Taco Tuesday lovers can unite for the weekend at HarborWalk Village’s sixth annual Tequila & Taco Fest in Destin.
Festivalgoers will enjoy unlimited tacos and drink tickets for tequila samples. Carlos Shaffran, the event founder, said it’s the second biggest event at HarborWalk Village, next to the Destin Seafood Festival.
“It’s a unique situation because tacos are so popular,” Shaffran said. “The fact that you have unlimited taco-eating — you can eat as much as you want, as many as you want, as long as you eat it in that four-hour period.”
The sixth annual Tequila & Taco Fest is 1-5 p.m. March 9 at HarborWalk Village, 10 Harbor Boulevard, Destin.
Brittany Byrd, the Emerald Grande director of marketing, said participating restaurants will prepare more than 60,000 tacos for this event. Some of this year’s eateries are Jackacudas Seafood + Sushi, Pepito's Mexican Restaurant, Boathouse Oyster Bar, Crab Island Cantina, Tienda La Mexicana and more, Byrd said.
People are creative with the tacos, Shaffran said. Shaffran cited Ron Green, the owner of The Beach House restaurant, as an example.
“He serves a really good taco,” Shaffran said. “He’s going to be using red fish for the event. That’s different. At Boathouse (Oyster Bar), they’re going with an oyster ceviche taco.”
Crab Island Cantina won’t participate in the competition, but it will provide beef cheek meat tacos, pork carnita tacos and beef tongue tacos in the VIP areas, Shaffran said.
Adrienne Brand, the director of operations and events for Bald & the Beard Restaurant Group, said Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi will participate for the sixth time.
“Between us and our sister restaurant, Brotula’s, we have participated every year with at least two booths, for the last six years — bringing home a total of five trophies,” Brand said. “I love the opportunity to meet so many locals and visitors who have never experienced Jackacudas. It gives us a chance to introduce ourselves and our passion for what we do to so many new people.”
The locally sourced, fresh ingredients and the time and passion the restaurant’s staff puts into make the components from scratch are what will set the restaurant apart in the competition, Brand said. The chefs cook on-site to provide fresh tacos throughout the event, she said.
“Chef Mike Delay always gets super creative with seasonal ingredients and brings new twists to some of your favorite classic flavors,” Brand said. “This year he is making adobo smoked carnitas tacos with a creamy salsa verde and topped with charred elote salsa.”
There will be many types of tacos, such as a variety of seafood, carnitas, chicken, beef and authentic Latin, Byrd said. Craft cocktails will include Camarena Watermelon Margarita, Dulce Vida Grapefruit-Paloma, Dulce Vida Pineapple-Jalapeno Margarita, Blue Nectar Sangria Margarita and more, she said.
Music will complement the tequila and tacos during the event. Friday will feature live music from Nashville-based Humming House at the Tapas & Tequila Party with Garden & Gun. The Luke Langford Band will perform Saturday on the Main Stage. The VIP areas will feature Myke Van Ness and DJs.
“Humming House is known for interacting and engaging with their audiences,” Byrd said. “Their set lists are musically diverse, offering acoustic strings-based Americana covers to powerful pop ballad covers like Justin Timberlake’s ‘My Love’ and Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody.’”
The Friday night kick-off party is new to this year’s event, Byrd said.
“This event will be lively, yet intimate,” Byrd said. “Highlights include mixologist demonstrations, small plates and interactive food stations, signature craft tequila cocktails featuring Corralejo tequila.”
The sixth annual event will also feature an additional VIP area so VIP ticketholders can enjoy a designated VIP area at each end of the festival. Each area features musical entertainment, exclusive food offerings and higher-end tequila brands such as Patron and Don Julio, Byrd said.
Shaffran’s favorite aspect of the festival is the camaraderie.
“My favorite part is to bring so many people together for a four-hour event and seeing the excitement and the involvement,” Shaffran said. “Some of the T-shirts they wear are hilarious. They literally come from all over the Southeast for the event.”
The event will also feature its signature $15 T-shirts with taco sayings: “I hate tacos said no Juan,” “If you are having a taco emergency call 9 Juan Juan” and "Taco ‘bout fun.”