Here at ginandtacos.com we receive several dozen emails each week centered around a certain topic, of which the following is an example:
Being a fan of drinking, gin, and tacos I am drawn to your webpage. Your gin reviews, guide for being a good bar partron, and drinking games are all wonderful and show you are worthy of 'gin' in your domain name – but what about 'tacos'? I've been all over your page and their [sic] is not a lot of impressive material about mexican food. Are you really a fan?
Baco Raton Fl.
*sigh* This is something we worry about: how to best show our appreciation of all things tacos. We held the Ginaissance, which gave our webpage a lot of new taco related material. Yet the public questions our dedication. This is odd, as if you were ever around us you would know that our love for steak wrapped in a flour or corn shell is second-to-none. Last weekend I flew into Berkeley, California. Here are two random stories, highlighting the love our page has for all things tacos.
Burrito #1 – Midway Airport Chicago, September 23rd, 7:23pm (Flight Boarding Ends 7:25pm)
I was running late to the airport. It was the late where you enter the airport, pre-ticket and security, and see a "Now Boarding" for your flight. I was starving and had to use the bathroom. Worse, it was a four hour flight on Southwest Airlines, an airline that saves you money (god bless them, everyone) by not serving any food. For other reasons, I would not be able to eat once I landed in Ca., so I raced. I got my ticket and swept through security in record time, and had about 2 minutes left for boarding when I arrived at my gate.
Luckily there was a burrito stand right across from the departing gate with no line and a bathroom right next to it. I quickly purchased a large carne asada burrito. But I still had to use the bathroom, and the clock was ticking. I feared I wasn't going to get another chance to go until we were in the air, and in the adrenaline rush of running through the airport my brain didn't realize that I could probably have taken food on the plane with me. A choice had to be made – and if you can't tell what I did you probably don't belong at this webpage.
Now there are not many places in the world where a man can eat a large carne asada burrito in one hand while standing and urinating into a urinal with the other hand, but Midway Airport, on Chicago's southside, is one of them. And I was that man. The people standing next to me didn't blink. I like to think they viewed me as a spiritual brother-in-arms. Some of them may have thought "now why didn't I think of that?" It was a good burrito (Rating 7/10), and I got on the plane just in time.
Two things: (1) I'd like to get a comments poll going as to where that action lands on a continuum between 'hardcore' and 'horrendous' and (2) though I very much liked all the people I met and places I visited in Berkeley, I never really felt that if I was to immediately start eating a very large steak-filled burrito while urinating at the same time I would be treated as a brother-in-arms by the people around me.
Burrito #2 – San Francisco, Mission Area, September 25th, 2:15am (Bar Time 2:00am)
Someone in our group threw out the idea of us all getting mexican food after the bar we were at kicked us out. Naturally I agreed, and we all walked to a nearby taco stand.
Now I realized I might have been in a little over my head, seeing as I was in a part of town that I took to be some sort of weird combination of hipster and hippie hangout (if anyone can explain the Mission part of SF, particularly around 24th, please do so in the comments). But then I thought: I've been to the always dependable La Bamba's in Champaign past bar time, where all the guys who didn't hook up pour out of the frat bars wanting to cause a scene. I've also eaten tacos in Wrigleyville, both after bar time (see Champaign) and accidently around the time of a Cubs game, where it's even worse. I thought I could handle this.
I was wrong. The line was crowded and folded into itself twice, so I was surrounded on all sides by people. And by people, I mean the most bizarre mix of hippie-hipster I had ever seen. White men with dreadlocks and converse shoes. Then there were the straight-up hippies, wearing things that looked like woven rugs for clothing and sporting even longer dreadlocks. There was a group of transexuals – or to be more accurate, short body-building men with dresses and breasts. Then there were even more hippies smelling even worse. The awful smell of patchouli, BO, and disreputableness was blocking out the sweet nourishing smell of cumin. I was ready to bail and say "No burrito is worth being around these many hippies!"
Then I thought of you, our readers. And that I couldn't look any of you in the eye if I had run. So I stayed. Rating: 5.5/10. The shell wasn't cooked right, and the grease was causing it all to dissolve. The meat was bad, unspiced and spongy, even with the credit I'm willing to give the place serving to drunk people in the middle of the night. They did give free chips, but they didn't have a three taco deal (and their menu was unclear on their two-taco meal).
So question what you will, but never question our dedication to tacos. Ever.