clevelanders officially have gone loco for taco tuesday

To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld: "Taco Tuesdays -- what's up with that?"

Seems that all across this great city, barflies are bellying up to the counter for bottomless plates of dirt-cheap tacos. The rationale behind the trend is simple enough -- offer deeply discounted tacos to hungry diners in hopes of upping business on a traditionally slow weeknight.

While the origins of this fad are fuzzy (the actual phrase is trademarked by a 50-year-old Laguna Beach restaurant), the effects are plainly seen, with literally dozens of local bars and restaurants getting in on the south-of-the-border act. Some fans try new spots weekly, while others hit more than a handful in a single night, devising a taco-themed cantina crawl.

Soft or crunchy, beef or pork, gourmet or fast-food… Cleveland tacos run the gamut. Here are some fan faves.

Deagan's Kitchen
14810 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216/767-5775

The Joint: Opened in late September, Deagan's is a welcome addition to the Taco Tuesday circuit. Exposed brick, sturdy steel beams and reclaimed barn siding combine to give this pub a polished look. An outstanding craft beer selection doesn't hurt either.

The Deal: Taco choices change weekly, but diners can always rely on a killer rendition of spicy shrimp. A recent Tuesday featured Ahi tuna, adobo-braised beef, and at least one vegan version, all presented in soft flour tortillas.

The Fine Print: Taco deals run from 5 to 10 p.m., with prices ranging from $2 to $3 per soft taco.

Insider's Tip: Aficionados know to hit the tavern between 5 and 7 p.m. when Happy Hour overlaps with Taco Tuesday, creating a sweet spot when all drinks are $1 off.

Euclid Tavern
11625 Euclid Ave., University Circle, 216/231-7066

The Joint: This venerable rock club near the Case campus dates back to the 60's, hosting a "who's who" of local and national rockers. A major overhaul of the space netted cleaner digs and slightly more ambitious food. Expect a crowd that includes college students, professors and music fans of all stripes.

The Deal: "We keep it old school", a server explained. True to his word, the kitchen turns out reliably tasty crispy corn tacos stuffed with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, cheese and sour cream for just $0.75 apiece. A side of salsa will set you back an additional two bits.

The Fine Print: Taco Tuesday runs clear until "last call." Drink specials range from 22-ounce craft beers for $4 to PBRs for $1.75.

Insider's Tip: Cheap tacos start flying out of the kitchen at 11 a.m., so there's no reason to wait until Happy Hour.

Johnny Mango
3120 Bridge Ave., Ohio City, 216/575-1919

The Joint: A  "world café" with a vegetarian-friendly menu, this bright and bustling Ohio City bar and eatery offers West Coast-style smoothies, meaty burritos, and zesty stir-fries. Not far behind are ice-cold beers, creative mojitos and decent margaritas.

The Deal: Basic and petite seasoned ground beef or bean tacos come crispy and fresh, bundled up in a flour tortilla for just a buck apiece. Another $0.95 will get you a plump scoop of sour cream and guacamole on the side.

The Fine Print: Taco Tuesday runs from 4 to 10 p.m. Happy Hour, when beer and wine are half-priced and cocktails are $2 off, runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Insider's Tip: Skip the $4 diluted margaritas during Happy Hour. The real bargains are found in the half-priced beer and wine specials.

Lincoln Park Pub
2609 West 14th St., Tremont, 216/621-2240

The Joint: This quintessential Tremont bar is the go-to spot for hungry locals come Tuesday night. The warm, welcoming tavern is a pleasant holdover from simpler times, when the working class was the ruling class. Thick crowds can make scoring a seat a challenge.

The Deal: Straightforward but pleasant tacos go hand-in-hand with the no-frills vibe of the place. Noteworthy for their more-than-generous girth, soft flour tacos come filled with ground beef, shredded chicken, bean, or a combination thereof. Prices ($2 or less) include shredded lettuce, grated cheddar, sour cream and simple jarred salsa.

The Fine Print: Taco Tuesday runs from 3 p.m. to midnight. Mexican beers go for $2.25 and house margaritas for $3.25.

Insider's Tip: Beat the crowds by getting here before the Happy Hour rush, when seats are plentiful and tacos come out of the kitchen at lightning speed.

Major Hoopples

1930 Columbus Ave., Cleveland, 216/575-0483

The Joint: This come-as-you-are institution in the Flats attracts a cross section of Clevelanders thanks to some of the most stunning skyline views. Friendly service and a groovy antique bowling game add to the charm.

The Deal: Two no-nonsense, pint-sized soft flour tacos overflowing with sloppy goodness for $3. Choices include ground beef, shredded chicken, and vegetarian refried black beans. Tacos are gilded with the usual shredded lettuce, grated cheddar, and dollop of sour cream. Request a side of jarred salsa if you dare.

The Fine Print: Taco Tuesday runs from 4 to 10:30 p.m. Pints of Labatt's go for just $2.

Insider's Tip: Get here early, this is one of the more popular Taco Tuesday haunts. As one Hoopples staffer puts it: "When we run out, we run out."

Parkview Nite Club
1261 W. 58th St., Detroit Shoreway, 216/961-1341

The Joint: Long a neighborhood staple, the Parkview is making new friends thanks to the rise of the Detroit Shoreway scene around it. One of the oldest saloons in town, this gem continues to attract folks with its vintage bar atmosphere, chill vibe, and surprisingly inspired tacos. Part sports bar, part live music venue, and part beer-geek find, the Parkview has a little something for everyone.

The Deal: Two-fisted soft or crispy flour tortillas come stuffed with seasoned ground beef or black beans ($1.25), grilled tuna with mango salsa ($2.25), or the signature smoky chipotle shredded pork (two for $3).

The Fine Print: Taco Tuesday runs from 5 to 10 p.m. Bar specials run from 3 to 7 p.m. with $1 off premium drafts. Parties of six or more are asked to phone ahead.

Insider's Tip: In the frigid Cleveland winter try to jockey for proximity to the warm wood stove, while in the summer months, seek out the patio in back.

5800 Detroit Ave., Detroit Shoreway, 216/961-5800

The Joint: This "modern taqueria" in the Gordon Square Arts District dabbles in Latin fusion, and the sophisticated menu features a huge selection of creative tacos, salsas, and sides. Popular small plates include chorizo corn dogs, lobster nachos, and creamy guacamole. The tequila selection is one of Cleveland's best.

The Deal: Some taco providers focus on quantity, while others on quality. Roseangel falls into the latter camp, offering small portions of high-quality fare. More accurately called taco "sliders," the tiny treats come four to an order and cost just $1. What they lack in size they make up for in flavor thanks to fresh-made corn tortillas and seasoned grilled chicken or beef in a Latin inspired BBQ sauce.

The Fine Print: Both Taco Tuesday and Happy Hour run from 5 to 7 p.m. during which time guests enjoy two-for-one wine, beer and house margaritas.

Insider's Tip: These tiny tacos pack a big punch -- but do yourself a flavor and order them by the bunch.

Sachsenheim Hall

7001 Denison Ave., Cleveland, 216/651-0888

The Joint: This historic German beer hall and live music venue in Cleveland gets rave reviews for their large selection of tacos at bargain-basement prices. Fairly priced German beer on tap combined with friendly staffers give this hidden gem a boost.

The Deal: Priced at only $0.75 each, the tacos are available in six or eight creative flavors, such as pulled pork, chipotle bacon, chorizo, black bean and corn, grilled fish, and classic ground beef. As usual, they include the standard shredded lettuce-cheese-sour cream toppers.

The Fine Print: Taco Tuesday runs from 5:30 to 11 p.m. As for drink specials, management says, "We don't really do happy hour drinks because our drinks are cheap to begin with." Priced at $5 per liter, who can argue with that?

Insider's Tip: The Sash is a large, cavernous space, and it fills up fast with hungry taco hunters. But the kitchen is small, so expect to wait a little longer for your tacos.

Gillespie's Map Room
1281 W. 9th St., Downtown, 216/621-7737

The Joint: A Warehouse District watering hole adored by downtown commuters and neighborhood denizens alike, the Map Room keeps folks happy with simple bar food, generous drink pours, and personable service. Guests can expect an antique bar, cozy fireplace, and top-notch beer selection

The Deal: Although best known for their outstanding pizza, the Map Room's Taco Tuesdays offer up terrific bargains too. Just $1.25 nets a diner either a soft flour or crispy corn taco with a choice of grilled chicken or seasoned ground beef. The usual toppings -- lettuce, cheese, sour cream, taco sauce -- are included.

The Fine Print: Taco Tuesday runs all day until the kitchen closes at last call. Happy Hour runs from 3 to 7 p.m. everyday, with $2 domestic pints and bottles, and $3 well drinks.

Insider's Tip: Tuesdays are generally slow in the Warehouse District, but during home-game nights, street parking spots can be as rare as a Cavs' win.

Photography by Bob Perkoski
- Photos 1 - 4: Deagan's Kitchen
- Photos 5 - 9: Sachsenheim Hall
- Photos 10 - 13: Roseangel
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