Taco Guild Gastropub: Unexpected Tradition

Taco Guild Gastropub: Unexpected Tradition

BEWARE: This is going to be a really long blog post. But I wanted to make sure I gave my experience at Taco Guild a fair review. Enjoy!

A few weeks ago Sheryl asked if I wanted to go to Taco Guild for dinner. We were meeting our friend Michelle before grabbing drinks at Wren House Brewing Company. Thing is… I had just finished dinner and wasn’t hungry whatsoever!

When we got there, the outside looked like an old church. Sure enough, it is an old church! According to their website, “Nineteen years before Arizona became the 48th state in the union, the parcel of land was purchased from Mr. and Mrs. George and Edna Smith for $30 to build a church. At the time of construction in 1893, the church was called Smith’s Chapel and was an evolution of a one-room schoolhouse named Osborn School. When the new church opened one year later, the name changed to Bethel Methodist Church, honoring Mrs. Smith’s home church in Illinois. It retained that name until 2012 when the property was vacated and deconsecrated. Commemorating the accomplishment, cornerstones were laid in 1893 and 1955, both of which are a part of the redeveloped structure.” How neat is that?

Knowing that makes the experience even that more enjoyable, and as you look around the room, you can imagine what it was like back in the 1800s. You will see stained glass windows, murals on the wall… You can imagine walking in the front door for church on Sunday morning.

I didn’t eat the first time I visited, but took note of several things, including their chips and salsa, a staple of any Mexican restaurant, their fully stocked bar, their impressive beer list, and their long list of tequilas. I was so impressed with my initial experience, I reached out to them to see if I could come back, meet with the chef, and give Taco Guild a proper review. They liked the idea and sent me a $75 gift card to use for  review. I grabbed Sheryl, Michelle and we returned for dinner. It only felt natural to have Michelle with us, since she was the reason we heard of this restaurant in the first place.

Speak the language of tequila.

What is tequila? Tequila is a spirit produced from the blue agave plant native to Mexico. This plant grows well in sandy soils with volcanic influences. Although there are many varietals of agave, only blue agave is allowed to be used for production of tequila.

I don’t drink a lot of tequila, but it is a spirit that I have come to appreciate over the years. Like most, I’ve had my experience with Jose Cuervo, but I’ve also been lucky enough to sip on some fine aged tequilas. Before I get too far into the tequila I had while at Taco Guild, I wanted to share the different types of tequila currently available today. Who knows, you might just learn something here. I know I did writing this!

Blanco or plata: White or silver. This is an un-aged bottle or one that spent less than 2-months in a stainless steel or neutral oak barrel.
Joven or oro: Gold. These are normally young or un-aged bottles that are typically a mixto with colorants and flavorings added.
Reposado: Aged a minimum of 2 months but less than 1 year in oak barrels.
Añejo: Aged a minimum of 1 year but less than 3 in oak barrels.

Extra añejo: Aged a minimum of 3 years in oak barrels.

Before reading this, I always thought there were only 3 styles of tequila. I didn’t realize they differentiated between blanco and gold. As you can see, there isn’t much of a difference. But, as a beer snob, when I got to Taco Guild, I wanted to order something special. I was looking at their laundry list of tequilas, and had a hard time deciding.

Our server came over and asked if she could help, and I told her some of the things I like to taste when I drink tequila. I mentioned things like smoke, oak, and charcoal. She recommended I consider a mezcal.

What is mezcal? Mezcal, not mescal, is a spirit produced in Mexico, mostly in the state of Oaxaca. While tequila is made from 100% blue agave, mezcal is made from one, or a combination of, a select variety of agave species. Mezcal is typically cooked in ovens underground with wood charcoal creating the smoke flavor mezcal is known for. For government regulations, mezcal must be at least 80% agave juice. There are eight states that are allowed to produce mezcal: Oaxaca, Guerrero, Durango, San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Michoacán, and Guanajuato.

Yep, sounds like something I would enjoy. I ordered a glass of Del Maguey Chichicapa. The menu says it will smell like citrus, taste like lime rind, salt and pepper, and will finish with chocolate and smoke. The menu was right. That is exactly what I experienced, and was very pleased with this tequila!

If you not sure what you like or what to order? Taco Guild offers tequila flights. They offer four different flights allowing you to taste your way through four different variants of tequila. I seriously considered the extra añejo flight, but our server talked me into the mezcal. I am not sure if these change over time, but right now, their flights look like this:

Herradura, Sauza Tres Generaciones, El Mayor 10
Fortaleza, Case Noble, Patron 15

el Jimador, Corralejo, Centinela 12
Partida, Casamigos, 7 Leguas 16

Milagro Single Barrel Reserve, Chinaco, Tequila Ocho 20

Extra Añejo
El Tesoro Paradiso, Don Julio REAL, Casa Noble Single Barrel 45

As you can see, similar to a beer flight, this gives you a chance to try a wide range of tequilas. I usually have a hard time deciding, but was glad I ordered the mezcal that I did. It was delicious! If you know you like a certain tequila producer, Taco Guild also offers verticals. They have four different options:

Tequila Ocho Blanco, Reposado, Añejo 16

Partida Blanco, Reposado, Añejo 15

Old World Vertical Aged
El Tesoro, Reposado, Añejo 18

What does “Old World” mean? According to the menu, “We categorize El Tesoro as Old World because it is the last of its kind; painstakingly produced by the hands of the Jimadores in true Tequila tradition. El Tesoro uses a tahona wheel which crushes the baked agave. The fibers then remain with the fermented liquid through the first distillation. The Tequila is stilled to the exact roof – never watered down.”

I had no idea! Was excited to learn the difference between Old and New World.

New World
DeLeon Reposado, Añejo, Añejo Extra 45

What does “New World” mean? According to the menu, “We classify Deeon as New World because instead of the traditional fire roasting or oven-baking of the agave, DeLeon steams it for 3 days between 104 and 107 degrees Farenheit. Thereafter, the agave are pressed only once, then disposed of, the result of which is this Tequila’s purity.”

The next time you order a shot of tequila at the bar, think about how much goes into producing the liquid in your glass. Also, consider ordering your tequila neat. This way you can smell, taste, and truly experience the drink. They have many tequilas on their menu, you never have to try the same one twice. Challenge accepted!!!

Sheryl ordered a margarita. When the server asked what tequila she wanted, she recommended their Founder’s Guayaba, a Herradura Double Barrel that is made exclusively for Taco Guild. Sheryl ended up ordering The Osborn, a margarita made with Chinaco añejo tequila, limes, and mint.

They have a lot of different margaritas on their menu, all which can be ordered frozen, or on the rocks and with or without salt. All of them sound good, and the one Sheryl had was delicious. Again, we think of using Jose Cuervo in our margaritas. Next time you pull out the blender, considering using nicer tequila!

*Please note that you can find some of this information on the Tequila Academia page on the official Taco Guild Website.

The Fare

Since I didn’t eat the first time I was at Taco Guild, I wanted to make sure we ordered an appetizer, several tacos and, if we still had room, a dessert. As I was busy reviewing the tequila list, Sheryl was bugging me about ordering an appetizer. I let her pick, and she choose the Fundido. Their Fundido is melted menonita cheese, longaniza sausage, roasted jalapeño mushrooms, caramelized onions, and epazote served with house-made tortillas.

I’ve had similar appetizers before, but when this showed up, I was blown away. First off, the tortillas are delicious. The Fundito is filled with ingredients, and could be served as a meal in and of itself. After that hit the table, I did look at the other appetizers, and several of them sounded good including the fresh made guacamole, the street corn, the diablo eggs and the chipotle hummus. Knowing we were going to order several tacos, we decided to skip ordering a second appetizer.

I started looked at their tacos, and became immediately overwhelmed. They have two categories of tacos including Old World Tacos and New School Tacos. Not sure what differentiates the two, but they all sounded great! All of their tacos are served with choice of house-made tortillas, flour tortillas or fresh torn lettuce cups.

With ten different tacos to choose from, I was going to have a hard time deciding, but Taco Guild offers a plate where you can order 3 tacos and get a free side or upgrade to street corn for $2.50. Since the street corn sounded good as an appetizer, we decided to do that. We ended up ordering two taco plates, and got the chance to try six different tacos. We picked the following;

Old World Tacos

Al Pastor Pork – grilled pineapple, jalapeño bacon, and pickled red onion. 3.95
Urban Bean Coffee Braised Beef – caramelized onion, mango jicama relish, and Cotija cheese. 3.95

New School Tacos

Crackling Lamb – barbacoa lamb, roasted-jalapeño hummus, mint chimichurri, avocado, Cotija cheese, and cilantro. 4.95
Chipotle Cherry – steak poblano straws, chile aïoli, and Bleu cheese. 4.95
Duck Confit – tomatillo ginger plum sauce, and spicy pepitas (pumpkin seed). 4.95
Tropical Ono – menonita cheese, roasted-tomato salsa, coconut slaw, mango, tomato, and cilantro. 4.95

We ordered a mix of corn and flour tortillas in an effort to try as much as we could. For the Tropical Ono I ordered that in a lettuce cup. It just felt like the right taco to eat from a lettuce cup, and it was!

These tacos were all incredible. They are smaller, but stuffed to the brim with ingredients. They all taste amazing. Each one was unique, and I truly enjoyed them all, but my favorite was the Chipotle Cherry. I really enjoyed the Tropical Ono, the Duck Confit and the Crackling Lamb, too. I told you they were good! The tacos are priced right, too, and the best way to go is order three so you get a free side.

Past the street corn, we also got a side of the Green Chile Achiote Rice. The rice is a blend of Anaheim peppers, onions, fresh corn, red bell peppers, and lime. It was delicious, and made for the perfect side for all of the tacos we ordered.

Looking through their menu, they have a lot of menu items I would like to try past the tacos. They have a burrito that sounded good, a pulled pork torta that sounds delicious, and their kale salad sounds amazing. Would be hard to order a salad at a Mexican restaurant, but it comes with seasoned fruit, avocado, spicy pepitas, and a roasted Anaheim vinaigrette. See, I told you it sounded good!

By the time we were done with dinner, we were stuffed, and couldn’t order dessert. I wanted another tequila but really didn’t have room for more. The waitress took our empty plates, dropped off the check, and wished us a good evening. We left full, satisfied, and eager to plan another visit.

We can’t thank the team at Taco Guild enough for their hospitality. The atmosphere is perfect, the food is incredible, and the tequila options are impressive… I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but Taco Guild might have become my new favorite restaurant. I asked Sheryl what she thought of her experience, and she commented, saying, “The tacos were good, and I really enjoyed our experience. The margaritas are some of the best I’ve had, and I can’t wait to go back.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. To the entire team at Taco Guild, cheers for offering a truly unforgettable experience. Aclamaciones!

Connect with Taco Guild:
Website: http://tacoguild.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tacoguild/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tacoguild
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/storyofguidion