Mema’s Alaskan Tacos
Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on June 9, 2011
SO my girlfriend and i went down to ybor to see some kind of rock and roll show. we get there, and there’s this HUGE line of what appear to be pre-teens, all waiting to get into the same place we’re going.
now, i’m already pissed as it is, because i hate ybor. it’s too hip for me. and i hate people. and there are lots of them running around the place. and i especially hate young people, especially when they’re in ybor, because GO HOME YOU KIDS WHY THE HELL ARE YOU IN YBOR?! and it was around this peak in my rage that we realize we didn’t get tickets in advance, and everyone in this line have their tickets pre-ordered, so we have to go to that line, on the other side of the building. and that line doesn’t seem to move at all, and all these kids are laughing about their moms asking if there was going to be alcohol at the show, and scientologists are trying to convert us, and it’s been like an hour since the doors opened, and some guy drives by and asks “any good lookin’ white ladies wanna get in my car”, and we decide screw this, let’s see a movie and get some food. and so we did.
it was either tacos or pizzas, and somebody hates pizzas (ie. not me). so we went for the tacos at mema’s alaskan tacos, just east of centro ybor and crowbar on 8th. i had been there before, but only once, and was excited to sample their foodstuffs.
mema’s is a pretty cool/hip place, which is well suited to the area. it’s got a lot of personality. inside there are lots of wacky lights, and strange things on the walls and hanging from the ceilings. there are cool people behind the counter and in the kitchen. and there’s lots of beer! they have over fifty types of bottled beer, and a handful on tap, as well as special homemade sangria (which i did not even know about). they’re open late (’til one on weekdays, and three on thursdays, fridays, and saturdays). basically, this is where you come after you’re done with your “clubbing” and whatnot, but not ready for that sweet party to end.
overwhelmed by choices, i went with florida avenue ale, a light wheat beer brewed here in tampa at cold storage craft brewery. it was decent. not too bitter, fairly refreshing. lightly fruity. i was actually pretty happy with it, until i read that it only was 4.7% alcohol. 4.7%?? what a rip! annnnd then later i realized that 4.7% isn’t that bad. i guess i just got used to drinking wine. how shameful. all in all, an alright beer. nothing special. but points for coming from tampa.
i also tried their blueberry ale, which too was wheat based. the flavor was overwhelmingly blueberry. it hurt me to drink it. and i like blueberry beers usually; this thing was just far too much. too sweet. too blue. do not recommend.
my girlfriend got one of their tamales… the roast pork one. this single tamale apparently was comprised of the entire remaining supply of pork in the restaurant that evening, which was upsetting to me. ah needs me mah pork! after ordering the tamale, they retrieved from what i am guessing was a freezer. eh. when we got it to our table, i commented that it looked like poopy. i believe that went over well. the tamale was alright, but nothing really special to me. i don’t typically eat them, but the last one i had was from the taco bus, and it was faaaar superior to this little dingus. but this was okay. “edible” raved my girlfriend. it was covered in their patented poopy sauce, which added a bit of flavor to the somewhat bland innards.
i got two of their tacos – one chicken, one beef. i started with the chicken. the trick to these “alaskan style” tacos is that the shell and the meat inside are cooked together, resulting in a crisp, flaky fried shell. the shell is excellent. it was the best part of their food. a bit greasy, but retaining its crunch throughout the meal. its only setback was that it was so crisp that it broke apart easily, causing the tacos innards to fly everywhere, and making things generally more difficult to eat.
the meat inside, in both the chicken and the beef taco, were not great. by any means. they both were compacted chunks of meat, reminding me more of a chicken patty than what i’m used to eating at taco places. i guess this is to simplify the cooking process and keep things together when they’re preparing them, but the end result is less than stellar. the meat also was somewhat lacking in flavor, as though it hadn’t been seasoned. the toppings were fine though, especially the salsa, which i kept wishing i had more of.
all in all, neither taco blew me away. i really liked the shell, but couldn’t get past the meat. they’d probably be great if you were trashed, though.
we also got an order of their homemade churros, which the menus specifies are actually “churro fingers”. ah. so tiny. they were around the size of taco bell’s cinnamon twists, but much more filling than those would be. they were served with a chocolate sauce to dip them in. the churros were pretty good by themselves; they were light but substantial, and a bit chewy. and there was a liberal coating of cinnamon/sugar, which was great. honestly, the chocolate sauce was an unnecessary addition, though not unwelcome. it was good, but it kind of overpowered the flavor of the churros themselves.
overall, not the greatest mexican food in the world. good ideas, but not the best in practice. they do have a lot of good beers, but really this place is not worth going out of your way to visit. however, if you are in ybor, and you are drunk, and you are craving something after a long night of “being cool” and “having friends” and “socializing” with other “humans”, this may just be the place to stop by. oh and they have live djs on thursday nights… but i really don’t think you’d want to waste your time there when two steps away is actual music. eh.
UPDATE: this place is now closed!! clooooosed. fuck you mema’s.
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