i ate every taco at tacodeli (and wrote a haiku about each one)

I loves me some tacos. Several years ago I started on an accidental taco diet (which turned into a purposeful tacos-for-50-meals-in-a-row kinda thing) cementing my love and reputation of stuff stuffed into tortillas. But it’s easy to get trapped in culinary ruts. After tasting the simple perfection of the Otto and fixating on the Jess Special, those tacos have been my unbending choices for years of visits to Tacodeli (an outpost of which is mere steps from my front door). So I decided to go on a quest to expand my taco horizons and eat every damn taco on the menu at Tacodeli and memorialize each experience with a haiku. Whether you call it the Iliad and Odyssey of taco quests, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn down a river of salsas, or the Heart of Darkness (and High Cholesterol), you will find inspiration, delightfully head-scratching fusion, and, perhaps, the taco of your dreams.

As new monthly specials appear, I will continue to add haikus. Your move, Tacodeli.

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Loco & Eggs (organic scrambled eggs with tacoloco [red chile adobo-braised brisket], caramelized onion, mushroom, Jaimito [Cleveland, Texas], queso frescp, ad green onion) on left (daily special); The Heather (grilled queso fresco, organic refried black beans, guacamole, lettuce, tomato) on right

#1 Loco & Eggs *****
a wind; leaves rustle.
the sun, dark as adobo
autumn is coming…

#2 The Heather ***
she sings like summer
tan lines around her swimsuit
cold water calling…

img_6812Papadulce (roasted sweet potato, grilled corn, roasted peppers, caramelized onion, toasted pepitas, chipotle-camite sauce) on left (the one the right wasn’t mine…)

#3 Papadulce **
the fathers’ retreat
angry under their collars
but sweet at their core

IMG_6919.jpgShrimposito (grilled Texas Gulf shrimp, chipotle-sesame adobo, queso fresco, avocado) on the left and Huevos Ahogados (organic scrambled eggs smothered in our Salsa Verde, garnished with queso fresco and cilantro) on the right

#4 Shrimposito ***
summer hurricanes
agitating crustaceans
mixing Gulf water

#5 Huevos Ahogados ***
like an old Cure song
swimming into deep darkness
breathing water in…

IMG_6939.jpgJess Special (migas, jack cheese, avocado) on the left and The Otto (organic refried black beans, double bacon, avocado, jack cheese) on the right

#6 Jess Special ****
in the midnight hour
with a tortilla halo
she cried more, more, more!

#7 The Otto ****
it is like a pig
sinking in the briar patch
with a green Mae West

IMG_6973.jpgFrontera Fundido with chicken (Jack cheese glaze, sautéed poblano-onion rajas) and El Popeye (scrambled eggs, sautéed spinach, queso fresco) on the right

#8 Frontera Fundido **
i am volcanic
i am dissolved and ready
and glazed and confused

#9 El Popeye **
i am a strong dude
but Olive wants to change me
i yam what i yam

El Veg (roasted JBG organic beets on a bed of sauteed kale topped with toasted pecans, jaimito queso fresco, and a tequlia 512 balsamic goodflow honey glaze) on the left and Barbacoa (braised heartbrand akaushi beef barbacoa, salsa de arbol, cilantro, onion, and avocado) on the right

#10 El Veg **
out in the garden
digging in the rich black earth
where the tame things grow

#11 Barbacoa ****
on a dusty range
a cowboy watches the moon
red as Permian

Frontera Fundido with Portobello (with Jack cheese glaze, sautéed poblano-onion rajas) on the left and The Vaquero (Organic scrambled eggs, grilled corn, roasted peppers, jack cheese) on the right

#12 Frontera Fundido with Portobello **
the management here
treats us like a mushroom farm
keeps us in the dark

#13 The Vaquero ***
on this mountaintop
the horizons get longer
donde es mi home?

Delibelly (pork belly, Goodflow Honey tomatillo-serrano salsa, avocado, cilantro, and onion) on the left and Pollo Fantastico (shredded chicken, roasted green chile sauce, crema Mexicana, and green onion) on the right

#14 Delibelly ***
i eat too much here
and it is starting to show
i need some new pants…

#15 Pollo Fantastico ****
my fowl is special
she likes to eat bugs and seeds
in the morning sun

Cowboy (dry-rubbed beef tenderloin, grilled corn, caramelized onion, roasted pepper, guacamole, and queso fresco) on the left and Guacasabi Tuna (chile dry-rubbed ahi tuna, soy-wasabi glaze, avocado, and roasted peppers) on the right

#16 Cowboy ***
the summers are hot
and the winters much too cold
but tacos are good

#17 Guacasabi Tuna ***
with his new monster
Doctor Frankenstein turned to
wasabi tacos

El Costillero (organic scrambled eggs, topped with 44 Farms [Cameron, TX] slow-roasted & shredded short ribs, and seasoned poblano-onion rajas) on the left and a Ceviche Yucatan (lime cured mahi, roasted peppers, grilled corn, serranos, onion, and cilantro garnished with guacamole) on the right

#18 El Costillero ****
so the steers are short
’cause the range grass is nubby
still have to eat them

#19 Ceviche Yucatan **
like an asteroid
that killed all the dinosaurs
tacos have landed

IMG_7523 (1).jpg
Puerco Verde (organic pork shoulder, salsa verde, queso fresco, cilantro, and onion) on the left and Short Rib (44 Farms slow-roasted & shredded short ribs braised in a guajillo-pasilla adobo and garnished with a bright jalapeño escabeche)

#20 Puerco Verde ***
ate this new green deal
made with pork and a green sauce
it has got my vote!

#21 Short Rib ***
it’s been a long time
since I’ve eaten a short rib
and it was just right!

IMG_7565.jpgEl Conquistador (roasted organic pork shoulder, chile pasilla sauce, avocado, cilantro, and onion) on the left and Pollo En Pipián Rojo (shredded chicken, red pipián, avocado, and sesame seeds) on the right

#22 El Conquistador ***
Spaniards with boom sticks
rode into town on horses

#23 Pollo En Pipián Rojo ****
the sun rose up high
and the chicken wiped her brow
fire on tortilla

IMG_7623.jpgSirloin, Egg & Cheese (organic scrambled eggs, grilled sirloin, and jack cheese) on the left and Migas (organic scrambled eggs, tomato, onion, jalapeño, tortilla chips, and jack cheese) on the right

#24 Sirloin, Egg & Cheese **
sometimes the prairie
is all I need for living
just keep it simple…

#25 Migas ***
tradition’s mother
is history and passion
and a hot summer

IMG_7641.jpgArrachera Steak (Heartbrand beef Akaushi coulotte Steak [Harwood, TX], topped with salsa verde, grilled green onions, avocado and jamito queso fresco [Cleveland, TX]) on the left and Shrimp and Chorizo Grits (fried organic egg on a bed of housemade chorizo & Richardson Farms grits [Rockdale, TX], grilled Texas Gulf shrimp, Maseca Chile Roux, and green onion) on the right

#26 Arrachera Steak ***
they say i’m too old
to be hitting the town and
chasing that skirt steak

#27 Shrimp and Chorizo Grits ***
Mexico moves north
and fuses with our culture:
a big pig mermaid

IMG_7692.jpgTikin Xic (achiote-marinated grilled salmon, spicy salsa negra, habanero-onion escabeche, and cilantro) on the left and Banh Mi (organic pork shoulder, chile tomatillo sweet & sour sauce, carrot-daikon escabeche, basil, and cilantro) on the right

#28 Tikin Xic ****
fish and sour oranges
in the way of the Mayan
except it is grilled

#29 Banh Mi ***
southeastern Asia
with a French fusion cuisine
now in a taco

IMG_7839.jpgAl Pastor (organic pork shoulder, red chile adobe, cilantro, and onion) on the left and Shrimp (grilled Texas gulf shrimp, jack cheese glaze, and sautéed poblano-onion rajas) on the right

#30 Al Pastor ***
with the Lebanese
came stories of spit-fired pork
another fusion…

#31 Shrimp ***
tiny crustaceans
wiggling among the oceans
totilla’d insects

IMG_7932Pollo Adobado (chicken breast, red chile adobo, cilantro, and onion) on the left and El Picosito (grilled beef tenderloin, chipotle-sesame sauce, avocado, and queso fresco) on the right

#32 Pollo Adobado ****
it’s marinated
with the deepest red chile
and kissed with sunshine

#33 El Picosito *****
time is forever
but spring arrives one a year
tastes like history

IMG_7972Happy Taco (shredded chicken, sautéed mushroom, jack cheese glaze, cilantro, and onion) on the left and Mexico City Sirloin (grilled sirloin, onion, and cilantro) on the right

#34 Happy Taco ****
came in feeling sad
like the world was going down
but now I’m OK

#35 Mexico City Sirloin **
Cow Town in My Town
but I don’t know how to say
“Moo” in espanol

IMG_7979.jpgAkaushi Picadillo (seasoned HeartBrand Ranch akaushi ground beef, jack cheese glaze, cilantro, and onion) on the left and Pollo En Mole (shredded chicken, housemade mole, queso fresco, cilantro, and onion) on the right

#36 Akaushi Picadillo ***
Japanese cattle
reliable as Hondas
with some cilantro

#37 Pollo En Mole ****
bug-eating yard fowl
steeped in historic mole
elevated chow

IMG_8031.jpgMojo Fish (grilled line-caught Texas Gulf Drum, mojo-garlic sauce, guacamole, and pico de gallo) on the left and Tacoloco (red chile adobo braised brisket, caramelized onion, mushroom, guacamole, cilantro, and queso fresco) on the right

#38 Mojo Fish ***
estuary eve
the slow drumbeat of Gulf waves
a tug on the line

#39 Tacoloco ****
eyes darting about
“I need my fix! NEED TACOS!!!”
Don’t call me crazy!

IMG_8095.jpgFreakin’ Vegan (organic refried black beans, avocado, and pico de gallo) on the left and ‘Shroom & Lamb (slow-roasted capra lamb shoulder, Kitchen Pride shiitake mushrooms, chile-forward mole, Honey Doe Farms & Creamery goat’s milk queso fresco, toasted sesame seeds, and green onion) on the right

#40 Freakin’ Vegan ***
talkin’ bout tacos
have I told you about this?
its vegan. Vegan!!!

#41 ‘Shroom & Lamb ***
back in the sixties
i ate a lot of mushrooms
magical tacos

IMG_8140.jpgCarne Asada (all-natural grilled ribeye, avocado, cilantro, onion, and lime wedge) on the left and Space Cowboy (roasted Kitchen Pride portobello, grilled corn, caramelized onion, roasted pepper, guacamole, and queso fresco) on the right

#42 Carne Asada ***
when I took the stand
for cross examination
i could smell sizzle

#43 Space Cowboy ***
there’s more than cattle
and a campfire in winter
speak the first moonword… 

IMG_8164.jpgTaco Sano (vegan nut chorizo, whole black beans, sauteed spinach, Kitchen Pride portobello mushrooms, Gundermann Acres sweet potatoes [Glen Flora, TX], salsa de arbol, and Cheesemakers Queso Fresco [Cleveland, TX]) on the left and Taco Blanco (egg white and mashed potatoes) on the right

#44 Taco Sano ***
hold the living things
the things with lives of their own
things with eyes and hearts

#45 Taco Blanco ***
Le Corbusier
would have eaten this taco
(if he ate tacos)

IMG_8247.jpgFrontera Fundido with Beef (jack cheese glaze and sautéed poblano-onion rajas) on the left

#46 Frontera Fundido with Beef **
a hot grill beckons
a sizzle and spit when touched
ticklish flames of fall

IMG_8358.jpgChile Relleno (roasted poblano pepper filled with organic pork cochinita pibil, orange ancho sauce, pickled onion & serrano, and queso fresco) on the left and Cochinita Pibil (achiote marinated roasted pork, pickled red onion, and serrano) on the right

#47 Chile Relleno ***
peppers so lanky
demanding to be embraced
a green tortilla

#48 Cochinita Pibil  ****
from the Yucatán
where fiery summers rage
a splash of citrus

IMG_8361.jpgAguachile (Texas gulf shrimp, fresh lime juice, serrano tomatillo salsa, avocado, and radish) on the left and Scallops (grilled scallops, mojo garlic sauce, roasted peppers, and grilled corn) on the right

#49 Aguachile ***
water is water
but water from underground
has kissed the mountains

#50 Scallops ***
they say that the sea
is salty from all the tears
of mermaids on shells

IMG_8375.jpgMexico City Chicken (grilled chicken breast, cilantro, and onion) on the left and Hamón el Suavecito (tender-belly smoked ham, gruyere & jack cheese glaze, green onion, and scrambled vital farms pasture-raised eggs) on the right

#51 Mexico City Chicken ***
the streets are busy
for a mother hen in spring
where are all my eggs?

#52 Hamón el Suavecito ***
a pig is a pig
unless that pig is cuddly
el suavecito!

IMG_8579.jpgAkaushi Hanger (grilled HeartBrand akaushi steak, cilantro-mexichurri, queso fresco, and green onion) on the left and Bean & Cheese (organic refried black beans and jack cheese) on the right

#53 Akaushi Hanger ****
tacos are like love
no borders and no oceans
Japanese brown cow

#54 Bean & Cheese ***
a simple concept
a tortilla, beans, and cheese
it’s like oxygen

Pistachio Salmon (grilled pistachio crusted salmon, pistachio salsa, habanero escabeche) on the left and Conquistador Machado (tequila & sherry braised organic pork shoulder, chile pasilla-basil mojo sauce, pasture-raised scrambled eggs, pico de gallo) on the right.

#55 Pistachio Salmon ***
faraway Asia
provided the bright green seeds
that hug ray-finned fish

#56 Conquistador Machado ***
swing a battle axe
but use it to prepare food
not to maim locals

Cowboy Madruguero (grilled dry-rubbed beef tenderloin, vital farms scarmbled eggs, grilled corn, caramelized onion, roasted peppers, guacamole, and queso fresco) on the left and Lomito Adobado (abodo-marinated grilled pork tenderloin, habanero & onion escabeche, and cilantro) on the right

#57 Cowboy Madruguero ***
riding on the hill
in the distance, a sunset
where the cowboy lives

#58 Lomito Adobado ***
pork pulls like a mass
a deep pit of gravity
Chilean taco

My Morning Taco (choice of house-made topping: tender belly pork sausage, chorizo or vegan nut chorizo [went with chorizo] with Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs, grilled corn, roasted peppers, and queso fresco)

#59 My Morning Taco **
strum of a guitar
a melody of flavor
Kentucky rhythm

A.M. Akaushi (heartbrand akaushi ground beef [harwood, tx], vital farms pasture-raised scrambled eggs, jack cheese glaze, salsa de arbol, and cilantro) on the left and the Otto (previously haiku’d) on the right.

#60 A.M. Akaushi ***
as the sun rises
i hear the distant bellows
of japanese cows

El Picosito (previously haiku’d) on the left and the Lomo Ahumado (in-house smoked tender belly pork loin, salsa negra, habanero escabeche, and avocado) on the right.

#61 Lomo Ahumado ***
like a feral pig
separated from her kin
angry as all hell!


7 thoughts on “i ate every taco at tacodeli (and wrote a haiku about each one)

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