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10 awesome tacos in Tacoma

Happy hour tacos, Taco Tuesday tacos and everyday tacos

Maxwell's happy hour fish taco recipe is included in A Taste of Washington cookbook. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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Have you ever noticed how Tacoman reads like "Taco Man" to non-natives? It's a little silly, but really, everyone loves some tacos, so I tend not to correct them. This "Taco Man" character would be one popular fella. It only seems natural, then, that Tacoman diners would partake in the taco admiration. All of this thinking set me off on a journey to find Tacoma tacos. Here are some delectable nibbles I discovered from Taco Tuesdays to happy hour and every day: 

Matador seemed like a natural start with its Tex-Mex menu and killer happy hour nibbles. Steak, chicken, braised pork, chorizo and blackened fish or shrimp can all be found for a steal ($5) during traditional happy hour time slots. Though the Texas-sized nachos have always garnered loads of attention, the tacos are nothing to scoff at - they're loaded with marinated meats and other accompaniments depending on selection, and all perfectly paired with any one of the 100+ tequilas that line the shelves. 721 Pacific Ave., 253.627.7100

Top of Tacoma Bar and Café has no less than seven, yeah, you read that right, seven delectable taco varieties. Nosh on crisp pork belly paired with an apple-cabbage-cherry slaw, or the vegetarian-friendly chipotle field roast tacos with lettuce, cheese, house-spiced crema and fresh salsa. All of them will have you hollering, uno mas por favor, especially during Taco Thursday, when all tacos are 50 percent off. 3529 McKinley Ave., 253.272.1502

Smoked pork, roasted steak, blackened rockfish and fried oysters all set the stage for The Social Bar and Grill's delicious taco trios.  Onion, cilantro, jalapeño, radish and yogurt slaw top it all off, and the generous happy hour $5 ticket price includes a side of amazing black bean and quinoa salad. Can't beat the deal, and with sunny days making an early appearance, the fire table-adorned patio is unmatched by most. 1715 Dock St., 253.301.3835

Known for its innovative and compelling flavor concoctions, Hilltop Kitchen really delivers a unique taco experience. Cinnamon, chipotle and allspice-braised boar, chicken or rabbit paired with candied pecans and vegetarian-friendly types like yam, broccoli and beetroot, with a hibiscus ancho salsa, grace the taco selection. It's a journey through flavortown for the more adventurous of spirit. 913 Martin Luther King Way, 253.327.1397

Pacific Grill has a featured taco of the day every happy hour and delivers flawless, flavorful dishes across the board. Ask the bartender and get some of that in your belly. 1502 Pacific Ave., 253.627.3535

Maxwell's Restaurant and Lounge features a $4 happy hour fish taco that will change from time to time and include the catch of the day, but most often salmon is the star player. The recipe was included in a local cookbook, which ought to be a testament to just how delicious it truly is. 454 Saint Helen's Avenue, 253.683.4115

South Tacoma's Moctezuma's walked home champs of the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Tacos, in 2010 and is still aces when it comes to this handheld treat. Its beer battered mahi mahi is my favorite of the selection. But there's loads of diversity to be had, with garnishes almost always including onions and cilantro and sometimes including avocado, grilled pineapple and cheese - all creating compelling flavor combos with each handheld treat. 4102 South 56th St., 253.474.5593

Masa is another go-to for a fabulous tequila selection paired with traditional street tacos. Carne asado, tinga chicken, smoked pork and baja fish accompanied by fajita veggies, cabbage and radish. Pop in late if you like your tacos served with a side of nightclub vibe. 2811 Sixth Ave., 253.254.0560

El Toro is the epitome of the chips and salsa, quick-fix-for-your-Mexican-fare hankering establishment. The street-style tacos are dang good, too, and the deal can't be beat with chicken and steak tacos available for a cool four bucks for four tacos. Dollar tacos delivering loads of flavor, muy bueno. 5716 N. 26th St., 253.759.7889

Happy Belly is aptly named, with a refreshing, delectable menu that is uber friendly for those with dietary restrictions or those just looking to make good dining choices. It celebrates Taco Tuesdays by giving you a buck off of its tasty mushroom, pear and black bean tacos. Uber fresh and full of flavor. 1122 Market St., 253.365.6706

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