Let me preface this by saying, this review is a few weeks old. When I heard a place that served something called “pizza tacos” was coming to town, I was enthralled. No, I was ecstatic! I needed to know what a pizza taco was, and whether they were served into the wee hours of the morning. Well, fellow over-eaters who are barreling into this new year, I’m here to tell you a pizza taco is pizza dough with pizza toppings and lettuce, folded in half like a taco. I feel like this would be the perfect food to eat walking home from a bar. I wish Wichita were compact enough to walk from a bar to Charlie’s Pizza Taco and then home. Alas, I’m not in that good of shape, and a 15 mile hike in heels? Yowsa. I would know. I walked a measly 2 or 3 miles from old town to Maple and Meridian once. I’m not too proud to admit I thought the clock at Douglas and Seneca was the Friends clock. But that’s a story for another day (and another blog).
Me: Are you a pizza? Are you a taco? I don’t understand.
Pizza Taco: Does it matter? Why does everyone have to define me, understand me? I’m a hipster food. You clearly don’t get it.
Me: Can we agree to disagree?
Pizza Taco: I’m void of emotions. So whatever. I don’t care.
Pizza Taco: But we can agree I’m unique and interesting, right?
Me: We can agree you’re needy and use your uniqueness as a way to pretend you shun social norms and rebel. But all it proves you need our approval and love.
Pizza Taco: Fair enough.
So I guess the space Charlie’s Pizza Taco in has housed lots of other restaurants. I’ll admit, I’m new to the west side, and when I came west before, I tried to avoid the “inner west side.” Mostly because, it’s true, almost everything on the west side is offered on the east side and more. Hey, I moved west. It’s fair to be honest. But, I have to say, I actually noticed the sign for this place while driving. And I’d never noticed a sign for any former store. Plus, pizza tacos. PIZZA TACOS. Seriously. How can someone NOT be intrigued? My point, I guess, if I have one (I often don’t), is hopefully their signage will help give them visibility.
Alright, moving on. Here’s how this place works, kids: You order at the counter. There’s even a salad bar right there at the counter. For some reason I assumed they put your salad together (similar to what they do at Doc Green’s), but Lyndsey ordered a salad and she was able to make her own. BONUS! And the salad bar looked DELICIOUS, by the way. My biggest pizza taco adventure regret? Not getting a salad. Hey, we’re allowed to have regrets as long as we right them, right? So I’ll definitely be back to tackle that bad boy.
There was a limited menu to choose from. I personally don’t mind this as 25+ page menus intimidate me. I’m very indecisive. In this case, though, even if there were a thousand options, I was getting a pizza taco, dang it. I ordered it “hot.” Because, well, I love spicy. More on this later. If I don’t come back to spicy, remind me.
Lyndsey ordered lasagna (and the aforementioned salad). There’s a little counter to pick up your drinks and get silverware. It’s similar to Gambino’s in Colwich, only with more of a fast food feel because they use plastic utensils. But the dining area itself is big enough and decorated very nicely. The staff was all very friendly, and we even had someone (I assume an owner or manager) check on us a few times asking us how everything was, if we were satisfied, and if he could get us more drinks. POINT Charlie’s Pizza Taco.
The food itself. First, Lyndsey said her lasagna was bland. When I looked at it, it looked like it was possibly frozen lasagna that was portioned out and topped with pizza cheese. I don’t particularly have a problem with this, and know other successful businesses (no names will be mentioned to protect successful business practices) who do the same thing. But if you have a grandma who cooks like Lyndsey’s, you will probably be disappointed. My pizza taco was good. I’d give it a solid B+. And I’m not too ashamed to admit I ate the WHOLE THING. It was definitely big enough for two servings. But I was hungry. And, well, I have very little self-control around pizza. Or tacos. Or pizza tacos, apparently.
Now, back to the hot sauce. There was none. I heard later you’re supposed to get a side of sauce with your pizza taco. I got none. The meat used (I think you could choose beef or sausage, I don’t remember specifying which I wanted) was similar to the meat used at Gambino’s or Po Boy. So that worked for me. The lettuce was fresh (not brown or slimy as some restaurants tend to serve, especially in colder months – ew). And the whole thing was topped/filled generously. The crust was thin, but not too thin. And I think if I had had that hot sauce, I could have had the real pizza taco experience. As it stood I said, “Huh. It’s like a pizza with lettuce, folded in half. Kind of like a taco pizza but no taco sauce or tomatoes.” I definitely can live without tomatoes, so I really wish I’d gotten the taco sauce.
I also noticed on the sign something about taking pizza tacos to go. It sounded like you take them home and bake them. But I have no idea if that’s true or not. I glanced at it and thought of Papa Murphy’s.
All in all it was a good experience. Like I said, I’ll definitely go back to try the salad bar. And I want my pizza taco with sauce this time! Plus, the staff was so friendly. It reminded me of a small town restaurant. That’s definitely a good vibe. It seems most times I go into a new restaurant, greeted by abysmal service. Either unaware of what’s on the menu, unfriendly, or uninterested in helping you make choices.
Oh, plus, I think having a beer with my pizza taco might tie my whole life together. Hey, I’m just saying. My life is full of low-lying dreams.
Plus, I’d kind of like to try a few other items on their menu. It will be a diet-saster if I love lots of things. So rather than being an occasional craving, it’ll be a once a week visit. Good luck Charlie’s Pizza Taco. I’d love to be a regular!
Lyndsey’s less-than-stellar lasagna. I’m not discounting it being good. But it likely won’t rival homemade.
The infamous pizza taco. Yum. I need another one. Soon!