The Taco Bus (here) is a Tampa legend that serves delicious authentic Mexican fare from the side of a bus. It has tons of vegetarian options and is open nearly 24/7 to satisfy cravings at all hours of the day. Recently the owners of the bus have expanded to St. Pete and more traditional restaurants (you know the ones with walls and floors) in Plant City and the University of South Florida area. The restaurants have been dubbed Tacqueria Monterrey #1 and #2.
My first experience with Tacqueria Monterrey #2 (the one by USF) was in December when I headed out for my birthday dinner. Our original destination was Trang Viet but when we arrived we found the doors locked and lights out (they no longer were open on Sundays). We moved a street over to Tacqueria Monterrey #2.
I was immediately impressed by the menu because there were a number of vegetarian options including vegan chorizo burritos (which I ordered). They were not quite as good as the tofu ones at taco bus but they weren’t far behind.
A few weeks ago we returned to Tacqueria Monterrey #2 (twice in the span of one weekend) and a lot had changed about the menu. No longer were chorizo burritos available. In fact, their vegetarian fare had been slashed a lot. It took me about ten minutes to find something I could eat. I went with rajas con queso which were roasted poblano peppers with corn kernels, queso fresco and cream. J-Fur chose the potato flautas.
As we waited for our orders we were treated to bottomless baskets of tortilla chips and fresh salsa. Tacqueria Monterrey #2 also features a salsa bar with ten or twelve different salsas that you can choose from. After tasting all these my overarching reaction was why? Why have ten or twelve tasteless salsas. If you aren’t going to make them worthwhile, don’t make them. The house made salsa that is placed on every table is a hundred times better than anything at the salsa bar.
It isn’t too strongly flavored with cilantro or spiciness which is nice because both J-Fur and I can eat it and enjoy (of course she has to pry it from my hands first). Our friend Hollie ordered a bowl of guacamole which was also very good and further illustrated why the salsa bar does not matter.
I filled up on chips and salsa (like I normally do) and had only enough room for half of my burrito. On first bite I realized that I had forgotten to ask for the burrito without cream. It isn’t that I can’t eat cream, I just am not particularly fond of it so I usually go without. When I returned the next day, I ordered the burrito without cream and the waitress gave me a hard time saying ‘We can’t do it without cream.’ Somehow, magically perhaps, the cook figured out how to make the burrito without cream. I wish he hadn’t as it was not very good. While I liked the burrito fine enough, I can’t completely get behind something that requires me to eat cream in order for it to be good. There is just something wrong with that in my opinion.
J-Fur’s Flautas (fried tortillas with potatoes in) were pretty good, though I haven’t yet been to a restaurant that can botch them because they are so basic. The flautas were doused in cheese and cream (which she also forgot to remove the first day) and surrounded by lettuce and tomato. They were served with a side of rice and beans.
Tacqueria Monterrey wasn’t anything special. When I heard that it was a relative of the Taco Bus, I expected much more than I got. I think I will continue to drive the extra twenty minutes to the original Taco Bus when I get my Mexican craving.
When I get my craving for 70’s style singalong rock peppered with roadhouse twang I turn to Natural Child and their single “Yer Birthday.” Perfect for a post that begins with a birthday meal.
I ate dinner with a group of friends a few years back to celebrate a wedding or birthday or something. At this dinner there was a guy and a girl who I had never met. The two weren’t dating but it was obvious that the guy wanted to get with her as all night long he was putting on a show. Unfortunately a lot of this performance seemed to involve me. He spoke to me with haughtiness, contradicted things I said and insulted me a number of times. Eventually the two of us had a showdown over table salt. He tossed his over his shoulder while declaring religious purity, I blew mine in his face fairy dust style. He and the girl left moments later.
When a songwriter sits down to pen a song they have something in mind, a sort of destiny for the song. Some are meant for the dance floor where glistening bodies and colored lights will move, sway and grind to the beats (think Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” or LCD Soundsystem’s “Drunk Girls”). Others reach for the airwaves so that people in cars and kids on school buses will sing along as they move from one place to the next (Anything by Katy Perry, Ke$ha, etc…). Then there are the songs that are destined to be so much more. These are the songs that were penned for revolution, for creating a social change or to lead a movement. That’s where Shannon Curtis’ song “Brightest Light in the Room” fits.
The song is, at its core, a love song. Something that anyone, who has ever walked into a room and saw that one person who stood out brighter than the rest, can relate to. But Shannon didn’t write it for just anyone. She had someone…well actually two people in mind when she wrote it. These two were young woman who, during the course of serving in the US Army, met and fell in love. For the next ten years they kept at their relationship despite multiple deployments to Iraq and all the heartache and hardships that come from loving someone who is at war. Eventually the two women decided to marry and one of them asked Shannon to write a song for the occasion. Thus “Brightest Light in the Room” was born. In just four and a half minutes Shannon creates a dual anthem, one that celebrates the demise of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy while offering a stepping stone for the next battle, allowing gay and lesbian Americans the right to marry.
“Brightest Light in the Room” is Shannon’s first single from her upcoming album which will be released on Saint Cloud Records.
To accompany her alternative-electro-downtempo-dream pop-social movement song Shannon cooks up a delicious Corn and Shrimp Soup that comes straight from the southern kitchen (she learned the recipe from a Louisiana man who knows a thing or two about southern cuisine).