Eating to Live on the Outside: Taco Del Mar

Okay, I’ve been on the fence about this restaurant for a month now. Why? Well, it smacks of fast food. I nasty stigma I know, but, one not without merit. McDonald’s junk, Burger King junk, Arby’s junk, Wendy’s junk—do you see where I’m going with this? Clearly, a fast food restaurant would never be on an Eat to Liver’s radar. Or would it?

Do remember Chipotle? What about Baja Fresh? Both of these eateries are basically fast food restaurants, but, each received a glowing recommendation by me. The reason why? Well, they’re not your typical Kentucky-fried, double-whoppered, extra-cheesed standard American fast food restaurants. And as you’ll see, Taco Del Mar isn’t either, at least not totally.

Taco Del Mar’s menu is pretty short. In fact, you’ve only got five selections to choose from; Mondo Burritos, Tacos, Platters, Taco Salads, and Quesadillas. Okay, I know what you’re thinking—QUESADILLAS! Relax, these cheesy monstrosities are hopeless. So we’ve only got four items to pick from.

Let’s start with the burritos. According to the menu they come with tortilla, beans, meat, cheese, and pico de gallo. The beans are good and so is the pico de gallo, but the problem is everything else. I don’t eat dairy, so the cheese has got to go and refined flour tortillas aren’t exactly nutrient-dense, but I’d be willing to make that concession. Now, onto the meat, the menu boasts a bunch of different options; Carne Asada Steak, Ground Beef, Shredded Beef, Seasoned Pork, Braised Chicken, and Fish. Honestly, I wouldn’t order any of them. Maybe the fish, but who knows what kind it is and what the level of mercury contamination might be. So what should I do?

Well, Taco Del Mar’s menu also gives you the option to order your food vegetarian or vegan style. A great option for me, but the burritos don’t really come with a lot of veggies, so what’s the point? If I walked into Taco Del Mar, I wouldn’t be eyeballing the burritos. Let’s move onto something else, shall we?

Next up are the tacos. They’re prepared with tortilla, meat, cheese, lettuce, and pico de gallo. Again, the cheese is out the window and so is the meat. If I do that, I’m left with a totally veggie taco. Then my only concession would be the tortilla. This isn't terrible, especially for a fast food restaurant.

Okay, I just spent a few minutes starring at the Platters, and, I didn’t like what I saw. The Platters are a basically a dish of enchiladas and after I make all my Eat to Live modifications, well, it’s just not worth it. So I’m skipping that one and moving right onto the Taco Salads.

Salad is a great word if you’re a responsible eater. To me, salad means phytonutrients. And if I were eating at Taco Del Mar the Taco Salads would be my bastion of refuge. They’re made with a tortilla shell, beans, lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo, and meat. Alright, if you haven’t caught on by now, I’m basically applying the same logic over and over again. So—WHAM!—after I ditched the cheese and meat, I’m left a bunch of lettuce, beans, and pico de gallo inside a giant corn chip. Provided I go easy on the dressing and not nibble the tortilla, its not a bad option for an Eat to Liver stranded in a fast food restaurant.

In the end, Taco Del Mar isn’t a slam dunk for an Eat to Liver, nor is it as good as Chipotle or Baja Fresh. But, if I had to eat there—let me rephrase that—if you HAD to eat there, a veggie-fied taco or taco salad wouldn’t leave me feeling too upset with myself. Although, I still hold out very little hope for typical standard American fast food places, which explains why I haven’t even set foot into a fast food restaurant in many-many years.

So, how’d I do? I think I took on a tough challenge this week, one that I won’t be quick to do again. Have you ever been brave enough to try tackling a fast food restaurant? If you have, spill the beans. Email us at diseaseproof@gmail.com or leave a comment. Also, be sure to check out Taco Del Mar’s menu and tell us how do you Eat to Live on the outside?
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Mason Cooper - March 30, 2007 7:30 PM

I eat here about 2 times a week because its right across from my dental school. I usually get two veggie taco's with corn tortillas, rice, black or pinto beans, cabbage (more nutrient dense than iceberg), and pico. They aren't the best I've ever had but they fill me up.

Marcy - January 5, 2008 2:31 PM

So, I get that you are not impressed with the choices provided by Taco Del Mar's Menu, but I am curious. As a Vegan or Vegetarian what would you suggest they add for you? I mean if you went into a restaurant and ordered what would you order? There are very few restaurants that cater to the "vegetarian or the vegan" so there will be meat and cheese all over the menu. Do you drive as harsh of a line with all of them? It is what it is. A taco joint. What did you expect when you went in there?

pat - July 17, 2008 10:34 PM

hmmm...fresh daily quacamole and pico de gallo, romaine lettuce, fresh cilantro and lime to flavor the wonderful beans and rice(no trans-fats or msg, vegan friendly) I have them grill the white corn tortillas until firm . I'm good with that.

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