By Megan Curling, Online Editor
With the highly anticipated Crafted: The Art of the Taco opening downtown this past November, tacos have been the talk of the town. So, my friend Bennett Blanco and I went to three local restaurants who specialize in the entrée – Tijuana Flats, Taco Riendo 3 and Crafted – in the hopes of finding the best taco in Winston-Salem.
Opening last year, Tijuana Flats was a nice addition to the new HanesTowne village with a wide variety of dishes on the menu. The inside itself has a comfortable, yet still sterile chain restaurant feel, making it different from the latter two. With an ordering process that is not well explained on the menu and takes longer than most would want, we both ordered the steak hard tacos. All of the ingredients are extremely fresh and not outrageously priced at $7.39. The main complaint about this stop is the lack of toppings and an impressively sized, yet all very spicy hot sauce bar. All in all, though there is nothing too special about this restaurant, it is still worth a visit.
Crafted: The Art of the Taco
After the struggle of finding parking on a Friday night around Trade Street, no one was in the mood to wait around for half an hour to be seated at Crafted. That is why when we were seated at the window bar, waited on and had ordered our food within 10 minutes, we were pleased. The interior of the restaurant aligns with many new establishments: exposed wood, unconcealed pipes and a lot of bright colors. Though some argue that the menu is not one of Mexican cuisine, this is exactly why it says on it “We are not a Mexican restaurant. We are a taco place.” For the great deal of two tacos and a side, averaging $9.95, it is not a bad deal whatsoever, one just has to be ready to take a food risk. While Bennett went for the Fixie and Fedora, brisket and seared tuna respectively, I myself tried the Po’ Boy that stunted an unusual pickle and shrimp combination as well as a Big Truck which has an even weirder mac & cheese and barbeque pairing, both in thick flour tortillas. Though most orders have an unconventional mix of ingredients, there were nothing but positive comments being made as we left.
Taco Riendo 3
Following our trip to the non-Mexican, solely taco Crafted, we headed down Reynolda to the ‘Mexican Fast Food’ hole in the wall, Taco Riendo 3. Hidden next to a Citgo, many have said that the dive is one of the most authentic places for the dish in the area. After quickly realizing we overate at the first location, we ordered only one simple chicken corn tortilla taco each. For only $1.87, this location was without a doubt the best price. Admittedly, we tend to lean towards Americanized Mexican food which is why this taco was foreign to us. With only chicken, radish, onion, cilantro and lime, the dish was rather dry. However, seeing as we were in and out in only five minutes, if you need a quick eat and enjoy authentic tacos, Taco Riendo is your place.
Though many argue that Crafted is not all that it was hyped up to be, we both declared it the easy winner. With both a welcoming environment and interesting food, all that is needed to enjoy it is about 30 minutes and a willingness to extend your palette.
Photo from Bennett Blanco