Tacos are one of our absolute favorite go-to foods when traveling the world, so when we heard Nashville had a solid taco joint that served made from scratch eats with a creative twist, was family friendly and catered to food allergies, we made it a point to put Taco Mamacita on our list of dining partners (via sponsorship).
Located in the hip Edgehill neighborhood, not even the rain could keep the crowds from flocking to this mecca of Mexican meals on a lazy Sunday morning. We found street parking right away and headed in to the super cool industrial space. A former manufacturing plant from long ago, the dining space showcases some of the manufacturing equipment from its history on the walls and has some of the most creative light fixtures I have ever seen made out of reclaimed doors. The ambiance is casual but still very trendy. Basically, it is exactly where I wanna linger for multiple margaritas without feeling out of place with my two elementary-aged kids.
Before we started eating, we met up with Nate to discuss allergy practices and dining. A manager who has worked with this particular restaurant group since about 2010, he said that during his time there he has seen an increased effort to accommodate and work around allergies. For example, when they learned that most pre-shredded pre-packaged cheese is dusted with wheat (so it doesn’t stick together) they made a change to hand-grating their own cheese in house so they can be sure it is 100% gluten free. Where they can’t accommodate allergen diners (like a dedicated fryer for corn chips due to the size of the kitchen) they have worked to source via a third party. They use Frito-Lay Santitas®, a brand familiar to those of us living a gluten-free lifestyle. By choosing a largely distributed brand found in many a grocery store throughout the country they seek to provide comfort to those of us with medical restrictions.
Nate also wanted to stress that they work around many other allergies and dietary preferences as well. Got a soy allergy? A Manager is happy to sit down with you along with an ingredients list. How about a corn allergy? One country music star frequents them because they serve jicama sticks to dip with their queso.
After hearing this, Kid Allergy was ready to get his taste on. But, make no mistake. This family takes Mexican food very seriously. Remember, a Mexican mother raised me. And my kids have grown up in Texas where taco making is practically considered an art form. So it was with great caution that we began tasting the mountain of appetizers placed before us.
We started with two appetizer platters: one was queso, tomato salsa and guacamole served with gluten free chips in one tray and tomatillo green sauce plus two spicy sweet sauces, one made of mango and another of pineapple, served with corn tortillas on the side in another. Hands down the queso won the whole table over (like we were all fighting over who got to slurp up the last drops). But, I was blown away by the guacamole. I always find myself adding salt when dining out. This one got it just right. For the salsas, my favorite mix was a dab of pineapple salsa plus a mountain of tomatillo sauce on a corn tortilla. Divine.
On to the tacos!
While perusing the menu, I was intrigued by the unique combinations of flavors. I struggled picking three, but ultimately, I settled on the very popular Taco Royale, creative Sloppy Jose and unique Vegetarian Jerk.
Three things to remember when ordering gluten free: 1) Swap corn for flour tortillas (the standard is flour on all tacos) 2) Remove the hard shell on the Taco Royale 3) Request grilled plantains instead of fried to make the Vegetarian Jerk gluten free (plus, pat yourself on the back because it is healthier!)
As the pescatarian in the group, the hubby went with the General Homeboy and Shrimp Po Boy BLT. Sadly, neither one are gluten free.
In typical kid fashion, both of my children decided to order a non-Mexican dish at a Mexican place. Kid Allergy ordered the Big Boy Breakfast plate from the kids menu which came with scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, eggs, and toast and pineapples. He asked to hold the cheese and went with strawberries and oranges instead of toast and pineapples. His little brother went with the chicken fingers and chose the corn plus mandarin oranges as his two sides.
Here is the verdict: JUST. PLAIN. YUM.
Yup, that’s right. Every one of us loved our food. We shared amongst ourselves and weighed in on our favorites.
Taco Royale. I am honestly not a huge meat fan and this taco packs a punch with both chorizo and chicken. But, it was surprisingly light and really offered up something different for my palate with the drizzle of chipotle cream sauce. This turned out to be my favorite.
Sloppy Jose. The little one loved it. Seriously, what four-year-old kid wouldn’t love Fritos on anything? Kid Allergy on the other hand just couldn’t get over mixing a snack food like Fritos and combining it with a taco. Guess he is a bit more of a Mexican food purist. I, however, found this one sinfully delicious with it’s over-the-top decadence. I loved everything about it but caution those that order it to come hungry. I can’t deny this taco is super filling.
Vegetarian Jerk. This was Kid Allergy’s favorite because it gave a little nod to sweetness with those grilled plantains but didn’t feel overwhelming. As a nine-year-old kid who has previously struggled with food, he looks for a more simple taste when eating out.
General Homeboy. Hubby couldn’t get enough of that sweet Thai chili sauce. He got his served very spicy and thought it really packed a punch. He loved that they took a taco and got creative. He has had a million ordinary shrimp tacos in his lifetime but this one added a complex Asian flavor to the mix that really made it unique.
The only regret I had was our choice of dining at brunch instead of dinner because we missed enjoying one of their EL VEZ house Sauza silver tequila margaritas. They press their own lime and lemon juices in-house and make it with shaved ice. TIP: When we were there, Tuesday was a great night to go because they had 2 for 1 specials from 4-10pm. Call ahead for bar offers if tequila and tacos are synonymous in your book.
Ultimately, when we left Taco Mamacita, we did so with full bellies but also with happy hearts. We found an establishment that was big on taste but also big on safety when it came to catering to those diners with allergies. Overall, a big win for this gluten free traveling family.
Heading to Chattanooga? Don’t forget to try Taco Mamacita there too!