Lake Okoboji and the Taco House — Two Spices of Life

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West Lake Okoboji and Taco House beef and black olive nachos. (Click photo to enlarge.)

West Lake Okoboji and Taco House beef and black olive nachos. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Although there are a couple of restaurants in the Lake Okoboji (Iowa) area that every once in awhile are my that-day choice of where I’d like to eat, the when-in-doubt default is always the Taco House.

According to a couple of current Taco House employees, the Taco House, as we know it today, has been in existence (same building, same recipes) since 1983, having changed ownership about six years ago.  Previous to 1983, there was a different structure that housed the Taco House.

“The cottage” (purchased by my mother in 1975, and now owned by my father and several family members) on West Lake Okoboji is about a 2/10ths mile walk from the Taco House.   So, we rarely eat at the Taco House, preferring to get takeout to eat on the dock or the porch.

Taco house menu items.  (Click photo to enlarge, and again to enlarge even more.)

Taco house menu items. * (Click photo to enlarge, and again to enlarge even more.)

The Taco House food is great, especially for the price.  Soft shell tacos are $2.90, or if extra meat and/or extra cheese is requested, a little bit more.  Beef nachos are $3.90, or a little bit more if we add black olives.

Sometimes there is a wait, but if you plan for it, it’s just part of the experience.  This summer I’ve been there six or seven times with about a ten-minute wait each time.  Other years, maybe once or twice I’ve needed to wait as long as a half hour.

Front and back of the Taco House menu.  (Click photo to enlarge.)

Front and back of the Taco House menu. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Some of my family members like their Taco House food to be…hot and spicy. (Makes sense.  After all, it is Mexican food!)  I like my Mexican food to have more mild seasoning and sauce.  The Taco House’s nachos, unless requested otherwise, include two sauces, a mild and a hotter sauce.  When I order nachos just for me, I just make certain they understand I want only the mild sauce, and no hot sauce.  Even my 90-year-old father, who says he never wants to eat anything with tomatoes, and for sure doesn’t like anything spicy, goes for the “no hot sauce” beef nachos.  There’s something at the Taco House for everyone.

Each fall we order a few dozen soft shell tacos to freeze for use over the winter (so, no lettuce in them).  These soft shell tacos seem to my sister and me to be almost like Mexican Maid-Rites.  Not too spicy.  Not too mild.  Perfect.

The Taco House does not take orders over the phone. Nor does it accept checks, but it does accept credit cards.

Just north of Milford, Iowa, looking north at the Taco House sign on new Highway 71.  (Click photo to enlarge.)

Just north of Milford, Iowa, looking north at the Taco House sign on new Highway 71. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Although, officially it has an Arnolds Park address, the Taco House is located on old Highway 71 (Terrace Park Blvd.), close to the SE tip of West Lake Okoboji. Depending on where you exit the newer Highway 71, the Taco House is about another 1/10th mile or ½ mile. Driving on new Highway 71 from both the north and south, there is small blue “Taco House Restaurant” sign indicating where to turn to get to the restaurant.

On old Highway 71, looking to the south at the Taco House.  (Click photo to enlarge.)

On old Highway 71, looking to the south at the Taco House. (Click photo to enlarge.)

The Taco House is open each year from approximately the second weekend in March through the weekend before Halloween.

* Posting permission granted by the Taco House.

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7 Responses to “Lake Okoboji and the Taco House — Two Spices of Life”

  1. Clara Says:

    I can hardly wait to taste the Taco House food next week. I hope they enjoyed the PR you provided. You must have had fun talking with the TH people.

  2. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    Yes, I did have fun. I got food at the TH on Wednesday and yesterday for myself, and then for the family today. I didn’t ask questions any of those times, but slipped in a separate time. They were quite busy as the 4th approached, and I didn’t want to interrupt them (and/or have waiting customers wish I’d stop talking so they could place their orders). So our conversation was brief. But, still fun.

  3. Peg Says:

    Ahhhhh, yes, the Taco House! I’m probably one of the rare family members who goes elsewhere at Okoboji for Mexican food; HOWEVER, you can’t beat it for a delightful walk from the cottage, camaraderie with the family, and some great trips down memory lane.

    I remember going there in the summer of ’71. I worked at the YMCA Camp Foster. I think my memory must be from later in the summer, during boys’ camp when I was a dishwasher (vs earlier in the summer, during girls’ camp when I wa a counselor). One of the guy staff and I had the day off and were out having fun, including stopping at . . . (drum roll, please) . . . TACO HOUSE! I don’t remember the structure being different, though it must have been, since that’s what the TH people told you. But I do remember what I was wearing! Lemon-yellow terry-cloth-like short-shorts and a cute, short-sleeved top with little lemon-yellow flowers. And on the juke box was George Harrison’s 1969 “Here Comes the Sun.” Just seemed to fit right in with being off work, being at sunny Okoboji, and (in hindsight) my lemon-yellow outfit. :-) Jerry Strand, if you ever read this, here’s to you! And keep letting “the Son shine in!” :-)

    Sorry if I shouldn’t have digressed from your story, Louise, to mine! A good-listening no-no. Oops.

    But how fun to read all your TH info! Maybe someone will go to TH from reading your descriptions!

    And BEST OF ALL is the FABULOUS, MOUTH-WATERING, LAKE-LONGING photo of the food and beverage on the dock. How fun that you have your “big” camera and are getting so much use out of it and that you’re getting so good with it! I do know if you saw the blog coming when you bought the camera a few months (?) back, but wow–what a boon! (Like that word–“boon”? Hehehe. )

  4. Peg Says:

    The lake water looks high. Is it?

  5. Louise Gunderson Shimon Says:

    I remember Jerry!

    It seems like the current water level is about normal, about 24-30” below the boards of the dock. I think the photo gives an optical illusion of the water level being higher.

  6. Peg Says:

    Fun that you remember Jerry! :-)

    Nice to get a more accurate sense of what the water level is like at the lake.

  7. Bret Says:

    Hello, i really love the photo of thr taco house food on the dock. I was wondering if i could use your photo for some cards. Please email me asap at bret692001@yahoo.com

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