Taco Tuesday is ubiquitous, but did you ever wonder about its origins? Other than the alliterative nature of the phrase, why is it Taco Tuesdays and not Wednesday or Mondays? Taco Tuesday is almost as common as Happy Hour and varies as much in its offerings. Well, it turns out that “Taco Tuesday” is a hotly debated commodity.
Taco John’s, a Wyoming-based fast food chain trademarked “Taco Tuesday” in 2009, which it had been using for about a year. In 2010, Taco John’s asserted its trademark, threatening a small taco chain in Oklahoma that was using the term. For a while the chain fought any use of the term, except against New Jersey’s Gregory’s Hotel in Somers Point which also held a trademark, that was limited to New Jersey. To confuse things further, the web address tacotuesday.com is actually owned by a different restaurant, Tortilla Flats, based in California. Taco John’s eventually realized that enforcing the trademark was giving them more bad press than what it was worth and allowed other companies and restaurants full use of the term. It turns out that “Taco Tuesdays” was in use long before Taco John’s trademarked it. In the early 1980s, David Olsen advertised the event for his Minnesota restaurant, but called it “Taco Twosday” and offered two-for-one tacos.
The earliest documented use of the term has been found in an advertisement for a Tuesday taco special in the Oct. 16, 1933, edition of the El Paso Herald-Post. The White Star Cafeteria at the city’s St. Regis advertised that it sold three "Mexican Tacos" for 15¢ on Tuesday. The Zia Lounge in Albuquerque gave away free tacos on Tuesday in early 1949. Oliver’s in Green Bay, Wisconsin offered free coffee with every purchase on Tuesday at around the same time. In Minneapolis, the unfortunately named La Cucaracha, offered tacos as its “Tuesday special” in April 1965. The Rapid City Journal in South Dakota ran an ad for the Snow White Drive-In reading, “Stop in on Taco Tuesday.” Finally, Baker's Drive-Thru, which still operates in California, advertised a taco special on Tuesday as early as 1967. Its campaign included the following, “Why are Tuesdays special? They're Taco Tuesdays at Baker's.” They still advertise Taco Tuesday to this day.
817 East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Among some of the local places offering Taco Tuesday specials is one of Fort Lauderdale’s newest spots on Las Olas. El Camino manages to look as if it’s been there forever and the menu is quite reasonably priced. We stopped in on Taco Tuesday, when all tacos are $2 each. When you order the dinner, the platters of three tacos are served with Mexican rice and a choice of pinto beans, smoky black beans or refried beans. On Taco Tuesdays the tacos are served a la carte, but rice and beans are available as sides and are portioned big enough for 2-3 to share for $4 each. This saves you a couple of bucks for a platter of three and shared sides.
I was more interested in the star attraction and ordered five tacos a la carte. The meal, which cost only $10, was almost more than I could finish. Crispy fried fish got a nice kick from tomatillo salsa and chipotle mayo and a pleasing crunch from shaved cabbage. The Gulf shrimp were a tad small, but perfectly cooked and topped with salsa, charred tomatoes and guacamole. The spicy chicken lives up to its name with an achiote rub, arbol chiles and scallions, which are tempered by a healthy portion of cotija cheese. Barbacoa highlights meaty chunks of brisket with cilantro and queso fresco, while the carne asada pairs slices of steak with ranchero sauce and sweet corn. With the exception of the fish, all were served on corn tortillas. A large basket of chips and two kinds of salsa were more than worth the $3 charge and easily served four of us.
Other taco options include; roasted cauliflower with pickled red onions, ground beef with co-jack, the all-cheese queso fundido, ancho chile-glazed pork belly with pineapple salsa and spiced peanuts, or choprizo with Oaxaca cheese and salsa verde. For those wanting to try something other than tacos, there are fajitas, burritos and enchiladas, as well as tamales and quesadillas. A full bar offers Mexican and American cocktails as well as imported and domestic beers and wine.
Here are some other local places offering Taco Tuesday specials.
Tatts & Tacos Beer Garden
3200 NE 12th Ave., Oakland Park
Taco Tuesday Special: $12.95 all-you-can-eat tacos, $15 Margarita pitchers and $3 beer specials.
Agave Taco Bar
2949 N Federal, Fort Lauderdale
Taco Tuesday Special: $12.99 for unlimited tacos or single tacos for $2.95 each, $9 agave Margaritas and $2 off tequila shots.
Quvo Tacos & Craft Beer
4354 N Federal, Fort Lauderdale
Taco Tuesday Special: $10 for 3 Tacos and a draft beer! $7 for any 3 tacos.