The survey says Santa Barbara is the taco city in the state?
The Fresno Tacos say (make that buzzer sound from “Family Feud”).
Make fun of Fresno (the heat, the city council, the sound of the city’s name), and many residents shrug their shoulders. Make fun of tacos? Those are fighting words.
Perhaps the city’s minor league baseball team, the Tacos (a.k.a. the Grizzlies), is giving too much credibility to a lawn care website that wandered into food judging.
It prompted the baseball team to hold a news conference to vent its anger at LawnStarter.com and Santa Barbara, which was judged No. 1 on the list.
“I want to address the folks at a little jabroni website called LawnStarter.com. I would recommend, brother, that you guys stick to fertilizer and seed and let us deal with what we know best, which is tacos,” team president Derek Franks said, channeling his inner Hulk Hogan.
Fresno ranked 53 out of 100 cities in California, an affront to the Tacos/Grizzlies and the promoters of the Taco Truck Throwdown — the 10th edition taking place Oct. 23 at Chukchansi Park (discount tickets are here).
Franks challenged Santa Barbara to show up, even offering to pay its entry fee.
LawnStarter: We Goofed
“Next time we have to make sure we include taco trucks, we have to include taco shops, taquerias.” — Jeff Herman, LawnStarter.com
LawnStarter calls itself the “Uber for lawn care.”
It ranked cities’ taco-ness on “wide access to taquerias, top Michelin honors, high consumer ratings, and taco festivals.”
Jeff Herman is the editor-in-chief for LawnStarter. Upon further review, he admitted his company’s taco ratings missed the mark.
“What I’m finding out is that we don’t necessarily have the fuel on tacos in Fresno and we probably need a better job on that next time,” Herman said. “Most times we get it right. This time I think we miss some things about Fresno with our data crunching that we should have probably done a little bit more research.”
Why Does a Lawn Care Site Care About Tacos?
Why did a lawn care website rank tacos?
“While we were all in COVID, (our data staff) were looking for crazy things to do the research on and then to rank cities on. And this is one that they came up with,” Herman said.
LawnStarter’s staff has never been to Fresno to try the tacos. They weren’t even aware that Fresno has had a major taco competition the last 10 years. The baseball team invited them to attend the Taco Truck Throwdown.
What were the flaws in LawnStarter’s rankings?
For starters, taco trucks — Fresno’s specialty — wasn’t a metric used.
“Next time we have to make sure we include taco trucks, we have to include taco shops, taquerias,” Herman said.
Seriously, You Used the Michelin Guide to Rate Tacos?
One metric the site used is the number of Michelin star restaurants. For the record, none are in the Central Valley.
“If I’m going to a Michelin-rated restaurant, I’m not going to be ordering tacos,” Herman said in hindsight.
Mike Oz, one of the brains behind the throwdown, also questioned the Michelin metric.
“If the tacos are the price they would be at Michelin star restaurant, they’re definitely not better than what we’re doing here in Fresno,” Oz said.
Why even care what a lawn care website says?
“It matters that we are viewed in the proper perspective. (We are) the taco capital of California and the world and we’re not above having a little fun during the taco season with something like this,” Oz said.
Herman has a new respect for Fresno.
“It’s so cool to see how Fresno is so passionate about tacos,” he said.
Taco Truck: We are the Best
Taco Pinto won the judge’s award at the 2019 Taco Throwdown.
The truck is operated by the Fresno wife-husband team of Maritza Silva and Luciano Morfin.
“Fresno has the best tacos in the world,” Silva said. “You cannot take that list seriously.”
Morfin explained why Taco Pinto is the best.
“We have what is not very common in Fresno, like the fried shrimp taco, Baja style. We have our own seasoning with our own flavor. In the asada, we have the best quality meat… it’s always fresh,” Morfin said.