Tonite we are taking a look at one of a bevy of new taco places in Murfreesboro…Taco Garage.
First Impression: Small, clean, and playing 70’s rock. Not a bad first impression. You are immediately funneled into an ordering area that is essentially a long school desk. Pads of order forms line a bar with wooden pencils and old school sharpeners. The idea is that you mark your items and the toppings you want on them to turn in at the counter.
What I like about this: I don’t have to explain my custom order to a counter person.
What I don’t like about this: prices aren’t on the order pad except for a notation that tells you toppings are $.25 each. All other prices are on a separate board across the room and slightly behind you above the counter. Let me explain why I don’t like this.
A lot of people I know have said they think this place is very expensive. Tacos have a base price of $2-3. Throw a few topping on it and its not too pricey. $3-4 and they are decent size tacos. If you do a “heck, I’ll just throw all the fixin’s on it!” approach, you’ll wind up with $5-7 tacos. (2oz of Guac is + $1, Sour cream + $.50) Where the real price gouge comes in is the sides. Chips and queso is $5, Garage Fries (chilli cheese fries) are $6 and the portions are not very big. So, freestyling on the toppings and a couple of sides will jack up the bill pretty quick, and its not lost on me that they have you facing away from the prices to fill out your order.
Atmosphere: Honestly, the decor and character of the place is kind of the current trendy industrial look you find in Chipotle or any of a dozen other strip mall/plaza eateries. Its not bad, but I feel like an opportunity lost. The chairs are all metal, and a bit narrow for my plus size sexiness. Nice enough, but nothing stands out. I didn’t even notice the bar area till the GM pointed it out to me. Music was the volume I like: I can hear it easily while I am eating or sitting, but not so loud I can’t carry on a conversation.
Food: I felt like the food was tasty, if a bit on the bland side. The topping on the tacos were fresh and crisp, and the portions of meat were ample enough. Tortillas were not stale. The “Garage Fries had a great flavor, due in part to the taco seasoning they sprinkled on them. The portion was disappointing for the price and the fries were frozen crinkle-cut fries. Fresh cut fries would have been a nice touch and justified the price a bit more to me.
Service: This was probably their strongest suite. We were greeted at the door by a young lady with a positive smile. She explained the ordering process to us (not sure having to explain ordering is a plus, but not that big a deal) and made sure we didn’t have any questions. Counter person was attentive and made sure to call me by name, which is written on the order form. The GM was active, and helped bus tables and made tab le visits to see if people were having a good experience. He was a strong enough presence that I picked him out as an owner/manager without asking him or looking for a tag. He was dressed much like the employees. Other employees moved about wiping tables, attending the drink area (self-serve fountain), and sweeping the floor.
Cleanliness: This place was clean, and I can’t emphasize enough how big an impact that makes not only on me, but on the public in general. Well done.
Final thoughts: This place can be as cheap (My wife’s veggie tacos cost about $1.50 each) or as expensive as you make it, depending on how you order and whether or not you get beer or margaritas. Its good food in a clean place. I will go occasionally, but I doubt I will ever go out of my way to go there. I’ll drop in if I am in the area and its convenient. Its good but doesn’t compete heavily against the other tacos places in the same proximity. The place has a no frills theme, with food served in cardboard trays and sour cream comes in packets.
3 out of 5 peace signs. Worth visiting every so often.
“Make lunch not war”!