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Regional Foods Week: Iowa and Taco Pizza

We turn a simple Twitter request into a week of content. Maybe. And we start with an OTE classic: Arguing about stupid shit Iowa does.

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This is happening.

Let no one say we at Off Tackle Empire don’t hear the demands of the people.

As your Big Ten Lifestyle Blog, we are obligated to answer. As an SBNation shill, we are obligated to pretend it’s part of something greater.

Introducing: Regional Foods Week


Pork tenderloin?

Taco pizza?

Now that we have your full and undivided attention, we shall continue.

What is taco pizza?

Invented in the 1970s by Joe Whitty of Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlors in the Quad Cities, the taco pizza blends two things you didn’t know needed to be blended.

Let’s let the Iowan (and neighboring states) take it from here:

Stewmonkey13: Ok, pizza crust, thin, taco sauce instead of tomato sauce. Taco meat, chicken or beef. And taco cheese.

The pizza cook should just be crust, sauce, meat, cheese.

Jesse Collins: Beef, taco sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, side of sour cream.

I remember the beginning of taco pizza for most Midwesterners was school lunch. It was always like an octagon personal pizza with terrible taco sauce, sketchy ground beef, and cheese-adjacent cheese product. Always slathered watery salsa, half frozen sour cream, lettuce, and ranch on top.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: Seasoned taco meat is huge.

If lettuce and tomatoes need to be on it, they need to be added after it’s been cooked:
1) The cool veggies add nice contrast, and
2) cooked lettuce is an affront to God.

Stew: Lettuce, fresh diced tomatoes, and chips on after cook. WSR is correct. Do them on the side for people to add as they desire.

Those ingredients on the side are key because then you preserve the ability for leftovers.

Creighton M: You people are monsters. Lettuce should never touch a pizza.

GospelOfMax: It’s an affront to pizzas everywhere. Even pineapple pizza, fruit pizza, and St. Louis pizza look down on taco pizza with a look of disdain and resentment usually reserved only for Nebraskans.

Most importantly, the only tacos that matter have four key ingredients: tortilla, meat, onion, and cilantro. get this Taco Bell lookin ass “pizza” out of here, pal.

MNW note: Welcome former BHGP dilettante and tremendous slouch GospelOfMax (sonofgospel) to OTE! He’ll be popping in once in a while with spicy (like Mexico spicy, not “pepper on your mac-and-cheese” spicy) takes. This is quite an introduction! it good?

Stew: Hand to god I had no idea taco pizza was a Midwest thing until my parents moved to Kentucky, and they HAD to get some taco pizza every time they came back.

But I’m a bad Iowan and don’t really care for it. But the key is the crunchy chips on top.

WSR: Taco pizza is far more incredible than it has any right to be.

Creighton M: I love tacos. I love pizza. The hybrid of the two is an unholy abomination. Oh no, it me: the only Iowan who hates taco pizza.

Here are the things I specifically don’t like:
(There are many recipes that do things differently; these are what turned me off in the first place)

  • Chips should be added after cooking, not before. When you add them before it gets soggy and not crunchy
  • Lettuce is such a terrible choice as a pizza topping
  • Ditto for refried beans
  • Pizza is the ultimate leftover food. I have never met a slice of taco pizza that approaches being edible by either eating it cold or after attempting to reheat it

GospelOfMax: Yeah no taco pizza is a disaster. If I wanted to consume salsa, Doritos, tomatoes, ground beef, and way too much lettuce at the same time, I would simply make a walking taco.

So...where do you get it?

Jesse: Godfather’s taco pizza is sorta good. Not, must have it good but also not bad if it’s available and probably as good as the rest of Godfather’s.

Casey’s taco pizza is better than it has any right to be.

It was—as I remember—good? I’m guessing the Godfather’s version—and Casey’s—couldn’t be worse which really makes sense of all of this.

Stew: Happy Joe’s is the OG.

WSR: Ole Piper, a small bar & restaurant south of the river, has awesome everything. Their taco pizza is outstanding.

For the record, I’ve heard good things about Pizza Ranch taco pizza, but I only go to Pizza Ranch for the fried chicken.

Creighton M: It was a staple of school lunches growing up. I’ve also had it in the original Happy Joe’s. The Happy Joe’s variety seems to be the most edible, but dude it’s not something I’m ever going to order for myself. While I’m burning Iowan bridges, Casey’s pizza sucks, taco or otherwise, and if you live in Iowa City (or any college town) there are way better choices. I get it if you live in like Riverside or Hills and it’s the only game in town, but come on.

GospelOfMax: You shouldn’t.

Oh, and you had takes:


Taco pizza: Yes or no?

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    (114 votes)
  • 48%
    What the hell are you thinking, Iowa?
    (106 votes)
220 votes total Vote Now


Where do you go for taco pizza?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Happy Joe’s or nothing.
    (25 votes)
  • 18%
    Casey’s for my taco pizza on the go
    (33 votes)
  • 11%
    Godfather’s, as I am Iowa, the Honorable Mention of the Big Ten
    (20 votes)
  • 1%
    Actually, those octagonal taco pizzas weren’t bad...
    (2 votes)
  • 14%
    I make homemade artisanal taco pizza, as I am a New York Times writer here to ruin regional delicacies
    (25 votes)
  • 30%
    Taco pizza is disgusting and I would never
    (53 votes)
  • 9%
    Some other regional chain I’ll tell you about in the comments
    (17 votes)
175 votes total Vote Now