By Jennifer Kornegay
What tops your “must eat” list when you’re visiting Alabama’s beaches? Steamed shrimp? Blackened snapper? Briny fried oysters? Whatever it is, surely it’s some form of seafood. Why travel to the coast and not fill up on the bounty that Alabama’s hard-working fishermen are continually harvesting from the Gulf’s fertile waters?
Because Bravo Tacos exists. Because they make ahh-mazing tacos, burritos and nachos that rival those found in Tex-Mex hot spots like Austin, Texas. (Yep. I wrote that.) Because you can never have enough cheese dip, especially when it’s acting as a hot tub for spicy, smoky, crisped chorizo. Because salsa is fat-free, and you may be squeezing your way into a bathing suit in the very near future. Oh, but wait. That darn cheese dip. Forget the fat-free argument. You simply have to go to Bravo Taco to eat while at the beach because…because I said so!
Right around the corner from the entrance to the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail (another lesser-known treasure of the coast), Bravo Tacos occupies one corner of a strip mall across from a gas station and behind a McDonald’s at the corner of Canal Road. If you’ve ever been to Cosmo’s (just a little ways down Canal Road), and I hope you have, you’ve driven past Bravo Tacos.
Do not drive past it this trip. Stop in, secure a spot at one of only a few outdoor tables if you can, and then peruse the neon-yellow paper menu to see what speaks to you. Unless you’re taste-deaf, I feel sure the queso fundido will be screaming your name. Take heed and order a cup of the molten smoked gouda and jack in which chorizo sausage and caramelized onions are drowning. Add a scoop of house-made guacamole, and you could easily make a meal out of chips and dips alone.
But don’t. Because then you’d miss the tacos. The pork carnitas tacos. The chicken tacos. The steak tacos. The “gringo” tacos. The chorizo tacos. (Yes! A sausage taco!) And if you can’t, in good conscience, not order something that swims, go for the shrimp or fish tacos, both fine choices. Oh, and there’s a veggie taco too. You can even have a taco “your way.” Create your personal combination of meat and toppings including one of seven salsas ranging from the pleasantly piquant Tomatillo Avocado to the burning madness of Gila Sauce (which might make you cry) that are all made from scratch using local produce.
It’s the same with everything at Bravo Tacos. A commitment to in-season, locally sourced ingredients drives this eatery, as does the idea of “good things come to those who wait.” Despite counter-service and a drive-thru, Bravo Tacos emphasizes that it is not fast food. Everything is made to order, and that means toasty, but never soggy, tortillas and hot things (meats) staying hot, while cool things (lettuce, cheese, etc.) are still cool.
And speaking of cool, you must try a liquado, an impossibly refreshing beverage made fresh daily from a variety of fruits. Seriously, do not leave without one. And while you’re at it, grab a tub of guacamole to take with you. You can dip some steamed shrimp in it later.
Get yourself some grub that deserves a standing ovation (and an encore).
4575 Orange Beach Blvd.
Orange Beach, AL