Boca, gaining a rep for exotic tacos, plans lion-meat offering

In the six months since it launched Exotic Taco Wednesdays, Boca
Tacos y Tequila has served up python, alligator, elk, kangaroo and

Frog 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

Last week he announced on Boca’s Facebook page 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.

The couple usually order 2 to 3 pounds of meat for Exotic
Wednesdays, with grilled alligator being the best-seller.

But rattlesnake made an impact, too.

“It’s the one people want back the most,” Mazon said. “It was
the first one, and it’s the one most talked about.”

The couple plan to order the lion meat from a farm in Perris,
Calif., which is southwest of Los Angeles.

For the lion, diners will build their own Sonoran street-style
taco. They can add cabbage, guacamole, pickled red onions and diced
cucumbers and any of the six house-made salsas to the tacos.

The Mazons opened their taco shop at 828 E. Speedway, in the
former home of Greasy Tony’s, the legendary sub shop, last

“I’m 50 percent local Tucsonans and 50 percent students,” Mazon
said. “We do gourmet tacos. Do I want to get more students? –

“A lot of students might think that my price point isn’t
directed at them, but the average check is $8. Late night is 100
percent students.”

Boca is open 11:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday,
11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and noon until 10
p.m. on Sunday. Call 777-8134 for more information.

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