Walk past the blackboard on the sidewalk advertising the Rocky Mountain Oyster (aka bull testicle) taco special, and enter the small, plaza storefront housing Taco Fusion in Palma Ceia.
Go by the shelf of Mexican luchador wrestling masks, the artwork of the big, West Coast surfer waves and the faux-vintage Cuban coffee poster. Hear the Caribbean salsa and reggaeton. Smell what can only be described as
Step up to the counter in front of the lively open kitchen and stare at the schizophrenic menu, offering Thai pad thai, Cajun crawfish, Chinese General Tso chicken and Australian(?) kangaroo – all of it burritoed-out, tacoed-up or enchilada-fied in some form.
Oh, then there's burgers and wings.
Sound a little bit all over the place?
It definitely is. Taco Fusion is indulgent comfort food in just about every style you can think of, but wrapped in a hard shell or soft tortilla.
As a mega-fan of Travel Channel's “Bizarre Foods”, Taco Fusion's selection of exotic “safari tacos” was what initially attracted me. They include bison, ostrich, gator, rattlesnake, gazelle, duck, snapping turtle and the aforementioned kangaroo.
They're listed as “market price,” which can get expensive. At the time of my visit they ranged from $6.99 for the duck, to $12.99 for the kangaroo.
Of the ones we tried, the bison, served with a sweet cherry sauce drizzled over it, was the clear favorite. It was tender with a strong beef flavor (like steak, but even beefier), and even my decidedly non-adventurous-eater girlfriend agreed it was delicious.
The crisp cabbage, sweet chili sauce and fatty duck confit in the Asian Duck Taco all went together quite nicely too.
The kangaroo, served with the standard lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese you'd get on a non-exotic taco, was perfectly fine, but nothing special. I could not distinguish any difference at all from steak, except that it cost nearly three times the price.
The fried gator was tough (as gator tends to be), but didn't get any help from seasoning or the avocado ranch sauce it came with.
We didn't try the other safari tacos, which were out of stock during three visits over nine days. It actually took me until the third visit to get kangaroo. For that reason, I'd recommend calling ahead if you have your heart set on checking something particular off your culinary bucket list. And I mean that literally; they'll actually give you a list at the register to check off as you go.
Of the restaurant's less exotic items, the Filet Mignon Taco was excellent. It was grilled perfectly, and piled high with fresh red peppers, jalapenos and crispy bacon pieces. The basic Fish Taco was good too. It tasted fresh, with lots of white meat, slightly blackened, and topped with a thin, slightly sweet, slightly vinegary sauce.
The standard beef and chicken tacos, on the other hand, were dry, a little bland, and would be almost impossible to distinguish from Taco Bell tacos in either looks or taste.
You can get any of the tacos in hard or soft shell, but since the first hard shell we had was too soft for our liking, we stuck with the soft tortillas, which were good.
If you're really hungry, the burritos and enchiladas are gigantic. The best was the Firecracker Shrimp Burrito. It has a spicy kick, and the fried popcorn shrimp stayed super crunchy, even though they were tossed in plenty of hot sauce.
The chicken in the spicy General Tso's Burrito was nice and crunchy as well, though with the tortilla holding in all the sauce, it was a little too saucy.
Same problem with the Pad Thai Chimichanga. The peanutty flavor of the sauce was good, but with the noodles inside and the extra sauce on top, it was a big, saucy, gelatinous mess.
Overall, the place seems tailor made for the late-night munchies crowd. The portions are big, the vibe is casual and the menu is full of stuff that feels like you'd make it up after getting home late from a bar and discovering all you had in the fridge was Chinese takeout leftovers and a package of tortillas.
Good thing they're open until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.