By Libby Hopkins
Do you remember when you were a kid waiting for the school bus on the first day of school? You had butterflies in your stomach while you were waiting for that big orange and black school bus to finally arrive and take you to your first day of school. Well, a lot of us in the Brandon community have had those same old feelings lately, only it’s not anxiety about the first day of school. No, our anxiety is over the opening of new restaurant…The Taco Bus.
The restaurant has generated a huge following since the original Taco Bus opened in Seminole Heights more than 20 years ago. It has locations in St. Petersburg, North Tampa (USF area) and downtown Tampa. The restaurant has been featured on The Food Network’s “Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives,” The Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food Nation,” and The Cooking Channel’s “Eat Street.” The restaurant will be opening very soon and Chef Rene Valenzuela is thrilled that his restaurant is becoming a part of the Brandon community. “Brandon has a very vibrant community and every time we bring our Taco Bus food truck to a food truck rally or event, people are very happy,” Valenzuela said, “Many of our customers in current locations are from Brandon and are always asking us in person or emails, when are we opening in Brandon.”
The iconic school bus is already parked at Falkenburg Rd., just north of S.R. 60 and Valenzuela and his staff are working hard to get the restaurant ready to serve the community. “This is a very cool location, we are converting part of an old concrete plant and this one is the biggest location so far with 84 indoor seats and 40 outside patio seats,” Valenzuela said. The restaurant will offer traditional recipes prepared daily with fresh ingredients. They will serve lunch and dinner at the new location. Their menu offers a variety of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free selections. The restaurant will also debut a new line of tamalitos at the Brandon location.
“We have a new line of tamalitos, smaller tamales than our traditional huge tamales,” Valenzuela said, “Two meat tamales, shredded pork in an ancho pepper sauce and shredded chicken in a green tomatillo sauce.” There will also be other new items on the menu at the Brandon location such as vegetarian rajas con queso and spicy tamales with roasted jalapeno strips to name a few. Valenzuela said the Taco Bus will be open 24 hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you can’t wait for the Brandon location to open, you can go to one of the other Taco Bus locations to try some of the wonderful food Valenzuela has to offer. For more information on the Taco Bus, you can visit them on the web at www.taco-bus.com.