We always want to make dining a big part of our tours and while you can look forward to a post about our most recent destination, I want to limit this post to food – specifically one restaurant.
We escaped town on July 4 (2018) to scout out sites for a future motor coach tour, destined for Franklin, Tennessee. We had researched the restaurant possibilities sufficiently to know that we wouldn’t starve or be limited to chain restaurants, so we felt confident we could find some decent food.
Franklin’s on Central time, so arriving early wasn’t a priority. We would gain an hour along the way. By the time we arrived it was still a bit early (there) for lunch and the ambient temperatures were approaching 95 degrees with a heat index of 105. So we decided to check out something called “The Factory,” just north of town. We knew there was a taco place near there. We did not know it was inside The Factory.
The all-brick fascia of Mojo’s Tacos is marked by brilliant red neon. Posted on the glass is a menu, but these eyes couldn’t actually read it without pushing my head through the glass, Arrows pointed the way and that’s how we learned it was an order-at-the-counter kind of place. An attractive menu loomed over the cashier, so it was easy to make our choices.
10 different gourmet tacos plus their trademarked “Puffy” were presented by name and briefly described. In addition, a daily special of Jerk Shrimp was available.
We couldn’t believe the prices. All the tacos are $4 each except for the Puffy. And you can ask to have your tortilla made puffy for just $1 more. The tortilla is flash fried, making it an air-filled treat. It’s worth it.
Ann ordered the Baja Fish taco (beer-battered cod, shredded cabbage, and pico with a chipotle crema). I could have saved some money by adding chips and salsa to my taco order, but instead just asked for a full chips and salsa tray for $2. I ordered the Jerk Shrimp and the Fried Avocado and asked for them both to be made puffy.
Given the heat, we chose to dine indoors, but there’s a nice outdoor covered patio, too. Just guesstimating, the dining room seats about 30, with 10 more seats at a well-lighted bar where one can, I assume, get well lit. The patio might hold 30 more. That holiday morning, the place was hopping with families and people at the bar, but finding a seat was a breeze.
Instead of Coke and Pepsi, Mojo’s offers a unique self-service beverage machine featuring Maine Root Soda and other choices. I had the iced tea.
Ann, who has a strong preference for one soft drink, was less than thrilled with the taste of the offerings,
I always start out at a new place intending to give it 5 stars and then work down from there for inefficiencies, annoyances, bad service, or less than satisfactory taste. These two customers sat, fascinated with the ambience of Mexican tile and modern woods and deeply anticipating being wowed.
Then our food arrived. We had ordered chips and salsa and three tacos. Our server arrived with a large tray of chips, a small bowl of salsa, and a tray holding three tacos. It was immediately clear to us (though apparently not to the server) that we would have to improvise with one “plate” between us (literally).
I whipped off sheets of unbleached paper towels conveniently set on the table and began building a platform for my tacos, because these were juicy and messy, if not overstuffed. Then we tucked in.
The tastes were divine, but the ingredients fell a little short of spectacular. Ann thought the fish was a bit rubbery, but then we knew they hadn’t been out that morning hauling in a net full of Middle Tennessee Cod. But for $4, what could we have expected? I do hope they battered the fish in-house, but today’s food purveyors can wholesale just about anything.
My tacos were great and I encourage any taco shop to explore the puffy tortilla option. It works.
The chips were quite clearly fried in the kitchen, but the tray alternated between bland and overly salted. The salsa was hum-drum, dark brown and finely minced. Perhaps the chips work better with the nachos, queso, or guacamole, but for us they served only as a means to put salsa in our mouths and to add tasteless calories.
We were road-tripping on a hot, hectic day, so we passed on the chance to try a mojito or margarita. Next time, we’ll call Lyft and try out the well-stocked bar.
The staff were pleasant and the dining room was clean enough considering it was mid-shift on a day when many children were on hand. The prices were insanely cheap. And the tacos were the best we’ve had, certainly for the price.
The plate fiasco almost moved the ratings bar down to 4 stars, but I would not want to discourage anyone from eating here. I really have no reason not to give them my highest recommendation. I’m certain that kids will love it – a kids meal includes a Paleta (fruit-ice-pop) and the whole meal is just $5 including a choice of a cheese quesadilla, a beef taco, or chicken tenders plus a beverage and a Paleta. Adult size paletas are $4.
If you’re traveling I-65, you should know that Mojo’s is about 4 miles west, but at least 10 minutes from the Interstate. GPS will come in handy, but there are really only about 2 turns to make. The traffic can be horrid. As you leave, go south through downtown. You can get back to the Interstate from there. It’s a straight shot.
I’ve included photos of the menu below. Read to the end and find out who Mojo is. Here’s a hint: it’s pronounced Moe-Joe, not Mo-ho as I had assumed.
230 Franklin Road
Franklin, Tennessee 37064