It’s what I imagine foodie heaven to look like: an empty lot in East London lined with flat tops ready to grill up battle worthy taco fillings in Tweat Up‘s second Taco Wars event.
And apparently even London was interested to see what the ten ‘Taco Warriors’ had in store, as it kept the rain at bay to allow the 400 ticket wielding public judging panel to bask in the sweet aromas of sizzling meats and fresh squeezed lime – among some of the more traditional items filling those homemade tacos!
I admit, I was skeptical about my ability to down ten tacos in the five hours allotted for eating and voting. I like to think I have an endless capacity for consumption, but truth is, based on previous experiences, my taco tally usually tops out around 4, if that. Fortunately, the smart folk organising today’s extravaganza had already thought about that, directing vendors to shrink typical servings to allow for maximum enjoyment.
And enjoy we did. The friend I’d roped (if you could call the temptation of ten tacos and two beers/glasses of wine for 35 measly pounds, roped) into accompanying me, was no taco connoisseur, and I don’t profess to be one either. Good Mexican is hard to find in London, and while my recent trip to California had thrown me into the land as far from hard to find as you can get without going to Mexico, only fish tacos made it onto the tasting menu. But man did I love them. It’s probably no surprise then that the vendor who eventually won my hard earned vote, had battered cod cheek among its toppings.
While not new to the street food scene, I would count this among my first fully immersed street food experiences. My friend and I were thrilled to find ourselves among fellow foodists discussing each considered mouthful with critical precision, and boy was it a tough crowd. I may love food, but these guys know exactly what they like and don’t like about each and every component in the dish. Not exactly rousing for any aspiring street food vendors within earshot considering opening up shop, but exciting to know ‘delicious’ just won’t cut it with this foodie public!
Understandably then, the competition was fierce. And judging was made difficult by the creative liberties each vendor took with fillings. How to pick between cod and pork, or duck and beef, when all are so different in their own right? How to differentiate between the sweetness of mango salsa, or the mellow flavours of guacamole? Well, it’s a hard life, but someone has to do it. I personally had it narrowed down to three: Kimchinary‘s “Two Cheeks, One Taco”, Luardos‘ “Beer Battered Fresh King Prawns”, and LA Sueno‘s “You Fowl Hipster Swine Taco”. A very close call but for me, Kimchinary’s bold flavours and interesting combinations of ox cheek and cod cheek won out over Luardos’ light, fresh and fragrant beer battered prawns.
Click images for individual taco write ups.
In the end though, it was Luardos who took home the crown of Taco King. Looks like I’ll be eating out for a while to satisfy the street food cravings today’s festivities set off!