A Taco In The Rough

by HEAB on May 29, 2011

I’ll be the first to admit that I love a good chain restaurant (Houston’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Chipotle – love them!), but my favorite restaurants are those random out of the way places that only locals know about. I often get emails from readers asking me where to eat when they come to Nashville, and I email them back with a list of my favorite locally owned restaurants. Well, I have discovered a new one to add to the list.

On Friday, Summer and I joined my friend Justine and her little one for lunch at Mas Tacos.


Bars on the windows and a crowd inside…I knew delicious food awaited us.


My eyes scanned over the chalkboard menu, and right away my belly zoomed in on Sweet Potato Quinoa Taco. I’d like one of those please, along with a Cast Iron Chicken Taco. Thank you.


Both were so good. The chicken taco came with chicken, roasted tomatillo salsa, sour cream, cilantro, and lime. I was in heaven. Honestly, can we give it up for sour cream? It so does not get the credit it deserves.

Justine ordered grilled corn on the cob…


Mmm. Corn, queso, lime, and spices. Must order one of my own next time.

Mas Tacos, thank you for an amazing lunch. You are definitely getting bumped to the top of my Must-Eat Here list for Nashville, and I hope to see you again soon myself. πŸ™‚

Where do you take people to eat when they come for a visit?


Eden June 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I know, I m late commenting but I’m sure you’ll forgive me. Never met a taco I didn’t like. But get yourself to LA and I’ll show you taco heaven for less than a gallon of gas (includes cheesy mexican soda and possible churro).

Beth (Well I'll Be) May 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Yum, Mas Tacos is in my neck of the woods! I love their sweet potato and quinoa taco! I’ve never tried their fried avocado one though and I’m pretty sure that would be my new fave!

Nikki May 31, 2011 at 8:36 am

Mmmm that restaurant looks delicious! I totally wish we had a mexican joint like that around here.

However, there are different gems here in the Burgh that I oft drag people to. If it is someone’s first time, I do insist they try Primanti’s at least once. It’s where you get Pittsburgh’s famous sandwich that comes with fries and coleslaw on it. YUM!

Then, the local place I love that is about a five min walk from my apt is this six pack shop called Packs and Dogs. They have this amazing beer selection for $2.25 a bottle. You can try so many incredible micro brews, relax on leather couches or in a vintage looking cafe booth and just hang out or watch tv/listen to music (depending on what they have on then.) They also have this to die for hotdog concoctions, like the Bloodhound – onions, bacon, bbq, cheese). A little over a year ago when I moved in up there there was hardly a crowd. Now, it still is quiet but a few more people seem to be there regularly, which rocks, because I don’t EVER want the place to go out of business!

HEAB May 31, 2011 at 8:49 am

If I lived in Pittsburgh, I would definitely do my part to keep Packs and Dogs in business. I’m not a beer girl, but I love a good hot dog. πŸ˜‰

Katherina @ Zephyr Runs May 31, 2011 at 7:59 am

Oh man! The restaurant where I work has a quinoa sweet potato burrito that is one of our most popular dishes! (with corn, onions, and a ginger cilantro dressing… Mmmmm!) I do the same as you and try to show people the non Disney/not chain Orlando!

Kristen - Anywhere There's An Airport May 31, 2011 at 2:33 am

I am constantly working on my “to eat in Madrid” list! But it seems I always take my visitors to my same favorites πŸ™‚

p.s. love the new look and the new blog direction! Can’t wait to keep reading!

Alyssa May 30, 2011 at 10:23 pm

That is awesome! It is about as authentic to Mexican Street Fare as you can get πŸ™‚ I’ve always wanted to try the grilled corn!

Oh, and if you, CD, and Summer come back to CO to visit, I’ve got a killer restaurant for you to try in Denver…Watercourse Foods. AMAZING!!

HEAB May 31, 2011 at 7:17 am

I’ve been to Watercourse Foods a couple of times. Love their egg dishes and sweet potato fries!

Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner May 30, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I LOVE the little restaurants! The lil’ local places always have the BEST food! πŸ˜€

Angel7 May 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I have never heard of a “Sweet Potato Quinoa Taco.” I must say that that is kind of unique, and I would like it, because I love quinoa!

My husband and I love little hole in the wall restaurants, because they most always have awesome food!


A Teenage Gourmet May 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Wahhhh. πŸ™ I miss Nashville. I take my guests to our new pizza joint. The restaurant grows its own produce! If you’re ever in central Kentucky, I’d be happy to show you around, Heather. πŸ™‚

Marty May 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Oh my! A sweet potato/quinoa burrito or taco on my plate please!!! When I come to Nashville for the first time this is a must eat! In San Diego in Hillcrest across from the Muellar College of Holistic Studies (did massage and accupressure intensives there when Bill Muellar was still teaching) up the street a little there is an absolutely, absolutely fabulous hole on the wall small sit down Mexican, fresh fish or anything burrito/taco joint, can’t remember the name, but Averie might? San Diego and LA have lots of fab little surprises!

Loving our 80+ breezy warm Fairbanks weather! Yeah summer finally! Xo m

Allie May 30, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Hmm … I usually make them food … I like to cook for people. I love love loved making people pancakes and french toast before I went paleo … now I work around that, but still like to cook for them nonetheless.

* tags Kath *

Kath (My Funny Little Life) May 30, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Small local restaurants like that which can only be discovered at second glance often are the best! πŸ˜€

When my parents visit me and we go to a restaurant, we like to visit one of the traditional places with a beer garden in the courtyard where you can sit below the vine tendrils and enjoy a hearty dish or a fresh salad.

jenny eats nutella from a spoon May 30, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I take people to the local vegetarian/vegan/raw restos when I’m in Toronto… because I know the menus inside out. And when in Vancouver (home), the only restaurant that ever matters: Guu, a Japanese bar-style resto downtown. Basically a tapas resto except Japanese, not regular sushi/sashimi fare. Because everyone knows Vancouver has the best fish/seafood ever.

jenny eats nutella from a spoon May 30, 2011 at 6:12 pm

oh and YES for sour cream!!

Alaina May 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Oh my gosh, those tacos look amazing!! There is something to be said about cilantro and lime together. Such a refreshing combination. πŸ™‚

Danielle Discovers May 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I love the new look Heather! I can definitely relate to feeling “forced” to make something new in the kitchen for the blog. I felt that way for just the short period of time I blogged and I was not a cook before. I plan to return with a similar concept… blog about life. Keep it simple πŸ˜‰

One of my favorite spots back home in Sarasota, FL is a little mediterranean cafe called ‘SAHARA CAFE’. They make THE best falafel pita wraps ever, hands down! πŸ™‚

CB May 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm
Lana May 30, 2011 at 3:12 pm

It’s funny, when people come to visit me I usually end up taking them to one of the on-campus eateries at my alma mater. Seriously, they make really good food (not even for “campus food”).

I used to LOVE this old BBQ shack that was across the street from my old jr. high school, but sadly they closed it down. I think old, run-down BBQ shacks are the best. Good, greasy, saucy food.

Alex @ Spoonful of Sugar Free May 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm

The funnest part about visiting new places is tasting their local restaurants. There are so many tiny restaurants out there that have amazing food-i feel so sad that I can’t visit all of them!!! I remember being on the road once and we stopped at a little mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere Montana. Such fresh ingredients, and so amazingly authentic-who would have thought?

Alyssa May 30, 2011 at 11:28 am

If someone is visiting they’ll usually want to go to Fisherman’s Wharf and get some seafood, so we’ll hit one of the stands over there. But I love taking people to the takeout counter at Greens. It’s all vegetarian, and they make a curry to die for!

Lisa @ Healthful Sense May 30, 2011 at 9:36 am

The sweet potato quinoa tacos sound delicious!

Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food May 30, 2011 at 9:25 am

ohhh I LOVE mexican corn on the cob! mmm mmm!

I love to take guests to the Chicago Diner which an amazing vegan restaurant in our neighborhood. I’m not vegan but I LOVE the food! πŸ™‚

Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! πŸ™‚

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 9:39 am

CD and I tried to eat there once but could not find parking. It was Labor Day weekend, and things were a little crazy downtown. Maybe next time. πŸ™‚

katie @KatieDid May 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

yes, I’ll give a huge shout out to sour cream! I Always have some on hand because mexican style meals are my fave! This place looks insanely delicious and wow that corn is like nothing I’ve seen before!
I also love finding cool cafes that have a funky vibe, and taking people out for coffee. In Burlington, vt there is a breakfast/ lunch place called Magnolia’s (which you would LOVE) that is very hippy/ funky and serves such fresh and innovative foods.

Baking 'n' Books May 30, 2011 at 8:35 am

I want to come to the States just for CPK and this famous Chipolte I hear about! (Is Chipolte healthy by the way?)

There’s something about the chalk-board written boards that makes you know you’ve hit a good spot! πŸ™‚

Holly @ The Runny Egg May 30, 2011 at 8:19 am

Honestly we are big chain restaurant eaters — and usually if people visit we let them choose or we cook for them. (and also honestly this doesn’t happen much, so I have no idea where I would take somebody!)

molly May 30, 2011 at 7:59 am

i love mas taco! she is my neighbor, so i am bias, but it is soooo yummy!

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:03 am

All the cool folks live on the East side. πŸ˜‰

Evan May 30, 2011 at 7:58 am

We’re so deprived of authentic Mexican up here in CT…that looks fantastic!

Honestly, I usually cook for visitors. My town doesn’t have the best restaurants, so cooking is usually the best bet. There IS a good Italian place that I take friends on occasion, though. Brick oven pizzas, delicious cocktails…OK, that’s my go-to visitor-friendly restaurant.

Stephanie @ StephSnacks May 30, 2011 at 7:36 am

I take them to my favorite sushi restaurant called Kumo! PS– Loving the banner!

Victoria (District Chocoholic) May 30, 2011 at 7:12 am

Sweet Potato Quinoa Taco? Are you sure they aren’t spying on you?

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:04 am

I know, right? Where’s the unsweetened Baker’s chocolate and coconut ice-cream dessert taco?!? πŸ˜‰

The Teenage Taste May 30, 2011 at 6:53 am

Whenever my family has company the first night we usually cook dinner and every night after that we go out. I always look for home-y restaurants with delicious food. (obviously!) My favorite place to take people is this restaurant around me that makes healthy, yet delish comfort food. Yum! πŸ˜€

Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) May 30, 2011 at 6:34 am

The tacos sound delicious! I was just thinking about quinoa tacos yesterday since I took a quinoa dish to a friends house for a BBQ. I’m glad you had a great lunch with a friend. It sounds like a perfectly delicious afternoon!

Riss May 30, 2011 at 5:55 am

One of the difficult things about living in Atlanta is deciding WHICH cool place to hit first! You could spend weeks here, doing nothing but eating! But, if you EVER came down this way, I’d have to take you to the Flying Biscuit (a chain, but they are mostly in Georgia), Souper Jenny’s, or Flip Burger!

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:05 am

One of my favorite restaurants!! We always go to the one in Candler Park. I have the cookbook and a T-shirt. Love love LOVE the Flying Biscuit. πŸ™‚

Hannah May 30, 2011 at 5:46 am

Oh gosh, I don’t know how you’d fare in Australia then! You’d either hate it or love it, and chain restaurants don’t exist (unless you count McDonalds and Subway…)

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:06 am

Hannah, I think I’d do just fine – you guys seem to have a lot of chocolate, although I would start a petition in hopes of getting the unsweetened stuff imported. πŸ˜‰

Hannah May 30, 2011 at 8:54 am

I would support that with all my heart.

lindsay May 30, 2011 at 5:45 am

might have to visit that place when we are in Nashville Next. Tacos are like milk and bread in our house……a staple we don’t go without.

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:08 am

Lindsay, First things first, you better call me next time you’re here! πŸ™‚

Matt @ The Athlete's Plate May 30, 2011 at 5:26 am

When did you redo your blog? I’m so out of the loop!

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:08 am

While you were busy celebrating your birth. πŸ˜‰

Samantha May 30, 2011 at 12:30 am

Oh my goodness at the tacos and corn! When I make it that way, might just have to try that place. ALthough I admit, I hope my uncle will make us some of his hushpuppies too, they’re so good!

It’s funny but here our favorite ‘restaurants’ aren’t even Chamorro food…one is Jamaican Jerk, one is sushi and one is greek. But you can’t beat the food at fiestas…chicken kelaguen, tinaktak, fried rice, pancit…YUM!

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:09 am


Liz @ iheartvegetables May 30, 2011 at 12:21 am

I can never decide where to take friends when they visit! Richmond has SO many awesome local restaurants! Usually we go to either this amazing italian place, or this cafe that has a salad bar in a bathtub! So delicious!

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:10 am

A salad bar in a bathtub? What a clever & creative idea. Love it!

Kelsey @ Clean Teen Kelsey May 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Oh wow, those tacos sound to die for. Sweet potato quinoa, really?! I’m craving that now. πŸ˜›

Rachel @ Grateful Girl Goes Gluten Free May 29, 2011 at 11:36 pm

I never can think of good places to bring people when they visit me in Wisconsin, but that is because we don’t have awesome taco places. I’m so with you on sour cream how and why is it so good?!

robyn jones clark May 29, 2011 at 11:16 pm

that’s where kristin russell always talks about, she had me at sweetpotato tacos! i definitely want to eat there on my next trip there (which actually might be soon! so i’ll keep you posted).

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:10 am

Yes, we will meet there for lunch. Looking forward to it. πŸ™‚

Katie May 29, 2011 at 10:37 pm

With Mexican, I always find that the divier the place looks, the better the food is. Was that corn thing called elote? They make that here in Arizona at a lot of the more authentic mexican restaurants and it is so good!

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:12 am

Yep, elote. Can’t wait to try one myself. I never make it to the Mexican restaurants when we’re in AZ as the rest of the family are not really fans of Mexican. I should just go myself one day as I know they wouldn’t mind. Perhaps Summer will enjoy Mexican like her mama. She can be my date.

Tea-bag May 29, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I love chalkboard menus – ensures freshness! My old fav place to take people was a seafood place in Oakland that printed it’s menu daily because they only used the freshest fish! However, I also liked this international food court – afghani, Japanese, irish, Greek – awesome!
I think grilled corn w/ chili, garlic, & lemon need a little “raise the roof action!”

Lee May 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm
HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:13 am

I’ve walked by The Vortex many a time in Little 5 Points, but never eaten there. Shame on me, huh? Always end up at The Flying Biscuit. πŸ˜‰

Yoga Laura May 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

big shout out for sour cream. Can’t live without it!

Krystina (Organically Me) May 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Oh my gosh, Heather, your new site design is GORGEOUS!

Tori (Fresh Fruition) May 29, 2011 at 9:34 pm

I’ve never been to a hole-in-the-wall local type place. I’d love to try something like that and be so adventurous! Unfortunately there’s not much of that type of stuff around here. Maybe when I’m back at school in the fall πŸ™‚

Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli May 29, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Ahhh, I LOVE little foodie treasures like this! I was in Green Hills today with a friend and I thought about texting you to see if you knew of a good “lesser known” place to get some good eats. We ended up going to Noodles & Company and my lunch was sadly disappointing! πŸ™

My favorite place to eat here in town is a toss up between Hananoki (a hibachi style restaurant) and Kora (my new favorite sushi place)

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:15 am

Oh man, that’s too bad about Noodles & Co. I’ve seen it but never been. I probably would have recommended Kalamata’s. Love that place. A little Mediterranean restaurant in the same strip at Pier 1. We should go next time you’re in town.

Lesley Lifting Life May 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm

I love finding new must-eat-here local restaurants! Just by seeing your pictures, I would totally agree this is a must-eat-here type of place!

Katherine May 29, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Mellow Mushroom all the way!

P.S. I tagged you in a Operation Beautiful thing on my blog today πŸ™‚

Meagan May 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Whole Foods Market. Oh baby.

Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) May 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Bars on the windows ALWAYS means a fabulous meal is in store!! I call these places “real people places” and it’s always the sort that we seek out when we travel (and at home too!!)

Fun that you saw Justine- she’s such a sweetie! And did you change your header?!! I’m on a weird connection in the middle of bum efffing nowhere but it looks totally different!

Love you my friend!

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:16 am

I totally thought of you when I was there as I knew you and Derek would have loved Mas Tacos, and yes, redesigned the site last week. Well, I didn’t do it, but I love it. Needed a new look. It was time! πŸ™‚

P.S. Justine is expecting. Due in December. πŸ™‚

Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) May 30, 2011 at 8:23 am

OMG exciting please tell her congrats! I hope she’s feeling well!

Sometimes I read your posts in Google Reader and since you have 87 comments already, I sorta figure, you won’t miss mine πŸ™‚ And the new design is very pretty and calm and serene- just like you!?!!! πŸ™‚

Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) May 30, 2011 at 8:27 am

Oh and i love Tommy Bahama Cafe (not the clothes egads)…they have a secret ceviche that is killer and NOT on the menu. and the best steak salad on the planet with shiitake mushrooms that I can only describe as ‘crispy’ mmmm

VeggieGirl May 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I’m glad you mentioned CPK – love it! πŸ™‚

Cynthia (It All Changes) May 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Those corn cobs are the best thing about Spanish cuisine. Who doesn’t love cheese, spices and occasionally mayo.

Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) May 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

“Bars on the windows and a crowd inside…I knew delicious food awaited us.”–

OMG just two days ago I posted about a bar here in Aruba with bars on the window that’s ALWAYS packed. Locals and tourists alike. The beer is cold and the fried food is good πŸ™‚

I love that you and Justine (wish she was still blogging!) went off the beaten path a bit and had a great lunch together.

San Diego has tons and tons of places like the one you describe; so does Aruba. When I am in either place, I have quite an arsenal of restaurants, delis, dives, hole in the walls, or 5 star places I can choose from. It all depends what the guests want and how adventurous they’re feeling!

HEAB May 30, 2011 at 8:18 am

Really wishing I was in either San Diego or Aruba today. I need some breezy ocean time. Nashville heat is already oppressive. πŸ™

Alyssa May 30, 2011 at 11:25 am

Roberto’s, in San Diego!

Jessica May 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm

My husband and I are headed to San Diego on Wednesday! Are there any more places that you recommend?? πŸ™‚

Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) May 30, 2011 at 2:22 pm

that’s like asking where in NYC should someone eat…well it’s not quite that big but the choices are endless depending on where you’re staying.
by neighborhood/area of the city (these vary by 25 miles apart)

downtown La Jolla
downtown Del Mar
downtown San Diego/Gaslamp district

if you go to any of those areas and walk around, you are 100% guaranteed to find something you like. or love. πŸ™‚

Have fun!

Alyssa May 30, 2011 at 2:28 pm

It’s been a while since I lived there, but if it still exists, you can try Taste of Thai in Hillcrest. There are also a bunch of nice places in downtown la Jolla, as well as the Gaslamp district.
Have fun!

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