How to make a taco: Take a quality tortilla (preferably freshly made); fill it with some sort of meat or meat-like substance (tongue, cheeks, stomach, rinds, you name it); and balance it with tart, spicy, grassy, tangy flavors (salsa, lime, onion, cilantro, etc.).
How not to make a taco: Take stale, gummy, or otherwise poorly made tortillas (mass-produced flour tortillas, fried taco shells); fill them with lackluster, dry, or nigh-inedible meat (overcooked fish, bland meatballs); and balance it with flavorless filler (unripe tomatoes, shredded iceberg lettuce).
You'd think it would be fairly easy for just about anyone to make a
taco using the first method. But Rocco's Tacos -- Boca's new, hip,
Mexican club-a-raunt -- almost exclusively employs the second. Worse,
they cost as much as $4 a piece.
Their namesake "Rocco's Taco" was the worst offender. It came with two
sad sack meatballs -- bland, dry -- rolling listlessly around a gummy
flour tortilla. On top of the meatballs was supposed to be
"three-pepper rajas," which should mean a saute of spicy chilies and
onions. But these spiceless peppers were overloaded with garlic and
very, very sweet. Not to mention cold (the broken-down peppers were
obviously sauteed long before service, and reheated haphazardly to
order). The whole mess tasted more like Italian-seasoned peppers and
meatballs than a Mexican taco. It was inedible.
Other tacos aren't much better. A carne asada taco was decent, because
the meat was obviously cooked fresh and wasn't too dry. The toppings of
lettuce and tomato were boring and flavorless, and a light sprinkling
of cojita cheese was almost non-existent. A mahi-mahi taco featured
fish so overcooked it may as well have been Chicken of the Sea.
If I sound incensed it's because I am. How could a restaurant charge
upwards of $4 for such a bad taco? And why are people willing to pay
for it? A lifetime spent eating Taco Bell and bad faux-Mex?
I felt the same way when I reviewed Rocco's flagship eatery in West Palm Beach
back in 2008. The clubby bar scene at Rocco's is admittedly fun.
Chugging tequilas from the bar and eating good (albeit expensive) chips
and guacamole is fine stuff. I get that people want to do that in the
presence of Boca's Most Beautiful, but these tacos are a joke.
To charge this much for such poor product is almost criminal,
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especially when you can get infinitely better tacos at a host of ethnic
eateries across Broward and Palm Beach counties. I had a beer, three tacos, and a half order of house guacamole (made tableside) and walked out of there paying over $35.
Do yourself a favor, taco fans. Stay far away from Rocco's.