Themes of the day: sun and booked.
This morning I visited with the Yakima Convention & Visitors Bureau and later hotel managers, restaurant owners, shopkeepers, and others… both in Yakima and Prosser. And everyone wanted to make sure the message is getting out: there is a lot of sun in eastern Washington, people! Typically 300 days each year. And in the summer, not only is there sun, but there is heat. Nice, dry heat. So for those on the west-side, who are starved for both by June, Washington wine country is a great option. I also received an important reminder from Pam at Yakima’s Visitor Center: you don’t have to drink wine to enjoy the sun and the heat (how easy it is to forget!). Outside of wine travel, agricultural tourism and outdoor activities are other popular draws to the area. (Consider WAW9 a resource.)
But with that encouragement comes a warning: some of the most desirable places to stay are filling up! I know I’ve mentioned this before, and you might have thought it sounded like a hollow threat at the time. But a few innkeepers told me that summer weekends are nearly booked. No time like the present to reserve a weekend or to pick a few days this summer to pencil yourself out mid-week!
Finally, on to simple pleasures: Taco Loco.
I have been to Yakima many times. Early on, I was told by locals that Taco Loco, a small Mexican restaurant in downtown Yakima, was worth a stop. It is only open for lunch Monday thru Friday and somehow I have managed to miss my opportunity to try it every time I have been in town. Until today. Now I will do everything I can not to miss it again.
Yakima has a lot of Mexican food. I have tried a hand full of other places and have had mixed results. From the street, someone might mistake Taco Loco for just another fast food bomb. But when I walked in, and heard all the banter between the owner and customers, I knew there were a lot of faithful Taco Loco customers in town. After my first bite, the reason became obvious. If I could transfer the taste of the taco de carnitas de puerco (pork) over this blog, you would get in your car and drive across the pass – snow or no snow. If it weren’t for the scare with 737s, you might even hop on a plane. It was that good. Tender to the point it was almost buttery. But it wasn’t. It was just perfect. And the taco de carne azada (beef), while not as light was equally flavorful. 3 meat tacos for roughly $5.50. (I just realized this is the second pork taco I’ve gushed over in 3 posts – this is a coincidence, pork is not typically a staple of my diet. To make clear, at Geppetto’s the pork taco was notable for the secret sauce; at Taco Loco, the pork spoke for itself.)
Suffice to say, my travel research takes me to all sorts of restaurants, from those that charge $5.50 for a meal, to others that charge $55.50 (this is not Napa, it’s hard to spend more than that per person, without wine, in Washington wine country). If you’re like me, you take great pleasure in experiencing these local gems, but like to clean up and enjoy fine dining experiences, too. Whatever your preference, I aim to be useful to you.
Join me tomorrow as I stop on Red Mountain and in the Tri-Cities, arriving in Walla Walla in the evening.