With chefs all over the country pushing the limits, sore and more restaurants across the country are adding exotic dishes to their menus. But one place in Florida is pushing things to a whole new level with their wild tacos.
Taco Fusion began offering ‘safari’ tacos filled with fresh lion meat.
Lion’s share: The small tacos at Tampa’s Taco Fusion restaurant look enticing and many who try them say they are tasty
Safari tacos: It’s a varied menu at Taco Fusion
It hasn’t exactly been a roaring success. The offering has been mauled by animal lovers online.
Lip-smackingly good: Diners that have tried the $35 lion taco say it is worth the money
One person tweeted to the restaurants twitter account @TacoFusion ‘You people are disgusting. Shame on you for further destroying this environment,’ another wrote: ‘That is disgusting and disturbing!.’ ‘How dare you serve this,” Jennifer Rieger Hauck wrote on Taco Fusion’s Facebook page. ‘I truly hope your restaurant goes out of business very soon and you end up living on the street.’ Undeterred, Taco Fusion officials posted a reply to critics: ‘If you guys are mad now, just wait till you see what we do next.’
Lion is endangered but it’s legal to sell and eat in the United States. The restaurant says its lion meat came from a reputable vendor in Illinois. The lion meat doesn’t come cheap. At $225 per pound each taco is on the menu for $35. Taco Fusion’s manager Brad Barnett advised those who opposed the item not to eat it. ‘Our whole thought process of bringing the exotic meats to the Tampa Bay area was to give people the opportunity to try different things that they normally wouldn’t get to try,’ says Brad. We feature unique one of a kind items that can’t be found anywhere,” the restaurant, which is in Florida, says on its website.
Manager Brad Barnett’s Advice: ‘If you don’t like it, don’t eat it!’
King of tacos: Herds of folks on the hunt for lion
‘In America, we’ve long since been under the spell of the Beef, poultry, and pork industries,’ the restaurants website reads.
‘From titans like McDonald’s, to chicken joints like Chik-Fil-A, our choices have been incredibly limited as Americans- and even our possibilities for what is acceptable from a culinary standpoint.’
Jeff Kremer from Big Cat Rescue that rescues lions and similar large cats, questioned Taco Fusion’s decision. ‘There is obviously an animal welfare concern and there is a bigger picture. The bigger concern is where do we, as society, draw the line for what is acceptable for moral and ethical behavior,’ Kremer said. ‘Restaurants will do this to just draw attention, for the novelty. It’s just a disgrace in my opinion.’
Frank Consoli went there for lunch: ‘It’s a bit tougher than steak,’ he said after taking his first bite while sitting on the veranda. ‘Roughly as chewy as a flank steak,’ he said, ‘with a powerful red-meat flavor and a strong ‘gamey’ finish.
Mixed response: Online not everyone shares Taco Fusion’s enthusiasm for their exotic dishes
Pricey: The lion tacos sell for $35 each. The restaurant says it has now sold out and will not be restocking
He’s eaten rattlesnake and antelope before, he told the Tampa Tribune ‘Man it’s delicious. I heard everyone hating on them on Facebook about this place serving lion, so I thought I’d come check it out. Where else are you going to get that chance?’
Initially, the restaurant planned on selling lion tacos as long as people continued buying them but this weekend the Taco Fusion has decided to discontinue the dish because of the negative publicity. ‘We’re getting all kinds of threats over it,’ said Ryan Gougeon, the owner. ‘Now we’re getting bomb threats, and everything else. Some guy just called and said he’d kidnap me and grind me up for a taco. There are so many coming in we aren’t counting.’
Taco Fusion released a statement after the lion meat sold out: ‘Some of you were supportive, some of you were angry. We listened to everyone and decided to no longer carry lion.’
‘How is a cow that is injected with hormones, crammed in a dark pen it’s whole life, and then unceremoniously slaughtered any better than a hormone free- free range animal that was raised for meat consumption,’ the restaurant asks in a blog post. ‘One is ‘majestic’ and the other is overweight? One is a fierce predator, the other is a weak link? What exactly is the criteria for which animal has more importance?’
Lion isn’t the main attraction at the restaurant either. Ostrich, otter, gator, gazelle, beaver, rattlesnake, kangeroo and camel are all available as fillings too.
Taco Fusion has said it plans to introduce iguana and zebra meat next.