Tacos. It's what 78% of what our blood is made of. So did Mas Tacos do it's job? Kind of. Let's jump right into it.
Let's get all the fanfare out of the way. Thrillist had a blurb about this place. The locals seem to like it. Guy Fieri gave his stamp of approval (although this means nothing. If you have ever been to any of his restaurants you know he has no idea what he is doing. dudes a joke.) So unlike many others, I went into this place with some normal expectations. This is what I found.
Walk in and you're immediately greeted by the menu. It's simple really. You got a couple soups. Some tacos. And if you get lucky, the daily special. But I want to talk taco with you. In the taco world, you got some sort of hierarchy of tacos. Now this doesn't mean one style is better than the others, it just means they are different.
At the top:
God Tacos. These are the tacos that hold true to the roots but are made of the best of the best. I'm talking Empellon level of tacos ($14-$22 for two tacos!!). I believe that in the next life, these are there for only the best of souls. Its hella (or heaven) worth it.
Artisan Tacos. Offspring of the God Tacos. Not to die for, but they definitely leave a mark. You crave them constantly. When your friends want pizza, you want these tacos. When they want Smash Burger, you want these. Often locally sourced, homemade recipes with a little razzle dazzle on the top (some Guy 'Fieri' lingo - real last name is Ferry by the way).
Street Tacos. These are your food cart tacos. It's your friend who just had a quinceñera and she had tacos at her event, kind of tacos. You went to Cancun and went to Fogon. Those tacos. Cheap (that's key). Delicious. Taste like mexico.
Fusion Tacos. This is where it can go all wrong or all right. Practically no middle ground. You either are Mariota 1st half vs the Chiefs or Mariota 2nd half vs the Chiefs. Most of the time, it sucks. Its your Korean BBQ tacos. Pepperoni Tacos. Philly Cheese steak Tacos. Bahn Mi Taco. etc, you get the point. Honestly, most of the time they are just straight bad. Go to these places as a last resort.
So where does Mas Tacos land?
It's like somewhere between the street and artisan. I actually liked them. Tortilla was grilled well. Veggies felt fresh. Lime was authentic. It was an all around good taco. Best taco I ever had? No. I have actually had several better tacos (not in Nashville though. These are definitely at the top of the Nashville list!) and it is pretty much left to one reason. The Meat. It is the heart and soul of the taco. I ate the Pork Taco and Avocado Taco. The avocado one was plain and felt like I just didn't want to cheat on my diet. Yet, the pork, although it was fresh, was just so dry. The strips turned into a solid tough meat halfway through the taco. I just wanted it to be better. I really did. For the $3 price, I really felt left out. They say they haven't increased their price ever, but that's cause they know they are at the threshold of too much. Will I go back and spend $9 on 3 tacos again if someone invited me? Yeah. No doubt.
So why did I go to Yelp and rate them four stars? May seem too generous if the tacos were that bad, right?
In reality, it's because you can't hate a place that pumps out food as fast as they do. On a busy day, they managed to get my food to me promptly. But that's just one star of it. The actual decor of the place lacks thought, but that's what Mexico is like, so I dig it. It really has no order and I'm okay with it. Don't make a Mexican restaurant feel like you're in a Justin Bieber concert. Salsa music or I'm out (or some sort of Mexican jams). Another star for not playing the Biebs.
But these are the reasons why Mas Tacos gets a 4/5.
This ugly thing comes out every Wednesday and it is THE BEST tamale I have ever tasted. Better than the Mexican family I lived with for 3 months. Better than any Mexican place I have ate at in my 8 trips to Mexico. It is hands down a triumph. The flavors marry so well. The pork is tender. The masa is thick but not overwhelming. I could not find one thing wrong about this tamale. The saddest part of it all, is that it is only available on Wednesdays. I have no idea why. I should have asked, but who am I to judge this masterpiece.
Perhaps my opinion means nothing to you guys (I don't mean that. It better mean a ton), but I put my trust in the tamale at Mas Tacos. Some honorary mentions are the side of plantains. Fresh. Perfectly crisp and caramelized on the outside, soft on the inside. And a shout out to the Cilantro Pineapple fresh water (aqua fresca for you food nerds). Tasted mainly like pineapple, but the thirst was quenched.
I'll be back for round two. But not till' Wednesday.