Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
It’s sometimes hard to know what came first: the party or the taco? These celebrations seek answers stuffed between corn shells and kickass music.
A good argument can be made that Southern California taco festivals are the best in the world. Not just because the gourmet taco truck scene started here (even though it did). Not because it is the region that originated taco cart catering. Why then? Because the combination of craft beers and tequilas, and a fiercely competitive field of taco vendors, have fostered a lofty plane for taco gourmands. Taco festivals in this region are professional affairs.
The season begins in March and lasts at least until September. Here are some of the bigger events that bring tacos and taco lovers together (all dates in 20127):
Morongo Taco Festival (March 25) – $10 tickets and $2 tacos made this one of the more affordable events, held at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon. Not to be missed: the Chihuahua beauty pageant.
Tacos & Beer 5K Run (San Diego April 30 and Long Beach May 6) – A multi-city event, the first two were held in San Diego and Long Beach while organizers are working on creating additional events in Los Angeles and Ventura. Why NOT earn your tacos and craft brews with a 5K run, tug-o-war team contest, piñata breaking party, and el grito competition?
Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival (April 8) – Featured bands were The Offspring, Sum 41, Rival Sons, Lit, Unwritten Law and Metalachi. Held at Dana Point’s Doheny State Beach, gourmet tacos were priced at $3 each.
2017 Wild & Crazy Taco Night (April 20) – This fundraiser for Share Our Selves raised $100,000 for the organization’s food pantry, and included a VIP event as well as chefs from taco catering firms and restaurants who served the likes of cheese curd tacos, ice smoked fish tacos, slow braised beef tongue tacos, pineapple pork vindaloo with cilantro tacos, and a El Heroé taco.
San Diego Taco Fest (May 20) – This sold-out event at Waterfront Park featured Vanilla Ice, Mix Master Mike, and Lucha Libre Wrestling. Taco caterers included Gringa’s, Salud, Senor Grubby’s and City Tacos/North Park Taqueria.
Long Beach Craft Beer & Taco Festival (May 27) – Sold out in 2017, look for its return in 2018. Held at Shoreline Park/Light House, it featured $2 tacos and unlimited beer tastings for a portion of the event
Tacolandia (June 17) – With more than 120 taco vendors from Los Angeles, Mexico and elsewhere, this is a taco lover salsa dream. Sure, there’s a bar, masked wrestling, and comedic burlesque (“Lucha VaVoom”), but for a $50 general admission ticket Tacolandeneas can basically eat nothing but tacos for four hours straight.
Tequila & Taco Music Festival (Ventura July 22-23 and Santa Cruz August 26-27) – Bands that include Metalachi, SambaDa and Selena-tribute Adelaide round out this tequila and margarita bar extravaganza featuring gourmet tacos from Burt’s Garlic Fries and Chicken Fingers, Busy Bee Café, 3941 Tamales, Garcia’s Fish Tacos, Rice Balls of Fire, and Sophia’s Kitchen.
L.A. Taco Festival (August 26) – Benefitting Jovenes Inc., a youth housing non-profit, the music lineup and vendors are still in formation for 2017 but the event was chosen as the #1 West Coast Festival in 2016 by Everfest. Admission is free.
Tacotopia at the Track (September 3) – Held at the DelMar Thoroughbred Club, attendees are told they can “eat your weight in tacos,” which sounds technically challenging but not for lack of San Diego mobile taco catering vendors (there are 23 slated for this event, all competing for a best-in-show prize).
The astute festival attendee will always ask questions about “what’s in this?” to the taco vendor. That’s because the party needn’t end when the festival is over. Making tacos at home is fun for all concerned, as are taco-themed family and corporate events.