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Can You See The Real Me?

Turco Taco

410 Tamiami Trail Naples, FL

Authenticity is overrated. It's not unnecessary but it's overrated. Rachel Brosnahan is a terrific actress playing a wonderful Jewish character in Midge Maisel and I can't imagine any other actor playing this character. Is it authentic because she's not Jewish?? Maybe not. Is it enjoyable and entertains me for an hour or two at a time? Yes. Jews have been playing non-Jewish characters since the dawn of filmed media, so there's no reason it shouldn't go in reverse. This is also FAR less problematic than making a Caucasian Asian or any other race-switching and has less to do with cultural authenticity than inclusion and diversity and right and wrong.

The same can be said for food. Far too often people say things like "I know more than you about pizza because I'm anm Italian from New York" or "I know all there is to know about poutine because I'm from Montreal" and that's fine and well but just because you are from somewhere doesn't make you an expert. There's a pizza joint in Naples that shall remain nameless but makes possibly the WORST pizza and chicken parm sub I have had in my entire life. The cheese is barely melted and the chicken tastes like a deep fried ream of paper. Hell, I know plenty of terrific musicians who have (in my opinion) awful taste in music. Unless you are dressing your fat, middle age white servers in kitenges or or kimonos, I have zero care whether you make pizza and are a Native American or if you make terrific sushi with the last name Finkelstein. The only reason I would care is if your last name IS Finkelstein and you're claim to make culturally authentic sushi or soul food (ed note, yes it is possible that there are Asian or African-American people with the last name Finkelstein, but it's not very likely and it's a funny last name, so relax). Now, on the flip side there's nothing wrong with a little cultural fusion and bringing in different elements as long as you are respectful of the source material. Without it the world wouldn't have great things like the short rib taco, The Beastie Boys or Derek Jeter. At the end of the day, good is good, so relax.

This brings me to Turco Taco.

A lot of self-proclaimed foodies (I despise when people call themselves foodies. It's like saying "I'm cool" or "I'm superior". Leave the plaudits to other people. For the record, I only ever use that word on hashtags because it gets me more hits. Marketing is marketing) decry Turco as inauthentic Mexican and therefore it must be bad. First and foremost, they are not TRYING To be authentic. They literally talk about their heritage in the name of the restaurant (one of the owners is Turkish) and there's a giant sign in the place talking about how the al pastor taco has roots when Middle Eastern immigrants brought their spit style of cooking to Mexico), so chill your pantalones, people, and enjoy what I happen to think is one of the two best taco joints in town.

It's worth noting that this is my daughter Boogs's favorite restaurant and basically her favorite place to eat outside her mom's or my kitchen counter so I've been here more than a few times and there are a LOT worse places she could enjoy.

The building itself is that old style A-frame that use to house Naples' Dairy Queen (I really wish more fast food joints would go back to being shaped like weird things. Hot dog shape kiosks, or banana shaped ice cream stands are sadly lacking in our current world.). It has a terrific wrap-around patio that is perfectly pleasant to enjoy your meaty inauthentic goodness.

Boogs always gets the same thing and she loves it, grilled chicken with cheese on a hard shell (oh no...hard shell isn't authentic..shush) and the Mexican street corn. I love that they make this custom for her since she doesn't like spicy (translation: flavor). The street corn is creamy but not too creamy, with a nice blast of corn sweetness hitting the queso fresco and light savory chili flavor. Good stuff .

As for me, unless my conscience hits me and I get their Quinoa salad, which is EXCELLENT (for you health conscious people, who I have no clue why you're going to a taco joint in the first place, they have three or four unique salads that are among the best casual salads in town), I usually eat the remainder of her street corn and get three tacos. The hard shell Chicken Tinga is really really terrific. Normally I steer clear of a chicken taco, but this one is special. Highly shredded chicken with pickled red onions, cilantro topped with queso fresco.

It has a fantastic crunch to it and the pickled onions give it a lovely tang (the flavor concept, not the astronaut's drink or the 9th century Chinese Empire).

Next up in my taco true is the al pastor, what Turco's claims to be the Middle Eastern/Mexican hybrid. It's stewed and heavily seasoned pork topped with more of those red onions and a little bit of cilantro. This is probably my least favorite of the three, but still very worthwhile, I just don't quite think the pork reaches the level of the other two as far as seasoning matching the topping.

Finally, and what I think is the true star, is their carne asada taco. This is where the fusion really kicks into high gear. At first blush, it's a standard carne asada taco, and then you bite into it. It's really delicious, but something is different...then you realize, the carne asada isn't as traditional as you are used to. It's like asada spices but with a hint of middle eastern spit cooking. Think of it as if your taco took a left at gyroland and ended up smack dab in the middle of a shawarma parade. It's probably the best specific taco flavor in Southwest Florida. Again, it's not specifically authentic but who the heck cares, delicious is delicious. In this case deliciousness is united by two completely different cultures and I'm very much here for it.

Tacocat Approves

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