In the six months since it launched Exotic Taco Wednesdays, Boca Tacos y Tequila has served up python, alligator, elk, kangaroo and rattlesnake. Frogs legs, turtle, duck and Rocky Mountain oysters have also made appearances. "We've done just about anything we can get our hands on," said owner Bryan Mazon. "Every Wednesday we do something a little bit different."
Last week he announced that the UA-area taco shop was accepting prepaid orders for African lion, to be served on Feb. 16. Orders must be placed by 3 p.m. Feb. 7. "I've gotten a lot of questions, like if it's legal," said Mazon, adding that a few lion tacos have been reserved so far. "We're still a month out, too." According to the Food and Drug Administration, lion and other game meat can be sold as long as the species isn't endangered.
"I'm doing the African lion to get my name out," said Mazon, who used to be a salesman for City Meat and Provisions. "I've never tried it myself, but this one really caught my eye." Mazon said he had heard about a Mesa restaurant, il Vinaio, that served burgers made with African lion to correspond with the World Cup in South Africa last summer. Reservations sold out, but others picketed the restaurant. Most of Boca's exotic tacos range between $3 and $4. The lion tacos cost $8.75 apiece.
This is the first time Boca is pre-selling its tacos. But at $100 a pound of ground lion meat - $400 for a pound of tenderloin - it makes sense. Mazon said he still expects to lose money on the lion, but is in it for exposure. "In all reality, what I want is just people to know that I'm here," he said. "That's the way to do it. You can't get these tacos anywhere else." His wife, Maria Jose Mazon, is Boca's chef and will make eight tacos per pound.