By Strawberry Jam
Despite reading a majority of negative Yelp reviews complaining of the new Taco Beach Shack in Hollywood, their website’s mouthwatering descriptions are enough to warrant a trip for any decent taco-enthusiast. Almost all of the complaints dealt with the joint’s slow service but we figure that’s not that bad and what better time to risk it than Taco Tuesday? Well, we soon learned that “Taco Tuesday” was in fact limited to only chicken or beef tacos, subjecting us to the not-so-shack-like prices on the rest of the menu. We mulled over the menu for a while at the bar and waited for a table to open up. There seemed to be no seating or serving arrangements and after finally sitting about 15 minutes, our waiter hurriedly greeted us “So sorry. I promise not to ignore you guys anymore. Pllllease make it quick.” A sign of the night to come, perhaps.
We placed our order: one chicken taco, one beef taco, and a baja fish taco combo platter. Almost 40 minutes went by until our server came and apologized for the wait, offering some chips and guac on the house (normally $4 for a basket and small 4 ounce cup of the green stuff). The guacamole tasted light and fresh and seemed like an appropriately nice gesture by a new restaurant. In all fairness, there was a somewhat large party that ordered before us (5 or 6 people) but it seemed very much like two servers and one cook were taking care of the whole place, which was actually almost completely full.
While we waited we observed the decor of Taco Beach Shack. Is it a taco shack? Is it striving to be a swanky outdoor restaurant on South Beach? Alas, it is both. A shack built upon a luxurious blanket of white sand, with neon signs and expensive-looking wicker furniture, ping pong tables and white drapes. Oh and of course a fire pit.
Luckily, the food was pretty darn tasty. After overhearing someone griping about the fish tacos being scantily stuffed, I decided to stick to my plan and order them anyway. Thankfully so because the fish was nice- delicately seasoned and wrapped in a corn tortilla with an interesting creamy cilantro sauce, shredded cabbage, tomato, and onion. The rice and beans sides were standard- think Zona Fresca- but the corn with its “Mexican-spiced parmesan cheese” was awesome. Other unique flavors on the menu include Korean short rib and kimchi slaw tacos, mushroom tacos, and briskets.
Per Mig: “The ground beef and chicken tacos surpassed my expectations and fully satisfied my taste buds — much better than some extremely average taco joints (ahem, T-Mex). Both meats were flavorful, but if I had to choose one, I give the slight edge to the chicken. When I asked for the hottest hot sauce from the bar, the owner was eager to impress me with his homemade 911 sauce. Although the sauce was tasty and further enhanced the taco eating experience, it wasn’t as spicy as his tone implied (“you want it REAL hot?”, “be careful with this”). The same can be said of the chili paste they dropped at our table — about equal intensity as the hottest sauce in the Publix ethnic aisle and miles away from Tijuana Flats’ right-side-of-the-sauce-bar sauces. Still, I enjoy when the staff takes pride in their creations and felt a little bad when I told them it could be a tad bit spicier.”
Aside from slow service, anticipate that you might be circling for a while looking to find a metered parking spot, and you can probably expect to swat some bugs during dinner (especially by the bar area; none were in our food). However, the food was great and the owner let us know he appreciated our business when we were paying the bill. Taco Beach Shack has some definitely potential, let’s just hope it can work its kinks out in time.
Taco Beach Shack is located in Hollywood on 334 Arizona street, just East of A1A.