Taco Town, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Taco Town 2

This is the best cheap taco shop we’ve been to so far.

I first discovered the glory that is Taco Town back in 2006 when I was a college student spending the summer completing a journalism internship on Florida’s Gulf Coast. I couldn’t spend a lot of money but, as my mom told me many times in my early 20s while I was figuring out the world and budgeting, I had to feed myself.

Less than a mile from the office where I worked was a little taco shop that seemed to have a full parking lot every day at lunch. So, I stopped in one day, surveyed the menu and put together a lunch of a couple tacos, chips and salsa, and a jumbo sweet tea for about $5. Just what I needed! I was hooked and went back many, many times that summer.

My mom didn’t like the sound of me frequenting a Florida taco shop far from home that offered such cheap food. We were never very adventurous eaters growing up. If it wasn’t American food, we didn’t usually touch it. But she didn’t know how clean and how good these tacos were. Actually, they tasted much like what we’d eat on taco nights at home back then. Beef, cheese, veggies, shells. Repeat.

Taco Town 1

Then and now, as I just introduced my wife to the restaurant during a vacation to the area, Taco Town speaks my love language: good, simple food for very little money. The restaurant, which operates in Fort Walton Beach and several other locations within about an hour of each other, actually promotes itself as a place with no music and a horrible view. You don’t come to Taco Town for trendiness or a fancy meal. You come to get fed well on a dime.

On Mondays, Taco Town offers 60-cent crunchy beef tacos, one of their daily specials throughout each week. That’s always been one of my go-to menu items at basic taco shops because it’s usually one of the cheapest. Unless the tacos or burritos or enchiladas (of which Taco Town also serves, as well as many other menu items you’d expect to find) are fancy, I’m probably going to gravitate toward the cheapest items on the menu. The shells at Taco Town have always been crunchy, the beef seasoned and simple, and the lettuce and tomato fresh. So, I go with the basic tacos every time I’m there.

As I said above, Taco Town serves up the kind of Mexican food you eat during a taco night at home. To be honest, most places that offer food I feel like I can make myself aren’t quite my type of joints. But this taqueria came into my life at a time when I was far from home and needed simple meals for cheap for dining solo. Like so many places for so many foodies, Taco Town has good food and always offers friendly service, but most of all it’s about the memories for me. That’s what great restaurants of any style and price level do for us as diners: They connect with our hearts and minds in a way that draws us back.

Taco Town 3
Taco Town’s Beef Enchilada

If you’re traveling across Florida’s panhandle, perhaps between cities like Tallahassee, Panama City, Destin and Pensacola, keep Taco Town in mind. It’s not one of the flashier taco shops among our favorites. But it is exactly what the owners bill it as: good, cheap food. Those are the kinds of places we always need in this world, for feeding single people, families and hard-working people on budgets. And you see plenty of all of those types of diners each time you walk into a Taco Town.

Taco Town, 303 Racetrack Road NE, Fort Walton Beach, Florida (and other area locations)

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