taco bus / tampa, fl

Our flight landed in Tampa at about 10:30PM. Jake and I were still on West Coast time so we were still pretty awake despite the long plane ride across the country. Chris, our friend and host extraordinaire for the week, took us to the first pit spot of the entire trip. He took us native San Diegans to a Mexican restaurant! Chris said this was probably the best Mexican place in town and it’s a little different from anything we have here in San Diego. It’s called Taco Bus!


This school bus did have a kitchen in it, but they weren’t using it that evening. I suspect the use this one more during the lunch/dinner rush. Taco Bus is one of the places that Guy Fieri has visited on his show Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives. I do for reals watch this show on a regular basis but not because of Guy, but because I love seeing new foodie places from around the country! If you’re interested, you can catch the Taco Bus clip over on YouTube.


We ordered from the other bus which is white. You can’t really tell it’s a bus from this photo though, but it totally is!


This is the menu on the side, or you can check out the menu on the Taco Bus website.


Here’s Chris and Jake while we wait for our food. We had a long ass plane right, we needed some goods for the bellies!


This is Chris’s order of three carne asada tacos [$2.99 each]. At Taco Bus, if you get a taco fully dressed (as they are) they come with tomatoes, onions, shredded cabbage, marinated purple onion and cilantro. For an extra charge, you can add guacamole, jalapenos, sour cream, rice or beans. Basically all of the things we take for granted in burritos and tacos!

The carne asada here is nice and tender and well seasoned. Tacos come on flour tortillas (I don’t think they have corn as an offering).


Jake opted to go for the Torta sandwich with the combination plate [$8.99]. I didn’t care much for the rice or beans, but I usually don’t so that wasn’t a surprise to anyone.


Jake got carne asada for his filling. I adored the bread they used for the torta – it was light and fluffy with a nice crisp exterior and it held up well to the sheer amount of ingredients stuffed into it. I ended up liking Jake’s sandwich the best out of everything we have. Maybe I just wanted to eat that bread though… oh man. The flavors were really fresh and complimented the sandwich well (though I avoided those jalapenos like nobody’s business).


As for me, I opted to try a few different tacos at $2.99 a piece.


Jake and Chris both got carne asada so I wanted to try something else and went with the carnitas. The carnitas were very tender but there were no crispy bits (boo) like I’m used to. It was almost more like a slow-cooker carnitas since it was quite tender and soft. I was a little weirded out by no guacamole on my food (WHAT) and asked for it on this one. While I did like it, the carnitas wasn’t quite what I’m used to back here in San Diego. Jake thought it was really excellent though and I did still really like the flavor of it.


There were quite a few vegetarian options available, such as tofu, poblano peppers in sauce,  tempeh, vegan “steak” strips, rice/beans/veggies or butternut squash. I had never seen or heard of a butternut squash taco before so I HAD to try that. I got it with “everything” though I wish I had added avocado to this one instead of the carnitas taco. Luckily there was enough guacamole to pass it around into all of my tacos though.

The butternut squash is kept cubed giving it a little more texture. It’s quite soft and has that hint of sweetness from it. If I had bothered to read the description to see that red bell peppers were involved I wouldn’t have gotten this since I don’t like peppers, but I managed to pick most of those off. It’s … sort of akin to eating a potato taco, except much much sweeter. I wished there was an option for mushrooms or something instead, I think that would have given a better texture to the tacos.


My favorite of the three was definitely the shrimp – the shrimp were nice and plump and larger in size. No skimpy shrimp here, thank you! I did also like that they grill the tacos before they pile them up with the fillings which was a nice touch. I’d totally add the optional sour cream and guacamole though since that’s what I’m used to, but you could easily keep it as in and just use their housemade salsa/hot sauce to bring a little extra flavor to your meal (I forgot to photo the sauces!).

All in all an excellent start to our week long trip to Florida. I just wish I had more of that torta than my tacos though, but it was fun to try new things!

Taco Bus
913 East Hillsborough Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604

Sun-Wed: 11AM-4AM
Thus-Sat: 24 hours

Taco Bus on Urbanspoon

6 thoughts on “taco bus / tampa, fl

  1. Crispy bits are the ultimate best part of carnitas, I would have been disappointed too! Oh and a good way to turn slow cooker carnitas into crispy carnitas is to shred them, spread them over a baking sheet, spread the carnitas sauce/oil over everything, and them broil them in the oven for a couple minutes 🙂 Can’t find the recipe now but found it on Pinterest

    1. Hi J.S. – Yeah, I’m too used to crispy bits in my carnitas! Otherwise it just seems like uh, cooked pork to me. Not carnitas, haha. Nice tip! I made my own carnitas once a long long time ago, it’s probably about time I tried again.

  2. Did the white bus have a kitchen? Where did they cook your food?

    I stopped watching Guy’s show b/c, don’t laugh, it just had wayyyy too many commercials. But I dig how he hates eating pig ears (remember that episode?!).

    I’m not a fan of butternut squash so that taco woulda freaked me out. I think I’d rather have a tofu taco. Tofu taco. Jeez. That’s sounds so odd.

    What’s your take on flour vs corn tortilla. Like I prefer all my tacos on flour.

    Any suggestions on the best torta place here in SD?

    1. Hi Faye – Yes, the white bus was converted into a kitchen. That window next to the menu was the white bus and the kitchen is housed right in there and that’s where they cooked the food!

      I usually only watch the show when I’m spacing out, like before bed or to kill a little bit of time so I guess I never noticed the sheer amount of commercials? I don’t think I saw the pig ear episode! I know, the veggie tacos sound weird to me, too, but honestly I’m surprised we don’t have more “weird” tacos here. I guess we’re too close to the source!

      I like the mini street style tacos to be on corn tortillas, otherwise I like flour.

      For tortas, our favorite torta place is in Mission Gorge called Tropical Fruit Paradise (it’s also a smoothie shop): http://food.theplainjane.com/2012/11/30/tropical-fruit-paradise-mission-gorge-san-diego-ca/ We haven’t been in awhile but it’s about time for a revisit!

  3. Wut, no guac on your tacos? Sacrilege! 🙂 Everything looked good except for the butternut squash one. That shrimp especially looked quite delectable! Jake’s shirt was cool too (Cuban shirt!)!

    1. Hi CC – Geez, I know. Guacamole is extra?! Jake’s mom got him that shirt because she thought it looked very “Miami-ish” which I agreed with!

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