BELLEVUE, Wash. — They gather under the green glow of the cactus. Grab some soft tacos. And then their mics. It’s the first time the Talkin’ Taco Time podcast has recorded an episode physically together since the pandemic began. Tonight, they’re recording episode 30 at the Taco Time in Factoria, because it stays open until 8 p.m.
Talkin' Taco Time is exactly that — four Seattle friends talking about Taco Time, the PNW franchise that started in 1962 in White Center. The show is not sponsored by its subject. These guys are just into the subject.
"My Taco Time background is it was my first job when I was 16,” said Chris Smith, who’s the group’s detail guy — he knows everything about what goes on behind the counter. He showed up for tonight's recording in a vintage Taco Time beanie he scored online.
"My area of expertise is the vast network of the 79 Taco Time locations and I'm on a quest to visit all 79,” said Randy Coté, who initially did field reporting for the podcast, but now has a seat at the table with the other hosts. "I was in a Taco Time commercial."
Kevin Pelton is the host. He and his brother Tristan Carosino have recorded 'The Fabulous Peltoncast' about Seattle sports and food since 2013. About five years ago, they went on a taco tangent.
“Summer of 2018 we were doing a search for Seattle’s best taco or burrito and there's always the local chain that's a favorite that we talk about as part of that search, and we did Taco Time Northwest,” Pelton said. “The reaction to that convinced us there's actually an idea here, this might be something as far as a spinoff podcast.”
"This isn't big picture," Carosino said. "We're getting down into the minutia of Taco Time."
The local chain inspires devotion — and debate. We experienced it here at Evening when they won Best Taco in our 2022 Best of Western Washington viewers poll. Even though viewers voted for it, other viewers argued it wasn't authentic.
Chris Smith has this message for the haters.
"It's NOT real Mexican food. Nobody's trying to be real Mexican food at Taco Time. I'll leave it at that.”
The podcast they’re recording tonight mentions the recent return of a cult favorite menu item — the also not-authentic Taco Burger. And the cast (who all stood in front of the cash register and ordered on the app, which we thought was hilarious) shared some of their go-to menu hacks, from ordering pumpkin seeds and white corn salsa on the side, to stuffing standard issue soft tacos with ‘tater fries’ — deep fried tater tots that used to be named Mexi-Fries. The restaurant recently changed the name, and yes, TTT recorded an "emergency pod" about that.
Whether you want to learn more about the name change, or what wine to pair with your crisp chicken taco, grab a bag of this authentic Northwest fast food and give this podcast a listen.
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