I Speak Tonight of Mighty Taco

While normally this ain’t that kind of blog and Mr. Veer with certainly give me shit about turning this into some sort of Hey I Ate a Thing and Here’s a Photo blog like he swears every girl in Brooklyn is obligated to have… we gotta talk about Mighty Taco. While it is, yes, a fast food chain, it is also something of a regional oddity, maybe even a mass hallucination. So just fit in in with the kappa, the green flash and every rural Floridian’s tale of their Skunk Ape encounter and listen to me.

Mighty Taco serves the sort of food that would result if someone had been told of a food called ‘taco’ without knowing what ‘Mexico’ was. Picture this information passing from some half-stoned stranger who had seen a bit of the world who was  giving a ride to a young man in the middle of the night. That man, dimly remembering something about the sleeping bag-like arrangement of a tortilla around cheese, meat and salad then decides to go into business.

For Buffalo residents, Mighty Taco is the sort of cultural touchstone that’s worth launching a parking lot beating over. Friends from the area assure me that dissing Mighty Taco anywhere in Western New York is kind of on par with heading down to Georgia and showing off your pen and ink portraits of General Sherman at a gun show. All in all, a rather hyperbolic devotion to what is at the end of the day, a kind of quasi-Mexican version of White Castle.

Seriously. There’s a kind of entertainment to be had by browsing through Mighty Taco’s Yelp page and reading the alternate praise from locals and snooty dismissal by folks who were just passing through. Like the musician from Pittsburgh who said “The vibes were harsh in there as well, with a heavy methed-out Juggalo presence which can strike fear into the heart of anyone who’s seen a book that wasn’t about Ozzy Osbourne in the last three years.” Most of the slagging focuses on the difference between the tortilla wrapped treats they dish out and anything that would be served within the borders of Ciudad Juarez. It kind of baffles me that anyone entering an establishment named ‘Mighty Taco’ would have an expectation of authenticity, especially as that they’re eating in a town with about 8 months of winter. One does not go to Kamkatcha for the hummus, dear sir.

What most intrigues me is how ingrained this mutant breed of ersatz Mexican food is in Buffalo life. For a city that has been marketed to the world as the home of the chicken wing and the first great failure of the rust-belt, this taco is something that is uniquely Buffalo, opaque to outsiders and absolutely vital to those who keep true to their Buffalo roots. It’s this sort of devotion that spurred the creation of something as mad as Project Chow Down: a mail-order service that ships out Mighty Taco Burritos via FedEx 2 Day on dry ice, complete with their legendary sauce packets.

Edit: The spirit moved me this morning to finish the original illustration for this post.

Know of anything in your region that resembles this sort of local following? The closest approximation I can think of is Manhattan’s Papaya Dog/Papaya King hot dog stands that sell papaya drinks. Let us know about your local fast good cult in the comments.

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