Locations: Lubbock (8), Levelland, Clovis-NM
Well...Curiosity killed the cow. Ever since the original Taco Villa found its way to the DFW market, I've been curious to see what happened with the breakaway branch. Apparently this Taco Villa is owned by a friend of Bobby Cox, so it stands to reason it will probably be similar. My personal history with Taco Villa goes back to the Lubbock locations (especially the one on 50th - the store closer to Slide), so the Mrs. and I decided it would make for a nice and light Sunday lunch... and to satiate my curiosity.
Just to set the stage here. As we mentioned in yesterday's post, the RJG was a student at Texas Tech in the mid 1980s. A seriously money-deprived student at that. So a cheap fast food meal, especially in those days, could be cheaper than going to the grocery store. In the 1980's, there were basically 3 taco chains in Lubbock. Taco Mayo (yes, the one from Oklahoma that we've covered on the blog recently) arrived sometime in 1985, and they went straight for the bottom of the market. 29 cent tacos. That's right. TWENTY-NICE CENTS. I could have a full meal on less than $2. That's good stuff right there.They were pretty good too, though the chain has changed dramatically since then and offer a completely different product. They exited Lubbock altogether around the same time I did. I would imagine it was tough making any kind of margin on that low of a food cost. As a response, Taco Bell lowered their price from 73 cents to 49 cents. I don't forget these totals, because they were part of my very survival. I'm not one to run for the border these days, but back then, Taco Bell was a Godsend. And then if I wanted a splurge meal, I'd go to Taco Villa, who were coming in at a whopping 89 cents. They were bigger tacos, no doubt, but way beyond my budget. But I always liked them - they had such a unique flavor, and I always loved their salsas in those white coffee creamer type containers.
Well, the original Taco Villa (the one DFW now has) is more like the one that used to be in Lubbock. The new Lubbock stores have decided to go more modern and hip. So they darkened their restaurants, similar to Taco Cabana, and they have traditional taqueria type fare like Street Tacos. If I'm going to have street tacos, I'll go to a real taqueria - not Taco Villa! But whatever, I can see why they made the conscious move to be part of the 2010's rather than the 1970s. To their credit, however, they left the core product alone. So their old fashioned crunchy tacos are exactly like they were 30 years ago. The salsa is similar to, though they don't have a packaged one, which can sometimes effect the consistency. In the end, it probably wasn't worth going to - only because we have one in DFW that is almost the exact same for what we order at these kind of places. But if you're in Lubbock, then consider yourself fortunate that Taco Villa is still around - and that they still have great crispy tacos!
The below location is the actual one we went to on this visit. I'm pretty sure it didn't exist while I was a student at Tech.