Look no further than Anchorage for a south-of-the-border treat
Let’s talk about tacos.
With Mexican food merchants popping up around town, joining a slew of already-available staples, tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays anymore. There’s so much to love about these hand-held half-moons of hunger-quashing happiness.
At its most basic, a taco is a tortilla and filling. But chefs across Anchorage are blowing the lid off that simple formula with ingredients like duck, shrimp, chicharrones, pineapple and more.
Speaking of blowing things up, this is how food historians think the taco got its name: In 18th century Mexico, silver mines, “tacos” were little pieces of paper that miners would wrap around gunpowder and insert into the rock face, used to extract ore. The first food taco on record appeared in the 19th century, called tacos de minero – translating to “miner’s tacos.” So, logic surmises that the first creators of the common taco wrapped yummy, fiery stuff in a shell and were reminded of the tacos from the mines. Voila!
Plenty of places in Anchorage offer sweet Taco Tuesday deals. Here are a few:
The Loft at Midnight Sun Brewing
This is a hip, bustling restaurant above a working brewery in South Anchorage. This kitchen consistently cranks out delicious dishes. If you’ve been waiting for an excuse to visit, let Taco Tuesday be your lure.
The Loft’s Tuesday tacos rotate weekly, and there are always three options, including one with a vegetarian/vegan filling. It’s $12 for three, and you can mix and match.
The day we visited, I sampled one of each. The vegetarian varietal was particularly interesting, a soft tortilla loaded with crunchy sweet corn, black beans, chunks of caramelized sweet potatoes, and a flavorful pico de gallo salsa. The shredded pork with avocado was juicy and delicious. The third, a chicken version, was most traditional, and perfectly tasty as well. In all, it was an affordable, filling lunch packed with peppy flavors.
(And remember what I said, about all Midnight Sun’s food being awesome? That’s why I ordered a cup of the cheddar ale soup to go. It’s made with Kodiak Brown Ale and white cheddar cheese. For my two toppings, I chose garlicky croutons and steamed broccoli. Perfection.)
This mama y papa tienda on Fireweed doesn’t look like much from the outside. But within, you’ll find a warm, familial vibe, and a hard-working team who crafts food with cultural care and love. There’s nothing fancy about it, but the yellow walls are bright and cheery, the traditional Mexican music is joyful, and you’ll have a delicious experience with bargain prices.
Taco Tuesday here may be the best deal in town. For $1, you can get a simple, single taco on hard or soft shells, with chicken or ground beef or chorizo, and also choose from a list of veggies. Or upgrade, and pay $2.50 for tacos that are normally $4 apiece (still a screaming deal).
I sampled three kinds. The best was the Hold ’em Taco, which features cheese melted between two corn tortillas, enveloping lettuce, pico de gallo, shredded cheese and sour cream, and chicharrones. Chicharrones are pieces of fatty pork – usually belly or rind – that are fried to salty perfection. This was a memorable taco.
Other menu standouts at Agave include, surprisingly, the chips. They’re homemade, thick, puffy and delicious. Salsas are homemade too. Also the chicken tortilla soup is incredible, with a satisfying tomato base, full of crunchy corn, juicy shreds of dark chicken meat and soft chunks of avocado.
The buzziest place downtown these days, this bar/eatery is trendy and fun, with creative cocktails, a chic interior and often DJs spinning club music during dinner hours.
People generally say three things about Tequila 61: First, the food is great; second, it isn’t like “normal” Mexican food; and third, the portions are small for the high prices.
All this is true. Tequila 61 offers some truly sensational, inventive entrees, like the bacon-wrapped tamarind shrimp with Parmesan risotto, or the Mole de Joya with chicken and a rosemary potato puree.
The tacos are truly special. The cocoanut shrimp with chipotle salsa comes on a disc of jicama in lieu of your usual corn tortilla. The duck al pastor taco comes with chili serrano and grilled pineapple. For $12, you get three tacos. You cannot mix and match. This can frustrate foodies who want to sample different taco types without dumping $24 or more on tiny tacos.
The solution: Taco Tuesday! Tequila 61 knocks its prices in half Tuesday so you get three tasty tacos for just $6. The deal is good from open to close; you’ll probably want to go in off-hours, or early, as the word is getting out, and the restaurant can be insanely busy during peak dinner hours.