Dozens of taco-themed restaurants are found in Tampa Bay, not including the 15 Taco Bells that are on nearly every corner. With such massive quantities, it is all too easy to miss out on a local gem in the chaos.
However, three restaurants rise above the masses, easily earning the title of “best tacos in the Bay.” And all partake in the sacred celebration known as Taco Tuesday.
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
A newcomer to the USF area. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop opens Friday on Fowler Avenue and 56th Street and offers 10 percent off for students, making it an ideal location for those at USF.
“The food is made from scratch, we use super bold flavors and we’re not afraid to use a little spice,” said Ian Lieberman, one of the owner operators of the Fowler location. “We slow cook all the meats, which increases the flavor. We take a lot of time in preparing it and I think you taste that.”
Lieberman said customer favorites include the slow-cooked brisket, spicy pulled pork and the California Heat Taco, which features grilled and tempura-fried shrimp and sriracha sauce.
The restaurant also is open for breakfast, with specialties like huevos rancheros and breakfast tacos and burritos.
Fuzzy’s has beer, liquor and six barrels of frozen drinks. The 11 televisions at the location, equipped with the NFL package and USF games, make it the perfect spot for watching sports with your friends.
One communal table seats 22, another is an actual surfboard. The garden-style patio has converted truck bed booths and a canopy. It’s distinctive and most importantly, it’s affordable.
Nearly every day has a special with the crowd favorite being Taco Tuesday, which boasts $1.59 tacos, happy hour all day, karaoke on a live stage and extended hours until 3 a.m.
Other specials include Nacho Ordinary Thursday with $4.99 plates of nachos, which Buzzfeed voted as one of the top 30 nachos in America, and Kids Eat Free Mondays.
The atmosphere is unique, and the full bar and discount for students will undoubtedly make it a crowd favorite.
California Tacos to Go is a staple for USF students. There are three in the Tampa Bay area, with the closest one to the university being on Skipper Road. The beach-like shack produces some of the best tacos in the area, with a specialty in fish and seafood tacos.
The restaurant was featured on the Food Network’s show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, with the highlight being the grouper fish taco with tempura-battered grouper, making it a signature item for the restaurant.
The San Diego Rolled Tacos, Awesome Burrito and Cali Bowl offer large quantities of food for a college student budget with meals ranging from $3.39 to $13.00.
“We’re very well priced for great quality food,” said Mike Koertgen, a partner at California Tacos to Go on Dale Mabry. “We have daily specials as well and a Taco Tuesday special. We have something for everybody.”
Taco Tuesday offers two tacos, chips and a drink for $6.99.
The restaurant at Skipper Road, which is the original location, has picnic benches outside for seating and is available on Uber Eats.
Hablo Tacos in Channelside is a perfect stop for a night downtown. The restaurant is famous for specializing in a large abundance of quality tequila. There is a wrap-around bar outside, a patio and an interior dining area.
The steak tacos are topped with pico de gallo, the southern taco pairs fried chicken with cabbage slaw and Buffy the Puffy takes a soft tortilla smothered in queso and stuffed in a puffy shell and fills it with carne asada steak.
On top of delicious tacos, Hablo offers novelties such as street corn with cashew crema, churros and Mex-Epiphany fries.
The margaritas are as sweet as they are strong and happy hour is 7 to 9 p.m, Monday through Friday featuring $3 18-oz. beers and $3 frozen margaritas.
The restaurant features $2 tacos for select items on Taco Tuesday and free two-hour parking in the Garrison lot.