chicken tacos at El Faro (the Rozella Ford golf course location) also received a special shout out as one judge asked for and received a traditional style taco with onions, cilantro and limes that was served with a different salsa.
The contest is over, the taco judges are retired and summer is coming to a close. If you’d still like to have a say in determining the county’s best taco, though, you can head over to the Kosciusko Taco Wars site and vote for your favorite taco restaurant. Or we’ll just save you some time and tell you that El Comal will win.
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