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Nashville Street Food Awards – Judging “Best Taco”

So we’ve made it to the final category that I got to judge!

I definitely missed pictures on this last category.  Sadly, I missed Delta Bound’s Catfish Taco with Corn Salsa that took the Runner Up spot.  And I think I missed a few after that.

Unfortunately, we heard that a truck missed the turn in time by seconds.  So we were sad to hear.  Especially when I discovered it was Smoke Et Al with a pork belly taco.  After the fact, I discovered that there were a few other trucks who were so busy serving up their eats to hungry Nashvillians, that they were unable to take the time to prep their food for the turn in!  I can tell you that Best Taco was a VERY VERY VERY tight category.  Everything that was turned in was enjoyed by the judges.  I distinctly recall everyone just groaning with delight after biting into each taco.

These were not your momma’s tacos.  These were not your tacos that “Live Mas”.  These tacos were outside of the box and really defining in their flavors.

We started off with a seared tuna taco.  I’m a huge fan of Tuna Tatake which I always order when I go to Peter’s Sushi & Thai in Franklin.  So when I bit into this and saw the seared tuna, I got really excited.  It had a wonderful fresh flavor and was surprisingly light (not in volume, but in flavor).  I found out later that afternoon after the judging was complete that Jonbalaya had entered this taco.  I was really impressed.  It shows the versatility of Jonbalaya.  This wasn’t a taco you were going to find on their truck on Saturday.  It was created for the Best Taco category.  And they really blew this taco out of the park.  I cannot speak for the other judges, but I really did enjoy this a lot.  Even now, when I look at the pictures of it, I still say to myself, “Man that was a really fresh and tasty taco.”  So I was happy that this was a top 3 taco coming in as the 2nd Runner Up.  It definitely was in my top 3 of all the entrants.

The catfish taco from Delta Bound was insane.  The corn salsa was really sweet.  The breading on the catfish was flavorful and it was fried to a perfect gold.  I did eat the whole taco.  But luckily our judge’s servings of the catfish taco was only a 1/2 taco.  And it is truly unfortunate that I did not get the picture of this.  I’ll get a picture next time I hit their truck, because I will DEFINITELY be ordering these up!

The winner of Best Taco ended up going to Riff’s Fine Street Food for their Korean BBQ taco.  This was the one taco that every judge ate every bite of.  Well, a few judges were smart and saved their remaining bites for after the judging was over.  But ultimately every bite of every one of these tacos were gobbled up.  Next time I see Riff’s out and about and they have the Korean BBQ tacos on the menu, I’m ordering a full taco.  The flavors exploded in your mouth.  It was insane and quickly vaulted into the top spot for myself.  I cannot speak for the other judges, but seeing as this was the ultimate winner, I have to believe they felt the same!!!

The majority of the tacos received were smoked or bbq meat.  It wasn’t ground meat mixed with a taco seasoning packet.  It makes me wonder why I got excited all those years growing up when mom made “Do It Yourself Taco Bar” for dinner.  I feel like my childhood was jipped because these food truck tacos were not in my world.  The good thing is that they are now.  And your kids don’t have to be deprived of good tacos.

I give super kudos to all of the trucks who stepped outside of their comfort zone to enter categories.  Jonbalaya’s Vegetarian Sushi and Seared Tuna Tacos are 2 main examples.  And I cannot give them enough cheers for that.  And for the presentation points, RetroSno and Jonbalaya showed how it should be done!

Congrats to all of the entrants!!!  I wish I could give more insight into the other categories, but alas, I cannot.  I hope that next year, I will be able to be a judge again.  This was TRULY one of the most spectacular events for any foodie.

Here are the pictures from Best Taco.  Again, my apologies to those entrants that I missed (Delta Bound and Wrapper’s Delight are two of the ones I missed).  The judging was going quickly and it was hard to keep up with all the containers being brought our way!

Thank you again to the Nashville Food Truck Association for asking me to be a judge!!!  And thank you to all of the fellow judges as you made my experience THAT much more entertaining!!!!

Until the next food truck visit!!!!  I really urge you Nashvillians to step out of the box when it comes to what truck you try.  Don’t just go to the one with the longest line because you think they are trendy.  You are missing out on so many amazing eats that you can’t make at home.

See you all at the trucks!

-FTJ Julie

6 comments on “Nashville Street Food Awards – Judging “Best Taco”

  1. Taqueiro Recodo at the BP on Nolensville Road will lay waste to any of these. No contest, especially at a dollar apiece. Remember, food trucks is food trucks. Let’s not discriminate!

    • I absolutely do not discriminate! I totally agree! There is an amazing Taqueria at the San Martin Tires here in Donelson/Hermitage as well! 🙂

    • If it is indeed a food TRUCK then they should have GONE to the event. Most of the “trucks” on Nolensville don’t move. I work in the Grassmere area and love the food trucks we have in town and would love to be able to support them more, but the give I get from the non-mobile trucks seems to be that they are not there to serve me. They are there to serve the Mexican population in the area. All I got was blank stares the two times I have made the effort to try them. Maybe I am painting with too broad of a brush, but that has been my experiences. Do you have a specific one and if so where is it located?

  2. Then why not feature those places, if we are really talking about the “Best Taco”?

  3. Hey Lee did you even read the article or what it was about? This was a “competition”. This isnt “lets go around town and try foods and rate them”. This was at an event.

  4. I love taco trucks. But you are right PJ they do not move. They are staionary. They do this because it is cheaper, and easier (legally) to have a trailer/truck in a lot then it is to have a brick and mortar restuarant.

    I prefer my Mexican food from a “truck” every time and have to say I have never had a issue with them not wanting to serve me. Not sure what you did but I have eaten at taco trucks in several cities in multiple states, never had 1 issue.

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