Lion on the Menu? Tampa Taco Joint Sells Exotic Tacos; Protestors Roar
Taco Fusion is a fairly new taco joint in south Tampa. Perusing the first few pages of their five-page menu, you'll notice the usual taco and burrito platters with your choice of chicken, beef, or pork. But read a little further and you'll come across their "safari taco" selection.
On it, you'll see some proteins that are a little more exotic than the usual. Offered up are a host of representatives of the animal kingdon including bison, shark, ostrich, gator, gazelle, rattlesnake, and kangaroo (the menu says this one will "put the hop back in your step).
But, what placed Taco Fusion on the map -- and spurred some angry protests -- is their lion tacos. According to Tampa's WFLA, Taco Fusion started selling the $35 lion meat tacos a few weeks ago, adding the King of Beasts to their roster of unusual animal offerings.
The meat comes from Exotic Meat Market and the animals are bred for slaughter. But that still doesn't sit well with some people. Big Cat Rescue, a Tampa lion rescue facility is not happy about the taco. The facility's Director of Donor Appreciation, Jeff Kremer, told WFLA that, "We are hoping they make the humane decision and take it off the menu permanently. They are still going to exploit other creatures or sell them for a novelty, but you have to draw the line somewhere and the time to speak up is right now."
Though the restaurant recently posted a rant on its blog, defending their decision to serve lion, they have since decided to stop selling the controversial meal, according to WFLA. The blog post, which compares lions to cows (and ugly girls to pretty ones) is still up on the site. Here's a snippet:
"As a country, and hell, maybe as a planet, our food processing systems are not pretty, only efficient. They are not politically correct, and certainly need work. But if you are crying out in the name of diversity, in the name of freedom, in the name of rescuing a Lion, then why don't you cry out for Cows? Who decides which animals are worthy? If the argument is that a Lion is "Majestic" so you shouldn't breed them for meat consumption- then what is the lesson here That only the majestic pretty girls get treated well and the ugly ones go to the slaughter pen? How pompous and idiotic does that sound?"
Clean Plate Charlie called the restaurant for comment, but the phone went straight to voice mail. Exotic Meat Market, by the way, sells directly to consumers. If you want to try lion for yourself, a porterhouse lion steak will cost you $199 for a 12-14 oz. portion. A pound of ground lion is $199. Unfortunately, a lion's penis (with "Rocky Mountain oysters") sold out at $999 (though the tail is still available for $299).
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.