This feature went away for a while, but now... IT'S BACK! I tryout questionable food items so that you don’t have to in… Steveats. (Note: Title developed in about 10 seconds of brainstorming.)
Obviously, Texas is more well-known for its Mexican food, and especially TexMex, than New England. When I first moved here, I was delighted to see all of the options, and as I search on Yelp, it returns me 90(!) options within five miles. Wonderful!
While I've really enjoyed some of the higher-end options, there is also a chain that is all over the place out here, even more so than Taco Bell. Since you've read the title of this entry, presumably, you probably already know that its Taco Cabana. Per Wikipedia and company press releases on the web, they had 176 stores as of 2017, and man, there are a TON of them in the Houston area.
As far as the food goes? Eh, it's fine! Here's the thing – My first time there, I went inside to get takeout, but I didn't realize that most of the toppings, you're supposed to put on yourself at a little bar in the store. When you look at the basic, bare taco they give you, it's... very, very bare.
I've been back a couple times since, and I'm happy to report that the product is a bit better with the salsa and sauces you can add in at the toppings bar. We're still not talking about Chipotle-level, five-pound burrito creations, but it's a nice, light meal in comparison to there or Taco Bell.
The other draw for Taco Cabana and my schedule is that they're open somewhat late. There is one less than a mile from my house that's open until 11 on Fridays, and it was a godsend during football season because it offered free wireless Internet too. That's a leg-up on fellow Texas chain Whataburger, although that place has much better food options.
Taco Cabana is also somewhat budget-conscious. I say “somewhat,” because you don't get a ton of food, but you can also eat and drink fairly cheap. After a couple trips, my go-to order is a meal that has two cheese-and-bean tacos, with chips, queso and a drink. The total is about $4.50, and the calorie count is substantially lower vs. the $5 Taco Bell box meals. The queso isn't anything special, but its better than the “sauce in a jar” from the usual grocery stores.
Taco Cabana also offers $3 to $5 frozen margaritas, although annoying, the staff seems to waver on whether or not you need to order food with them. Half the time, the server tells me yes, while the other times, they don't give a crap. (My sample size is only two, here, though.)
Anyway! Taco Cabana is by no means an essential spot to visit. But it's great if you're trying to fulfill a very narrow niche – sports reporter looking to file a story late before deadline – and you're sick of the usual spots like McDonald's and Whataburger.
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