I vividly remember it like it was yesterday. An entire Saturday during my childhood spent doing manual labor in our large yard in Eugene, Oregon. We did everything from pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, raking leaves from the five apple and two pear trees, tending the garden and trimming the hedges. All that hard work for the small reward of eating dinner at the fast food chain Taco Time. My parents were (and still are!) smart people; have us help out and work hard all day in the yard with the measly bribe of what amounts to one small burrito.
But, I fell for it every time. I guess as a kid, you will do *almost* anything to get to eat out. Understand that having dinner out was ALWAYS a treat for me. Growing up I wanted anything but Gujarati (Indian) food for dinner which we had pretty much every day. I can only now appreciate all the hard work my mom put in to busting out a multiple course, healthy, Gujarati dinner from scratch every night of the week for us.
When I was 13, my family and I moved from Oregon to Wisconsin and it wasn’t until I had returned to visit my best friend Sonia in Seattle years later that I realized I had missed the treasure of the Pacific Northwest, Taco Time. It was funny how one bite of that amazing crisp bean burrito brought me back to my childhood. And that damn yard.
The crisp bean burrito is a large, soft flour tortilla filled with seasoned pinto beans and cheddar cheese. It is rolled up and deep-fried to a golden crisp, so in a way, it is almost like a chimichanga. What is so great about this particular burrito is how it is perfectly crispy and flaky on the outside, but soft and gooey on the inside (especially with the yummy melted cheese). It comes with a tasty hot sauce side dip that is a must have.
I’m not sure if back in the early 80’s they had the ranch dip or if my parents didn’t want me growing up on a diet of fried burritos and ranch dressing, but I totally commend (and blame) Sonia for introducing me to the delectable dip. The crisp bean burrito experience has taken on a whole new dimension. The new trick is to dip the burrito a little in the hot sauce and a little in the ranch and then take a bite. Yum!
Round out this culinary adventure with the must have Mexi-Fries (Mexican seasoned tater tots, or as Taco Time describes it; delicious, bite-sized potato gems) and you are good to go. I find myself doing the same dipping patterns with the Mexi-fries, a little hot sauce and a little ranch. Make sure you get extra of both sauces cause it would be a travesty to have this dining experience without both of them.
Aaaggghhhh, why is Seattle so far away? Or maybe the better question is: How can I franchise Taco Time in Chicago???