By: Brenden Schwartz, Staff Writer
Hello all, and welcome to Brenden’s guide to taco dining on West Street, the street with the most restaurants closest to Newman University and a Wichita street that seems to have an unusually large number of taco restaurants.
Though all tacos are delicious, I set out on a quest to find which West Street taco was the most delicious. I tried many and ranked them all, and just because a taco is at the bottom of my list does not mean it is of poor quality. I loved all of the tacos I consumed.
To make my ranking as fair as possible, I ordered an original, beef, hard corn shell taco at every establishment. I’m gauging each taco for flavor, texture, and filling ratio. Price was a factor, but tacos are at most $2 anywhere you go.
All restaurants mentioned can be found on West Street between Kellogg and Zoo Boulevard.
8. Taco Tico, 460 N. West St.
Taco Tico’s taco had a solid crunch and a pleasant first bite. The ratio of meat, cheese, and lettuce was adequate. What made them different from the rest was a half slice of tomato laid on top. The tomato complemented the rest of the taco greatly. This taco seemed great to me, and I thought it would rank way further up on the list except the meat did not taste fresh. When chewing it, I sensed something was off though I couldn’t tell what. The meat is either frozen or heavily processed because it had an artificial flavor to it that I could not get behind.
7. Taco Shop, 601 N. West St.
When first seeing this taco, I was amazed at the generous amount of meat inside. It was primarily meat with a near-perfect amount of lettuce and cheese added on top. The shell had a nice, crisp crunch but merely acted as a vessel for the toppings with no contribution to the flavor. The sauce they add to the taco takes the flavor rating up a few notches. My problem with this taco was how greasy it was. When eating it, the grease became the primary flavor, which made it less appetizing. Visually the bottom half of the taco was orange-stained with grease. Taco Shop was always one of my favorite places to get a taco but in comparison to these other places, it just didn’t make the cut.
6. Taco Bell, 328 S. West St.
I first thought I’d found a good crunch when taking a bite out of this
taco, but then the bottom was a bit soggy. Similarly to Taco Shop, the meat was a bit greasy, which contributed to this sogginess. The topping load was decent, and it had good flavor overall. All around, it was a pretty basic taco but still more pleasant to eat than that of Taco Shop or Taco Tico.
5. Taco John’s, 656 S. West St.
This was my first time getting an ordinary taco from Taco John’s, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The texture of the shell was okay but could have had a little more crunch and could have contributed more to the overall flavor. Lettuce and cheese levels were what one would expect from all the aforementioned tacos. What takes this taco above the others for me is the meat’s great flavor. The meat wasn’t overly saturated with grease, it seemed fresh, and it had a unique spicy flavor the previous tacos lacked.
4. QDOBA Mexican Eats, 583 S. West St.
When I first took a bite of this taco, I was very disappointed. The shell looked like it would be good and crisp, but it was arguably stale and unarguably a simple transport for the toppings. I made an immediate judgment that this taco was going to the bottom of my list. However, after trying each taco again, I realized how good of a flavor this taco had. I had neglected to give credit for the meat’s spicy, zesty flavor, which was very unique and made this taco stick out. The meat paired with the pico on top really made this taco come together.
3. Rene’s Mexican Food, 220 S. West St.
From this point forward, we’re talking about real authentic tacos and flavors. That fact alone is what put these next few tacos in the top three. The shell of the Rene’s taco didn’t have much of a crunch, but it didn’t need one. The tortilla was tender and had a strong corn flavor. This taco was the biggest of all the tacos I tried. Over half the taco was meat, and it was topped with mounds of lettuce, but the lettuce was fresh, which I enjoyed. Taking a bite, you get a strong cheese flavor, and the beef is subtle. Compared to Ricardo’s and Taco Lopez, the meat was just too basic and lacked spice.
2. El Ricardo’s Méxican Food, 503 N. West St.
As soon as I took a bite, I was sure this was one of the best. It had an amazing solid crunch but was tender at the same time. The meat was super flavorful with a perfect amount of spice, and I was almost certain it was freshly made. The cheese was a little light but overall, it was a solid taco.
1. Tacos Lopez, 795 N. West St.
If you’re like me, you’d never heard of this little family business, but boy was I amazed. They take pride in making even the simplest of dishes. There is no question these tacos were freshly made. The meat was juicy, not greasy, and it was shredded instead of ground. The meat doesn’t carry a whole lot of flavors on its own but combined with the appropriate amount of cheese and lettuce, it was perfect. The texture was great: crispy on top but tender on the bottom. The shell added a subtle corn flavor that paired tremendously with the copious amount of meat.
In conclusion: All of these places have more than just tacos and even have more ways to spice up your tacos. I encourage you all to go out and give these places a try, especially the local, family-owned establishments: Rene’s, Ricardo’s, and Tacos Lopez. West Street is also home to Tacos TJ 664, which has terrific food, but I didn’t include it because it is strictly a sit-down restaurant, unlike the others.
If you ever get the chance, I also encourage you to try the taco truck that parks in the Spangle’s parking lot over the weekends. I didn’t get a chance to try it, but if you do, let me know where it belongs on this list.
Any foods you’re curious about? Let me know and I’ll check them out on my next Quest for Flavors.
PHOTO: Brenden Schwartz, Staff Writer