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#Huangry: A Love Letter to Tacos

Originally published in the Greenville Journal on November 13, 2015.

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Tacos are just about the most perfect form of food. I’m typically not one to make broad pronouncements, but truly, if I had a personal motto or a family crest, it might be something like, "For God, country, and tacos."

The possibilities with tacos are endless. You can get 'em traditional and authentic, or have them reincarnated in hip, funky flavors. You can find them at a secret hole-in-the-wall, from an artisanal food truck, or at a Michelin-starred restaurant featuring some super soigne plating. They're portable, fun, full of character and heritage. Deconstructed, reconstructed; soft, crunchy; meatless, meat-full—there's a taco for everyone. To loosely paraphrase (or blaspheme) Shakespeare: all the world's a taco, and everything in it merely potential taco fillings.

Now, if you paid attention earlier, you'll notice that I said “just about perfect.” See, there is one thing about tacos I don't really care for. It's the fact that the shell, soft or hard, turns into a carb-luge for all the juicy, savory goodness inside. It just funnels everything into my hands, and so I’m forced either to contort myself into odd positions while eating, or to deal with the fact that I’m going to get tacos on my hands. That’s plainly unacceptable. Tacos deserve a better fate than being wiped off my hand with napkins or wet wipes. (I also get kind of weird about sticky, greasy hands.)

Luckily, Papi's Tacos has a marvelous creation designed to combat this one taco shortcoming: the Travelin' Taco. It’s filled with shredded chicken, lettuce, pico de gallo, queso fresco, and sour cream—basically the same thing as Papi’s chicken barbacoa taco. The kicker?

It’s stuffed inside a bag of Fritos corn chips.

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To be clear, this is not a fancy meal. I wouldn’t even rank it in my top five favorite tacos of this month. (I eat a lot of tacos.) However, the Travelin’ Taco is ingenious. It's the kind of brilliant idea one stumbles upon at 3am after a few drinks, except this remains a good idea in the harsh light of day.

With the bag of Fritos, you get all the crunchiness of a hard taco—blended with crisp lettuce, creamy-crumbly cheese, and savory chicken—without facing the prospect of your meal disintegrating in your hands. It’s basically an adventure-ready taco. Win-win.

(-) CONS

  • Did not experience taco nirvana
  • It’s a bag of Fritos

(+) PROS

  • The queso fresco is pretty tasty—like a slightly crumbly, fresh mozzarella
  • You can walk around without your hands getting dirty
  • It’s a bag of Fritos

Tasting Notes

  • Given the method of assembly, you might have some issues getting the proper ratios between corn chips and toppings. Typically, the corn chips all end up at the bottom. 

Papi’s Tacos
300 River St, Greenville, SC
(864) 373-7274, eatpapistacos.com
Sister locations in Spartanburg & Fountain Inn
The Travelin’ Taco: $4

FoodAndrew Huanghuangry, food, writing