A Slice of Fried Gold

General Bracket #1: (4) Benny's Food Wagon vs. (5) Taco King

Wednesday, March 10, 2010
This has been one of the fiercest debates of my life amongst my friends: Benny's or Taco King? I've long belonged to Team Benny's, as I've been "eating it since (I) was in the womb" as my mom used to say, but have the years of Taco King love split the difference and made me a disciple of the King Burrito and the Queen Tostada? Let's check the tale of the tape and find out!

Benny's Food Wagon: This is the most endearingly unassuming restaurant in all of Anchorage, hiding off Northern Lights across from Taco Bell and Sweet Basil Cafe and serving a small but well crafted menu of classic Mexican treats at very affordable prices. My go-to meal is the Burrito Special, which comes with two chimichangas and a side of rice and beans (and lettuce!). I've been eating it for pretty much the entirety of my existence, and it comes as ingrained into my persona as anything I've ever eaten.

But I have to admit...it has fallen off since it moved away from its old location where Embassy Suites is now. They lost their old cook who made the rice as delicious as any I'd ever tasted, and they have long been trying to recreate the magic. While all of the other elements are mostly the same, with the rice being such an intregal part (somehow becoming my favorite aspect in later years) the once mighty Benny's has taken an epic downturn. Even the old stand-by employees that worked there have been replaced with late teens girls - very disappointing. But it still is met with a deep sense of nostalgia and esteem, and I will likely eat there for as long as I live in Anchorage.

Taco King: I always held strong against its charms, but the authentic(ish) menu and inexpensive meals eventually won me over. Taco King is a place that has something for everyone, and in a city that is so dreadful when it comes to Mexican food it is nice to have some guaranteed delicious in the town. Whether you're looking for guaranteed awesome from the very filling King Burrito or the epic-in-its-tastiness Queen Tostada, or perhaps something a bit more sweet like buñuelos or fried ice cream, this is the place for you.

It also has a number of locations placed very strategically across town (off Tudor down by the police station, off Huffman, and off A St. and Northern Lights), and the service is always superb, with the employees being extremely friendly. Plus, they deliver now!

The Showdown: As much as it shames me to admit it, Taco King takes Benny's down now. If this was 2004, it'd be Benny's by a landslide, but the mighty have fallen and the King has risen. If Benny's ever fixed their rice and brought back some of the charm that has seemingly been misplaced, I'd revisit this showdown. But as of now, the once and future King of Anchorage Mexican is here to stay.


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