Think you know who makes the best tacos in the downtown Pasco area?
A group of “taco-loving community volunteers” is inviting Tri-Citians to taste their way through 20 of Pasco’s taco trucks and restaurants.
In the end, one business will be bestowed the title, Best Taco in Pasco.
But along the way, Craig Maloney and his fellow committee members hope to draw attention and donations to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties.
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It is “taco crawling for a cause,” according to the website for the 2016 Pasco Taco Crawl.
Maloney, the taco crawler in chief of the six-member team, gave a presentation to the Pasco City Council on Monday about the first-ever event.
“We’re trying to give our community a road map to eat their way through tacos in downtown Pasco,” he said, noting that it encourages people to visit the core of the city.
Maloney said the group wasn’t asking for money from the city, just the council members’ support in buying tickets and attending.
“I’ll be honest, when I saw this I thought it was another running thing and I thought, ‘I’m not in,’” said Councilman Saul Martinez.
But when he realized it involved eating, Martinez joked that is right up his alley.
“I often visit these eating places anyway. I think it’s a great opportunity to get people to come downtown and see what you’re missing,” he said.
For $20, along with a $2.09 Eventbrite processing fee, participants will receive a booklet with 20 tear-off vouchers. Each voucher is good for one taco at a specific location.
But unlike your typical pub crawl, which usually takes place over one day, the Pasco Taco Crawl covers 16 days.
Once purchased online, the booklets will be available to pick up at the Pasco Specialty Kitchen, 110 S. Fourth Ave.
Then, between April 22 and May 7, the challenge is for participants to get through all 20 vouchers with an included map. The meat selection will be limited, with each establishment choosing what they want to serve.
“Twenty tacos is a lot. Not everyone is going to eat 20 tacos,” Maloney told the Herald. “I will be honest, I made a run of it in a day and six tacos was more than I needed to eat.”
Ballots to vote for the best taco will be due by 3 p.m. May 6, so the winner can be announced the following day at the Downtown Pasco Development Authority’s Cinco de Mayo Festival.
The establishments aren’t necessarily within downtown boundaries, but all are east of Highway 395 and north of the Columbia River.
“We tried to get a sampling of every type of business that we could to make sure we get a good representative sample,” Maloney said.
Mayor Matt Watkins said it is phenomenal they picked 20 distinct taco places throughout the downtown, adding he “wasn’t aware there were that many places.”
Councilwoman Rebecca Francik said she looks forward “to widening my horizons.”
Maloney said unity is one of the reasons the group is trying the taco crawl.
“A lot of people talk about the Tri-City’s lack of culture,” he said. “We absolutely have culture, it’s just not the culture that they’re expecting. Food is such a great way to experience culture.”
The event is organized by Mystic Party Solutions, “a group of local young professionals reimagining fundraising in the Tri-Cities,” the website said.
Maloney said he got the idea from a friend who did something similar in Tacoma.
Maloney, his wife Emily Maloney, aka “Mistress of Tacos,” and their friends then did a dry run visiting taco vendors last September. They whittled the establishments down to 20, and then found a nonprofit partner.
The Boys & Girls Clubs “really spoke to our hearts” as a nonprofit that means a lot to Pasco, he said.
When people buy a booklet online through the website’s link, they are asked if they want to make a donation to the organization that operates 12 club sites in the Mid-Columbia.
The select taco trucks and restaurants will be reimbursed out of the booklet sales based on the vouchers received. However, Maloney also anticipates they will have money left over from ticket purchases because not all crawl participants will use their 20 vouchers.
“The idea here is we’re not trying to interrupt their business plan,” he said. “They’re all small businesses. We want to support them, bring them the customer and let them do what they do best.”