Taco John's
1072 Spring Hill Mall, Dundee, IL, USA

"You do it to yourself, and that's why it really hurts." - Radiohead

It's so so true, Thom. So here I am driving 20+ minutes from work at lunchtime to find the nearest Taco John's, erroneously believing it to be on Dundee Road, not in Dundee the friggin' town, and following less-than-optimal online directions.

The last place I wanted to be today was at a suburban mall food court, but there I was, along with a blue-collar contingent dragging their kids behind, who themselves were dragging the summer out as long as they could. Eh, who can blame any of 'em.

My recollection of Taco John's is about the same as the Happy Mondays … I vaguely remember owning one of their CDs, but … wait, that analogy isn't gonna come close. Well, I remember people TALKING about Taco John's back in the day, but I don't recall anyone actually EATING there.

And so be it. I immediately feel sorry for the two women working behind the counter: one ringing, the other creating. Hopefully someone was in the back helping with the dishes. Seriously.

I should've ordered a standard taco meal, but instead I tried their new "Crispy Chicken & Potato Burrito" combo meal or something. Not unlike introducing a youngster to Aerosmith by playing some random recent Aerosmith one-off soundtrack contribution, and saying "Dude, now THIS is Aerosmith." Wait, maybe it is. Dude, what's happened to my analogy skillz, anyway? Yuck … best just get on with it.

A glance at the visual menu immediately reveals an unhealthy love of melted nacho cheese, including its use on my chicken burrito. Ugh. But Taco John's real coup de grace is their use of potato rounds as a side. When I was 18, I welcomed these with open arms. Now I feel like they should hand me a side of astringent pads and a colonic with my meal.

The burrito itself wasn't too bad, although I had trouble looking at it. That combination of hazy yellow and chicken was unsettling. The potato rounds did their duty, but the Mr Pibb was beyond flat and had barely any flavor, although I can possibly blame that on this lingering metallic taste in my mouth recently … I think one of my fillings is slowly treating me to a randy case of mercury poisoning. That, or my excessive use lately of peppermint foot lotion on multiple parts of my body.

I gulped the food as quickly as I could, getting occasional, mildly angry glances from a nearby construction worker. Or at least I THOUGHT he was a construction worker. The food court was loud, kinda dark, and played no overhead music whatsoever. I read a Stax box set review in the MOJO I brought along, and headed out of Dodge ASAP, which started me on a fierce anti-suburbs/pro-No Logo rant, until I found a Gap four stores down and bought a nifty new belt clearanced for $4.99.

To cap the event, God provided a thunderstorm upon my return to the parking lot. Fitting.

Review by Bradley A. Milton, August 2003