I've come to the conclusion that if I was going to be a serious meatless individual Mexican cuisine would be my cookery of choice because of the varied ingredient choices, spices, textures, and robust. Since I am now trying to forego flour, sugar and other 'white food products' the taco salad above offers me a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a cornucopia of taste delights sans the giant, molded taco shell. Carumba GLOBers! My Tijuana Flats Taco Salad in a whole wheat tortilla shell, spring mix greens, cheese, refried beans, guacamole, and a side of salsa is a fantastic lunch. I like a flavorful hot sauce and the TF has a interesting 'wall of sauce' and I always choose a green, and red sauce to enhance my lunch time flavors. My taco salad also can be ordered with additional proteins of black beans, chicken, mahi, steak, or carnitas. The scoop of 'guac' was special, the added pinto beans included a very nice flavor to my lunch of proteins resting on a bed of beautiful chopped greens. The added avocado dressing mixed went well with a very spicy, delicious salsa I asked for on the side. FYI GLOBer the next couple of weeks the Tijuana Flats across from campus in Midtown is not quite as busy as it will be in 30 days. At lunch the other day I was discussing meatless options, as opposed to red meat hamburger options. You know my fine friend, and eating partner if you get your lunch all the way, or add several of your favorite ingredients to your mid-day entrée, there is a good chance you couldn't really tell if you were eating meatless, or not. All the flavors combine, intermingle, meld together for an extraordinary adventure of taste, texture and flavor, plus you would be helping the planet in many different ways.
- GLOB Master
Taco heaven is located on University Avenue
By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor
It could've been the below average taco I ate last week at Las Margaritas.
I could say I'm lunching out at Back-to-back Mexican restaurants to inform GLOBers of some excellent Tex-Mex lunch stops.
I do want to feature Midtown's Tijuana Flats to demonstrate the distinctly different lunch opportunities of Las Margaritas and Tijuana Flats to lunchouters:
Let's call it the, 'GLOB Mexican Two-fer.'
TWO different styles of Mexican lunches.
TWO completely different approaches to the Mexican taco.
Tijuana Flats is directly across from the University of Florida campus and takes a certain amount of resolve to find a good parking spot. However your patience is rewarded with a visit to this contemporarily hip, comic book like Mexican lunch experience. There is also a TF Location on SW Archer Rd.
TF's is quick to show the new customer that this isn't your parent's taco stand. They work hard to demonstrate a healthier approach to Mexican cuisine.
Included on the menu is the 'LO Items Under 500 Calories' category. These entrees are made with a regular size, whole wheat tortillas and what they call Power Lite ingredients. Other healthy features of the TF menu are:
Free of charge you can add low fat cheese, and fat-free sour-cream from TF's Power Lite items.
Whole wheat tortillas can be substituted in place of the regular flour tortillas.
Tijuana Flats has some different combo platters including the Steak & Cheesy Burrito, Blackened Chicken Caesar Burrito along with many nachos, flautas, chimichangas and quesadilla choices. A rice bowl is also on the menu that loads rice, black beans grilled onions, green peppers, tomatoes and green onions into a large, crispy, whole wheat shell for the veggie lover. For protein additives chicken, steak, refried beans or black beans can be added to your rice bowl lunch entree.
This myriad of choices almost pulled me away from my lunch time mission. I was in Tijuana Flats in search of tacos. Hard shell tacos to be exact.
The GLOB lunch gods must've been watching over me. Plain as day, in the middle of the menu the DOS O TRES TACO special screamed at me, "globalización maestro!" That's GLOB Master in Spanish.
What a lunch! Two 9" inch in diameter hard shell tacos loaded with black beans, jalapenos, onions, lettuce, tomato, sour cream and cheese for $5.49. My first taco included chicken as the protein. My second taco was a beef taco.
These tacos were bigger than my extended hand, and for an additional $1.99 I added rice, black beans and a soft drink with free refills.
TF's also has a very cool 13 different hot sauce bar are available to customize your Mexican heat quotient with clever names and variable dgeres of heat with names llike, 'Smack My Ass & Call Me Sally... Jalapeno The Second Slapping,' to 'Just In Queso Foundation, Share The Love Feel The Burn.'
I was in crispy, crunchy, taco heaven!
Tuesday's are TACO TUESDAZE, a fantastic taco special that includes two 'tacos on steroids', chips and a drink for $4.99.
TF is a very hip, comically cool lunch spot. The walls of the restaurant contain many of the Tex-Mex, comically themed graphics that are displayed on the Tijuana Flats website. You should check this web site out if you are into comics, color or graphic design. I will go back to check the web site out again just for a dose of coolness.
I didn't mean to over look all the other lunch time swlections on the TF Menu including salads, tostados, burritos, nachos, flautas and many other Tex Mex entrees.There is a lot of good information on their web site. I also applaud Tijuana Flats for 'having their head' in the right place in regard to appealing to their customer's awareness of their health, well being and social consciousness. (there is a restaurant menu link at the bottom of this feature.)
Me, personally, I'm going back to Tijuana Flats for TACO TUESDAZE.
The Pluses and Minuses of Tijuana Flats
Tijuana Flats (+) indicators: TACO TUESDAZE, 9" taco shells, visiting the comically cool TF website. (see example above.)
Tijuana Flats (-) indicators: Plan to go to TF early, when UF is closed, or, be patient and enjoy this unique environment while waiting for your lunch.
The cafeteria like cacophony of midtown's Tijuana's Flats was music to the GLOB Master's ears. I will admit it takes a special perspective to walk in bravely , following the Tijuana Flats wall around the corner and up to the ordering counter in a sea of millenials chowing down, getting up, sitting down, coming inside, rapidly exiting. The wall-to-wall activity made it seem like there were 300 fellow lunch outers in my midst. Seeing the friendly server behind the counter was for welcoming experience for this non-millenial. "Hi welcome to Tijuana Flats," she said with a giant smile. "Have you ever been here before," she asked with a curious look. After exchanging pleasantries I order my go to Mexican meal these days of a taco salad with whole wheat tortilla shell, mixed greens, choice of Chicken (chipotle or blackened), or Beef, steak, refried or black bean and crispy fish, toppings, guacamole and a choice of ranch, salsa, avocado ranch or Southwest citrus vinaigrette dressing. I was lucky to get the last table in the corner allowing me to have my back against the wall and to be able to watch the college lunch day madness unfold in front of me. I love the Mexican flavors of the taco salad. All the ingredients combine for a wonderful fiesta of tastes. The spicy chicken melds nicely with the sharp cheddar cheese, and crunchy onion, and lettuce flavor. The big scoop of guacamole and the fresh jalapeno peppers made my lunch salad special. I went over and picked two of very good sauces from the sauce bar. I selected a green sauce for flavor, and a red sauce for a little scoville punch. The TF website has a clever statement identifying all the politically correct Tijuana Flats processes: No microwaves or freezers.
Vegetarian lard-free beans.
No canned foods ever.
Zero trans-fat cooking oil.
Hormone-free chicken & steak.
-Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor