Let’s Taco ’bout it


Laura Landsbaum

The three sampled tacos – (l to r) Fried Paneer, Mexi-Cali Shrimp and the former WTF (weekly taco feature) – Chicken Cordon Bleu.

A new, urban Texas staple has just arrived in The Woodlands: the trending Tex-Mex sensation, Velvet Taco. In its attempt to challenge the longstanding status of Torchy’s Tacos, the new restaurant has opened its doors at the intersection of Gosling and Research near the hustling-and-bustling business district of our township. Being only five minutes from The Woodlands High’s Senior Campus, The Caledonian recently sent me as one of its restaurant-review envoys to test the true tastefulness of the taco tavern.

After placing an online order through their website, I headed eastbound on Research Forest, salivating in anticipation of the three tacos I had ordered: first, the weekly special Chicken Cordon Bleu; second, the vegetarian Paneer taco; and last, the classic Mexi-Cali. Upon arrival, however, I had to drive around the parking lot several times in search of a spot. After being unable to find one, having to park at the Walgreen’s, and having to tread the long and treacherous journey through the McDonald’s lot, I was finally able to admire the outdoor decorations they have put in place. Along with the combination of classic patio lights and tall tables with an almost bungalow feel, Velvet Taco also hired an artist to paint a large and colorful mural.

Upon entering the restaurant, I also came to notice how the inside was just as well decorated and had refreshingly ample space filled with booths and tables. The cleanliness was impeccable, and the open view of the kitchen comforted me in knowing how open they are in their cooking process. However, Velvet Taco lacks ANY sort of nutritional information anywhere online or in the restaurant. Upon a secondary investigation, The Caledonian also discovered that even the workers are unable to provide caloric content or macronutrient content (grams of protein, fats, carbohydrates), and instead only inform the customer if the item is vegan or gluten-free. Beyond just that, information on allergens could not be found anywhere apart from the simple ingredients list they provide. This is completely unacceptable, as many customers may rely on this information to maintain restricted diets for a number of health reasons.

Though the service was amazing, the packaging became a problem before I even took the first bite. Velvet Taco does not provide bowls to catch the usual taco spillage, leaving the customer to use copious amounts of paper towels and hope the wax paper catches as much as it can. However, the real disappointment came when I tasted the tacos: the vegetarian Paneer was simply bland, nothing more to say; the Mexi-Cali was incredibly underwhelming; and only the Cordon Bleu weekly special was able to save the day with a crunchy piece of chicken wrapped in ham with delicious Gruyère cheese. However, don’t go to Velvet expecting to try the Cordon Bleu; as a weekly special, that last hope is long gone.

The Caledonian sent other contributors to try different dishes and most came to the same consensus: the food is nothing special. Though the tacos are fairly priced from $4.35 to $5.95 per item and the hours of operation are a great plus (11am-11pm, open to 12:00am Thursday-Saturday), the point of any restaurant is not the price or hours, it is the quality of the food. For those looking to be underwhelmed by flavorless tacos, though at a well-decorated and conveniently-located restaurant, do take some time to visit Velvet Taco’s location in The Woodlands.