A few chapters ago, I mentioned my desire to visit more restaurants along the Buford Highway corridor, and sample more traditional and authentic tastes. I figured that Marie and I would enjoy some Asian restaurants together, but I would give some Mexican places a try by myself, as I enjoy traditional tacos and sauces more than she does. So, a couple of Fridays back, I made my way to visit two well-known stores. They’re both outposts of small Atlanta-based chains. El Taco Veloz currently has six stores, and Las Tortas Locas currently has seven.
I had planned to enjoy two tacos at Veloz, and then stop by my bank, which has a branch right behind them on Shallowford, and then go south a little way for a torta sandwich. The chicken taco was completely terrific. The meat is seasoned just perfectly, and I believe that it was every bit as good as the wonderful chicken at Smyrna’s Tacos la Villa. I was less taken with the tongue. I keep telling myself to expand my horizons and try things outside my comfort zone like tongue and tripe. When Marie and I had been in the neighborhood a week previously to eat at Canton House, I was secretly hoping that they’d bring a tray of chicken feet by the table, but it was not to be. Anyway, I like tripe all right, but I have made a genuine effort to enjoy tongue at several places, and it’s clearly not for me, and the chicken is just fine by itself. I will stick with that in the future.
Now, one benefit of eating a little better over the last couple of years has been that I can, and frequently do, feel full after a meal as small as this. Two tacos? That’s what I used to eat along with a burrito, a big mess of rice and refried beans, three cups of Coke and two baskets of chips. Now that I’m actually paying attention to my body and exercising and only indulging on very infrequent occasions, I can feel my target portion size shrink. So I still wanted to try the barbacoa at Las Tortas Locas, which somebody, someplace, recommended, but, feeling better and feeling sated, I figured I would just get a sandwich, enjoy maybe half, and call it a day.
El Taco Veloz was set up in a ramshackle old building – the staff could not tell me what it was originally, but possibly a fried chicken place – that mainly does drive-through. There is some counter space inside to eat, and a slightly larger patio area. Las Tortas Locas, on the other hand, is a much more expansive, sit-down, family-style restaurant. There’s flat-screen TVs turned to Spanish language channels – it was talk shows when I stopped by – and a fantastic-looking salsa bar. Had I wanted to indulge with chips and tacos here, it seems like I could have absolutely gone to town. As part of my after-the-fact research, which, eight times out of ten, leaves me with an eyebrow raised, pouting about how I missed out on something, I saw the review of a different location by a new blogger whose writing I am quite enjoying, My Little Foodies, and would really like to stop by another store and dig into the goodies here. Las Tortas Locas is a far cry from El Taco Veloz’s no-frills setup, in other words.
But then, ahhh, and this is why I doubt that anybody would actually ask Marie or me to sign some bloggers’ code of ethics or something. I gobbled that darn sandwich without any idea whatever what it tasted like.
See, I was coming to the end of Robert B. Parker’s novel A Savage Place. The library had this one beat-up first edition whose front cover spoils a major plot point. In the wake of that plot point, Spenser lays down some smack and doles out the harshness. It is amazing. It is one of the most exciting, eye-opening, thrilling sequences of any book I have ever read. I was not breathing as I read the climax, I was inhaling the food, completely unaware of how my body had already been telling me that I probably didn’t need more than a few bites to experience the flavors. I closed the book, shook my head, quietly whistled a low profanity, and wondered why there were crumbs in my basket and my stomach was saying “please, no more.” What the heck happened to my sandwich?
Ah, well, most of the time, this blog of ours is about a life spent eating well. This time, it was about life spent reading well. I’ll try another Las Tortas Locas some other day, and go to town on that salsa bar.
You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s terrific for anybody planning a road trip through our area!
Other blog posts about El Taco Veloz:
Other blog posts about Las Tortas Locas: