Tacos and Tuesdays have become ingrained in our alliterative psyche. You might say it’s a chronic condition. So it’s fitting that on this Tuesday I tell you about Chronic Tacos, a franchise with locations across the U.S. as well as Canada and, for some reason, Japan.
In Orlando, Chronic Tacos are slung from a location on Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row, an area that also has several Japanese restaurants but none from Canada, as far as I know.
It’s a fairly simple experience and the food I sampled was good, though nothing stood out.
A carne asada taco ordered a la carte was the most enjoyable. It was served on double corn tortillas (flour tortillas available if you must) and was topped with shredded cabbage, cheese, pico de gallo and spicy mayo. It was topped with those items because I ordered Baja stye.
Besides Baja style, your tacos may be prepared street style or gringo style. Street style has onions and cilantro; gringo style, named for the derogatory term for non-Hispanic Americans, has lots of cheese, lettuce and pickled onions. You’d think gringo style would only be available if you ordered your tacos with flour tortillas but apparently not.
I liked the straightforwardness of the carnitas tacos I ordered as a plate, which includes two tacos plus rice and beans. The meat was plentiful and well seasoned. (So was the carne asada, it should be mentioned.) The Mexican style rice had little flavor and the refried beans could have been fried one more time.
Chronic offers a tortillaless bowl option – a bowl-rito, they call it – so I tried one of those with the al pastor option, the preparation of pork that is distinguished by including chunks of pineapple. And because this was one of the more inauthentic items on the menu, I went full gringo with it.
It had a rice base with the meat on top and finished with lettuce and melted cheese. I liked the glop of it but if there was any pineapple in the mix it went undetected by me.
The Chronic Taco website is unnecessarily complicated and unintuitive. The restaurant occupies a long, narrow storefront in the Fountains complex. One wall sports the requisite Day of the Dead imagery near a small dine-in space; much of the rest of the place is the kitchen and serving area.
There’s no doubt that tacos are having their day – and not just Tuesdays – and there are plenty of places creating great craft tacos. Chronic Tacos offers a perfectly acceptable product. But to compete with the Hunger Streets, Black Roosters and even the Tin & Tacos, you have to offer a bit more.