In 2017, “Business Insider ranked Flacos Tacos as the fifth best “taco joint” in America.
I’m sure that ranking came as no surprise to the Flacos regulars who have long supported the Pooler location at 1117 S. Rogers St.
Flacos Tacos has also opened restaurants at 7 Fort Argyle Rd. near the intersection of state route 204 and I-95 and at 1304 E. Highway 80 in Bloomingdale near Randy Wood Guitars & Music Store.
None of those locations are especially far from downtown Savannah, but for those of us who typically dine near the city center, Flacos Tacos has often seemed tantalizingly out of reach.
But not anymore.
Flacos Tacos is now open at 111 W. Congress St., between Whitaker and Barnard streets just off Ellis Square. It’s an interesting location for a number of reasons, but more on that in a moment.
I generally like to give new restaurants time to get settled before I patronize them, but I was in no mood to wait for Flacos. As it turned out, I enjoyed my first sampling of the hearty tacos when the place had closed, but the staff was so welcoming that I didn’t even realize the “open” sign was off.
Flacos Tacos keeps the menu simple. There are six tacos (grilled steak, marinated pork, slow cooked pork, grilled chicken, grilled or fried fish, grilled shrimp), all priced from $2.50 to $3.50 and available on flour or corn tortillas.
The tacos can be purchased “Flaco style” with cilantro, onions and salsa or “Flaco bell style” – see what they did there? – with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and cheese.
Flacos Tacos also offers bowls, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and combo meals, with most items priced under $10.
At the moment, the new downtown Flacos Tacos has just two large tables inside plus several on the patio. The interior can hold more seating, however, so there could be adjustments soon. I have found the counter service quick and friendly on both my visits so far.
Flacos Tacos is open long hours – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.
Any restaurant that stays open after the bars close at 3 a.m. is in effect doing a public service, so it’s good to see the downtown location launch with such a late weekend closing time. Please be aware, however, that new restaurants frequently adjust their hours in the first few weeks or months.
A tricky block of Congress
The 100 block of West Congress has long fascinated me because of its unusual history and interesting mix of businesses.
The street was prominently featured in the lamentably bad movie “CBGB” (so much potential!), and the diverse array of longtime businesses includes The Lady and Sons and The Jinx, arguably the most important music venue in the city in the 21st century.
Two other thriving nightspots – Barrelhouse South and Club 51 – are on the same block.
The corner space at Whitaker Street now occupied by Kay’s Pizza, formerly Sweet Melissa’s, is often packed late at night.
The Paula Deen Retail Store and Metals & Paint attract shoppers to the block.
After closing to the public over a year ago, Sapphire Grill is used for special events and for a thriving catering business.
Despite these successes, the block sees some uneven traffic.
The Tervis Store next to Flacos closed recently. Founded in 1946, Tervis is best known for their insulated tumblers, and it’s the type of business that typically thrives in high-traffic tourist markets. The Tervis in Charleston is located near the busy corner of Church and Market streets.
A parking lot on the south side of the street hurts the pedestrian experience and means less shade than on many other blocks of Congress Street.
And the Flaco’s space itself has changed hands often in recent years – so many times I have lost track. The storefront has a patio, which should be a plus, but that means the front door is set back from the sidewalk. The design makes it harder to attract casual passersby who don’t already know the reputation of Flaco’s Tacos.
Of course, the reputation is stellar, and many downtown residents and workers will be flocking to Flacos. The price, quality and speed will be strong lures for downtown workers and visitors too, once they realize the restaurant is there.
City Talk appears every Tuesday and Sunday. Bill Dawers can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. Send mail to 10 E. 32nd St., Savannah, Ga. 31401.