In this, the third year of Orlando Taco Week, diners can chomp their way through Central Florida indulging in delicious $5 taco treats for two weeks straight. And those two weeks happen to encompass a trio of significant dates: 4/20, May the 4th, and the ultimate taco day, Cinco de Mayo! The promotion launches on April 20 (4/20), which also happens to be a Taco Tuesday, and will run continuously for 15 days, through May 4, aka Star Wars fan holiday May the 4th (which is another Taco Tuesday!). Finally, restaurants who choose to prolong the promotion will offer Taco Week deals on Cinco de Mayo: Wednesday, May 5.
“We had always flirted with the idea of Taco Week coinciding with Cinco, but for logistic reasons, we never made that happen. Due to cancelled events, we were finally able to schedule it leading into Cinco de Mayo!” said Graham Jarrett, creator of Orlando Taco Week and publisher of Orlando Weekly, which produces the promotion. “In addition to the Cinco tie-in, those who find cult-like significance in April 4th or ‘420’ and ‘May the 4th’ can kick off and end their two-week taco binge on those dates respectively. Oh, and did we mention they’re both Tuesdays, every week’s official taco day?”
Ultimately, the promotion serves two purposes. It brings paying customers into restaurants — which many restaurants need now more than ever — and it showcases the rich culinary diversity of our city to its residents at a very low cost to them, allowing them to try different restaurants and get a feel for what they do, their flavors, quality, service and ambience.
“Orlando Taco Week was so successful for us in 2020, we’re definitely back in,” said Ashley Germano of American Social, a beautifully appointed new restaurant and bar on Sand Lake Road. “We had only been open for a year, much of which was spent doing takeout only, due to COVID. This drove new customers in to try us, and we’ve seen many of them come back.”
This year veteran Taco Week restaurants, including Orlando Meats and Jimmy Hula’s, will be joined by first-timers Tin & Taco and Alex’s Fresh Kitchen (who won “Orlando’s Most Awesome Burger” in Orlando Burger Week 2020). Once again, diners are encouraged to check in with their Taco Week passports when eating at each restaurant and post to social media for chances to win great prizes, including gift certificates to the participating restaurants and a private taco party at Publix Aprons Cooking School.
Orlando Taco Week was established first in 2019, following the explosion of gourmet tacos in the city, which spurred the New York Times to declare that “Tacos have hijacked the Orlando culinary scene.” Now tacos, from the traditional to the extraordinary, showcase a diverse array of Central Florida cuisines. That means diners can expect a healthy dose of handhelds based in the Mexican tradition, as well as many paying homage to our rich Southern, Asian and non-Mexican Latin American cultures.
This year, restaurants are being encouraged to add more tacos at regular prices as well as side dishes, in addition to their $5 taco special, to their Taco Week menus. This encourages diners to explore more of the menu, and helps support the restaurants that are offering these delicious and amazing deals. Additionally, restaurants are encouraged to feature drinks from sponsors Chihuahua Cerveza, Don Julio Tequila and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
“Many restaurants, just like Orlando Weekly, have been hit very hard by the pandemic. Taco Week is a way we can work together to do what we do for our customers, gain some new customers and create business and revenue for one another,” remarked Miranda Hodge, who manages the promotion. Hodge knows all too well the financial impact of the pandemic. She was furloughed from Orlando Weekly in March 2020, and spent the rest of the year out of work until being rehired in January of this year. “I’m in charge of signing up and working with all the restaurants and making sure that we execute all the marketing and work with all our partners to maximize the impact of the promotion for the restaurants. This is what we know how to do! And the restaurants do what they know how to do, which is serve customers great food!”
In 2020, deep in the throes of the pandemic and a contentious and heated national election cycle, 33 restaurants came together for Orlando Taco Week, and the promotion was surprisingly as strong as it had been in 2019, its inaugural year. OrlandoTacoWeek.com, the promotional website, which is used only for the two-week promotion, received nearly a quarter-million pageviews, a testament to the scope and widespread popularity of the promotion.
Last year a takeout option was added in response to COVID, with a $5 surcharge added to each takeout order total, which will be the case again this year. The surcharge helps cover the costs of takeout supplies and pay for non-tip-earning staff to fulfill orders. It also compensates for the loss of spontaneous upsells, such as drinks, appetizers and desserts, which restaurants depend on to make these discount promotions work for them.
Orlando Weekly began exposing Central Floridians to creative local cuisine and supporting local chefs and restaurants decades ago with weekly dining reviews in its print edition. Over the years, that has expanded, as Orlando Weekly now shares more local food and restaurant news than any other media outlet in Central Florida through daily blogs, social media and paid advertising. Orlando Weekly also produces more city-wide “foodie” promotions, including Bite30, Burger Week and Taco Week, all of which are designed to showcase local cuisine and drive paying customers into restaurants, as well as the popular food events Bite Night, United We Brunch, and Tacos and Tequila.
“We connect locals with the food being produced here and shine a light on all types of quality, creative, local cuisine. We understand and really like to show people that it doesn’t always have to be high-end to be high-quality.” commented Faiyaz Kara, Orlando Weekly’s longtime restaurant critic. “Our coverage, our events and our promotions showcase it all, from all across the board.”
The restaurants of Taco Week 2021 will soon be posted on orlandotacoweek.com, and any restaurants interested in participating should complete this form.
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