Nearby Busch Gardens Tampa, there is little place that is open 24 hours. While it is called the Taco Bus, it is actually a couple buses and a small building. If you blink, you’ll miss it, but the locals clearly have not. MG & I went during lunch hour and the lines kept coming and going. The parking lot was at least twice the size of the cooking and dining area, and it kept filling and emptying. The local populace was trying to tell us something. “Eat here.”
We started with the Butternut Squash Centro ($2.50, small). It is advertised as “prepared Yucatan style with sweet peppers, topped with pico de gallo and queso cotija”. I think the chips were freshly made, as they were very crisp and hearty. I would describe this dish as a sort of butternut squash salsa. The tomatoes, peppers, and squash combine to make a very savory, but not terribly heavy dish. If you are a fan of squash, definitely give it a try. MG loved it.
To get the most from our Taco Bus experience, MG & I got a medley of tacos ($2.69) each. Each comprises two soft shells, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, shredded cabbage, and a lime to zest up the entire affair. We had to do a little poking and prodding when the dish came, since we weren’t sure which was which on first inspection. The Carne Asada (grilled steak marinated in Mexican seasonings) was nice, but won’t be replacing Baja’s for my favorite Carne Asada anytime soon. The Carne de Res Desebrada (Northern Mexico style meaty shreds of beef with tomatoes and chiles) is a nice medley of flavors that should not frightened the pepper-aversed. The Barbaca (braised beef) was okay, tasty, but ultimately a little dull. The Cochinita Pibil (shredded pork marinated in achiote and bitter orange, then wrapped in banana leaves and slow roasted in a smoker / based on a 5,000 year old Mayan recipe), is well prepared, but does not live up to the hype of that long-ass description. The Lengua (beef tongue) was very good. It is a very savory flavor cooked until very tender and cut into nice cubes. It was my favorite of the bunch.
It may sound like I’m dismissing many of the tacos, but I’m not. They were tasty and nice, but did not blow me away. However, the fact that they are open all the time, their prices are good, and their service is quick, makes up for not being a culinary masterpiece. If you are on your way to Busch Gardens, this is certainly a better bet that amusement park food. In addition to the beef and pork offerings, they also have seafood (fish and shrimp) and a wide variety of vegetarian options, including roasted Poblano pepper, tofu, tempeh, and soy “steak strips”. Also, anyplace with a sign like this is worth a shot.
913 East Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604