Folks-we have ourselves a shocking upset. Many people consider Rudy’s to be the best taco shop around. Today, it came out flat, and was beaten by Juanita’s 35-23 in the battle of the beef taco. Before I proceed, I want to erase any lingering doubts regarding judging improprieties. In the past, I have been an outspoken critic of Rudy’s. Today, I went in with no preconceived notions, and even brought along the honorable Benjamin Brown to share in the experience. Although I was the ultimate judge, Ben shared my feelings regarding the relative quality of both taco shops. I would also like to note that the menu item (beef tacos) was, as always, randomly selected using a random number generator. The carne asada at Rudy’s may be great, and in fact, from what I could see, it looked good, but the rules are the rules. Plus, to win the title of best taco shop in the county, I feel an establishment should excel in taco making. Now on to the reviews:
Overall Taste (13/25 points)
First the good news: the beef was juicy and plentiful, and the taco was warm. Now the bad news: the beef was under-seasoned, and the tortilla shell, while okay tasted a bit stale. Overall, it was not a bad taco, but nothing special.
Service/Atmosphere (2/5 points)
Rudy’s, as can be seen in the pictures above is located in a liquor store in the rotting strip mall that it shares with Bongiorno’s (great Pizza by the way). The kitchen is small, but seems to get the job done. Seating, outside on a patio, is more pleasant than it looks from the road. Music accompanies the dining experience. While the seating area is not bad, ordering tacos from a liquor store is just weird, and the place feels dirty.
Hot Sauce (1/5 Points)
The hot sauce looks tasty, and is presented in the always nice large squeeze bottle. The small round containers found at many taco shops were also included with the tray of food. The taste though was beyond disappointing. The hot sauce had neither any flavor, nor any spice.
Freshness (2/5 points)
The tomatoes that garnish the tacos were fresh, but the beef was probably canned. The taco shells were either stale, pre-packaged, or both.
Presentation (3/5 points)
Standard taco presentation. The taco was garnished with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and some yellow cheese.
Value (2/5 points)
Each taco set me back $2.50 before tax. Not a value by any means.
Overall Taste (20/25 points)
I was blown away by the flavor of Juanita’s tacos. They were fully stuffed, contained very juicy beef, and multiple types of cheese. The lettuce and tomatoes were flavorful, and not just for show. My only complaint was that the beef was, as seems to be the case at many taco joints, under-seasoned. Overall though, this was pure greasy goodness.
Juanita’s is small, dirty, and loud. The indoor seating is disgusting, and the outdoor seating is subpar, basically located on the very busy, and very loud 101. Juanita’s looks and feels like a shack. The bars on the windows give the joint a sketchy feel.
Hot Sauce (2/5 points)
Like Rudy’s, Juanita’s presents its hot sauce in a squeeze bottle. This time, the hot sauce added at least a slight kick, but that was about it. Again, no real flavor.
Freshness (4/5 points)
The taco shell was clearly homemade, and fried to order. The tomatoes and cilantro were both fresh and vibrant.
It is tough to do much with taco presentation, but Juanita’s rose to the challenge. They mixed in some white cheeses, which gave the taco a more sophisticated-almost sit-down appearance. The fresh tomatoes and lettuce not only tasted good, but looked good. Because they were homemade, the shells looked extraordinary, and they did not have the disturbing cooky cutter quality found at Rudy’s. The fully stuffed taco looked even better on the sturdy white plates that Juanita’s uses rather than styrofoam.
Value (3/5 points)
I paid $2.10 per beef taco before tax. I found this to be a fair price, and certainly better than Rudy’s.