We ate all the tacos in preparation for winning Tin Lizzy’s Taco Contest in 2015

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Remember when we tried to improve the lives of others by inventing the world’s most perfect taco? Remember when our very excellent taco wasn’t chosen as one of the four finalists of Tin Lizzy’s 2014 Taco Contest? Remember when we spent the afternoon scaring everyone in the office by ugly crying in the office bathroom because our taco wasn’t good enough?

Okay, you might not remember that last one. If you do, please wipe it from your memory immediately. Thanks.

We got over our disappointment the minute we stepped into Tin Lizzy’s four weeks ago, ready to try finalist number one. We tried to visit the restaurant–already one of our favorites–every week so that we could try every taco, but as fate would have it, the one taco we missed is the one that won! The Steak Out taco won the 2014 Taco Contest–over 1,200 Steak Out tacos were sold in the week it was available! It’s no surprise that they had run out of the ingredients when we very sneakily (and guiltily) tried to order it the week after it was being sold.

Tin Lizzy's taco contest steak out

The Steak Out has grilled steak, crispy onion strings, lettuce, blue cheese crumbles, tomatoes, and garlic aioli

We may not have even made it to the final four won this year, but we’re formulating a plan to win next year.  After submitting a taco, eating the winning tacos from the past three years, and tasting three out of this year’s four finalists, what have we learned about Tin Lizzy’s taco contest? A lot.

1. Think outside of the box, or outside of the taco
If you’ve created a taco with ingredients that usually go in a taco, you’re doing it wrong. When have you ever seen crispy onion strings in a taco before? Probably never, and that’s why Tin Lizzy’s likes it. Tin Lizzy’s is anything but your standard Tex-Mex fare–it’s Flex-Mex with flair, and they like to surprise guests with creative and unusual tacos. So go ahead, experiment with honey, curry, and cauliflower. It’s all fair game here.

2. If there’s another food you like, put it in a taco
2011’s Taco Contest winner was the Cheeseburger taco. 2013’s winner had all the elements of a low country boil in it. One of this year’s finalists, Big Island Taco, stuffed the flavors of a Hawaiian barbeque into a taco shell. Flex-Mex sometimes means re-imagining familiar foods in a Tex-Mex context, aka in a taco. To be fair, everything is better in a taco, so this is a pretty solid philosophy.

Tin Lizzy's taco contest big island taco

The Big Island taco–fried chicken with hot hawaiian coleslaw, pineapple mango salsa, and shredded coconut

3. Go big or go home
Do you like cheese? Of course you do. Do you think cheddar, Monterrey Jack, goat cheese, & queso dip is too much for one taco to handle? Well, you shouldn’t, because they were all in one of this year’s taco finalists. Granted, the Cheese Too Pretty taco did not win, but we’d all eat it again. Just look at how all that cheese gently cradles those fried buffalo shrimp. We think that where the Taco Contest is concerned, bolder is better.

Tin Lizzy's taco contest cheese too pretty

CHEESE! Specifically, fried buffalo shrimp, cheddar, Monterrey Jack, queso, & goat cheese topped with lettuce & tomato

4. Don’t worry about using ingredients the restaurant already has in the kitchen … Well, don’t worry too much
If your taco is good enough, Tin Lizzy’s will get the ingredients. Neither crispy onion strings nor shredded coconut was on the menu (or in the kitchen) before this year’s taco contest, but the recipes merited the extra components. That being said, you should keep practicality in mind–they’re probably not going to make an alligator taco (even though it’d be so good).

Until next year, we’ll be visiting Tin Lizzy’s very often for more research–luckily, we get 5-15% off with Woblet at the Emory Point location, so we can do as much research as we want without hurting our wallets. In fact, we might even research some margaritas. We think we have a good idea (which may or may not be related to margaritas–our lips are sealed), but our recipe’s got to be perfected. After this year’s emotional breakdown learning experience, we think we’ve got 2015 in the bag.

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