Fuzzy’s Taco Shop will try what three previous restaurants before them could not -- succeed at the corner of O Street and Centennial Mall.
The chain, with ownership based in Texas, opened Sept. 21 in the spot once occupied by Taco Bueno, D’Leon’s and a Vietnamese sandwich shop.
It specializes in Baja-style Mexican food, meaning fish tacos are a big part of the menu.
The original Fuzzy’s opened in 2001 on Berry Street in Fort Worth, Texas. The owner put it up for sale after just two years.
That’s when father-and-son Alan and Chuck Bush stepped in and used their combined 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry to turn Fuzzy’s around. Today, there are more than 40 corporate-owned and franchise locations across seven states.
Fuzzy’s concept is fast-casual. Customers order at the counter, receive a number and find a seat while entrees are assembled in the kitchen. Orders are picked up at the window when the number is called.
Reaction to Fuzzy’s food was mixed.
Two of my co-workers loved the tacos ($1.99), which can be ordered soft or crispy. They are filled with choice of meat, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, cilantro, feta and garlic sauce. They said the feta and garlic sauce are what set them apart from tacos elsewhere.
A customer favorite has been the crawfish taco. Management told me the fish and shrimp -- grilled or tempura -- have been popular as well.
I was lukewarm to the jumbo burrito I had ($5.99). It is different from those found at Chipotle or Oso Burrito, because it contains several “cold” ingredients, such as lettuce, onions, tomatoes, shredded cheese, guacamole and garlic sauce to go along with the “hot” meats. I had the tempura fish.
Unlike burritos at the other places, these don’t contain rice or beans, but management said they can be added or substituted. That’s nice to know.
I enjoyed the grilled sandwich or torta on my second visit. I had shredded beef ($5.99), which included lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shredded cheese and garlic sauce on Teleras bread. It came with a side of Latin fried potatoes (spicy hash browns). The torta was as good as those I’ve enjoyed at other Mexican restaurants. Grade: B
The chain has put some money into the site. The restaurant features two distinct areas. The dining room, accessed from O Street, is huge, with seating for 70 in booths or tables. The tables are bright yellow with either the “Eat Me!” shark or chili pepper logos on them.
There are six high-definition TVs lining walls filled beer and neon signs. The two soda dispensers are different from most because of their touch screens.
In the back is a bar, with its own access on Centennial Mall. Here you will find more tables and five more high-def TVs as well as a 15-foot Great White shark hanging from the ceiling. Grade: B+
General manager Dave Hofer, who moved to Lincoln from Texas to open Fuzzy’s, told me the goal is six minutes or less to get food to the pick-up windows.
“Sometimes it takes a little longer during busy times when the kitchen gets slammed, but six minutes is the goal,” he said.
On my two lunch visits, Fuzzy’s hit the mark. Of course, you’re on your own for everything else. There are stations for beverages, sauces and napkins.
You can order alcohol at the food counter, where you will receive a ticket to pick it up at the back bar. That’s a bit inconvenient. Grade: C+
Each portion of the menu -- salad, sandwiches, burritos, etc. -- includes a grilled vegetarian option. The breakfast menu features several nonmeat items as do many of the appetizers. Side dishes include fried rice, cilantro-lime rice, Latin fried potatoes and borracho, and black and refried beans. Grade: B