{better than taco john’s} taco bravos

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For my first “real” job, I worked at a bakery in Minneapolis called Bosa Doughnuts. I’ll never forget that summer. I worked long hours (for a 15 year old) and spent almost every penny I made on clothes and cassette tapes. Do you remember your first job?

My second job was also a summer job, and I worked at Taco John’s. I hated every minute of it. We had to wear brown polyester uniforms and I returned home every evening smelling like a burrito. The one silver lining was the discount we got on food while we were working. I ADORED their taco salads (with that awesome dressing!) The potato oles were a revelation (the next time you order them get a side of sour cream and a bunch of hot sauce to dunk them in. Heaven!) Another favorite were the Taco Bravos. Ever had one? Well, if you have, you totally know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you have to either get yourself to the closest Taco John’s you can find, or try my recipe. I personally like to make them at home so I can control the salt content and add as much cheese as I want. I enjoy freshly made pico de gallo instead of jarred salsa too. Tweak the recipe to suit your tastes.

What is a Taco Bravo? It’s a soft shell flour tortilla with refried beans spread on it, wrapped around a hard shell beef taco. Genius idea! Ready?

for 10 Taco Bravos:

~ serves 5 people, 2 tacos each ~

10 soft shell flour tortillas (taco sized)

10 hardshell corn taco shells

2 (15 oz.) cans refried beans (I like vegetarian, low sodium) you may have extra

2 lb. lean ground beef

1 Tablespoon cumin

2 Tablespoons mild chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

salt and pepper to taste

10 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

shredded lettuce

chopped tomato

chopped onion

sour cream


hot sauce

Cook the ground beef in a skillet until no longer pink and hot all the way through. While the meat cooks, mix in the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cover until ready to serve.

Empty cans of refried beans into a saucepan. Heat on low, stirring frequently, until heated through. Cover until ready to serve.

Heat soft shell tortillas and corn taco shells according to package directions.

Line up heated flour tortillas and divide the refried beans evenly between them. Spread the beans on the flour tortillas with the back of a spoon. Carefully wrap each prepared flour tortilla around the warmed hardshell taco shells. Fill tacos with beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream and hot sauce. Serve immediately.



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  8 comments for “{better than taco john’s} taco bravos

  1. dianne
    January 18, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    I have looked forever for the recipe for that awesome salad dressing, can’t find it anywhere. You don’t remember the recipe by any chance?

    • Melissa
      January 19, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Dianne! 🙂
      I do remember the recipe… It’s equal parts mild salsa and thousand island dressing. Hope that helps! ~M

      • Dianne
        January 19, 2016 at 12:47 pm

        Thank you so much, I had given up hope. Will need to hit the store and try this ASAP. Cant wait!

        • Melissa
          January 21, 2016 at 5:58 pm

          Enjoy! 🙂

  2. Kallie
    November 30, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Holy crapshoot!!! I can’t believe I finally found the holy grail of taco recipes. I miss having a taco Johns around!!! My favorite was always the super potato ole! What kind of guacamole did they use or did they actually make it?

    • Melissa
      November 30, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      LOL, Kallie! 🙂
      Your comment cracked me up and made my day! If I recall correctly, I believe Taco John’s had their guac shipped from a food company (like Cisco.) Not sure though. I always just make my own. It’s best when it’s as fresh as possible IMO. XOXO ~M

  3. Robyn
    February 4, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    My first job was also a bakery but not as classy, It was “SuperMom’s Deli” when they used to have them at the back of the SuperAmerica store. I tried to work at Hardee’s, but lasted all of two days in their attractive polyester orange & brown uniform. When I quit the manager told me I wouldn’t get my paycheck until I returned that lovely uniform. (That paycheck was a whopping $13, btw hehe.) Now for the Taco Bravo, when I worked in a dental office in downtown St. Cloud I would walk a block to the Taco John’s and order an “all-beef” taco bravo with no refried beans or their Taco Salad for lunch both were fantastic.

    • Melissa
      February 5, 2018 at 3:38 pm

      YUM! Now I want some Taco John’s! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, Robyn!

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