The mere mention of tacos triggers something in some people. Not the bad kind of trigger, mind you – it’s more like once the word tacos is mentioned, they interrupt the sentence and excitedly inquire, “Tacos? What tacos? Where’s a taco?” Well, for those people, as well as for more tempered taco aficionados, there is good news; it’s about to be National Taco Day, and there are several places in Irvine that are promoting the occasion with special offerings.

Before we get to our list, however, a little background is in order; after all, the origin of National Taco Day is the stuff of legend. In 1964, San Antonio journalist Roberto L. Gomez sent a 55-pound taco to President Johnson as part of his ongoing campaign to raise awareness about U.S. citizens of Latin heritage (previously, he’d sent President Kennedy a 48-pound tamale as a birthday gift). Following the taco stunt, Gomez established the National Taco Council as a means to promote Mexican restaurants and inspire pride in the Mexican American community. Sadly the National Taco Council seems to have not survived through the ’80s, but the concept of a National Taco Day was occasionally used for annual promotions at various Mexican restaurants. Finally, the official date of Oct. 4 was determined in 2009 as part of a promotional campaign by the Del Taco chain.

Interestingly, it seems that popular chains seem the most dedicated to celebrating the occasion, as after being informed of a couple of local promotions, this reporter phoned up a number of local, family-run, Mexican eateries – only to discover that they were not joining in the celebration. Regardless, here’s where to go for your taco fixes and special promotions on National Taco Day.

Lobster Taco & Margarita (Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen)

Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen

Make way for OC’s premier Latin eatery! Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen will serve a lobster, short rib, and wild mushroom Taco Trio Plate for $19 that pairs perfectly with Cha Cha’s signature margaritas. The spicy Tamarindo Margarita combines the flavors of Herradura Blanco tequila, tamarindo, fresh lime, and homemade sweet & sour while the traditional Palomar Margarita mixes Pueblo Viejo tequila, orange liqueur, serrano chile, hibiscus, and homemade sweet & sour into a tangy concoction. Both the lobster tacos and the Palomar and Tamarindo margaritas are exclusive to this promotion and are available Friday, Oct. 1 – Oct. 4. To make reservations, visit www.chachaslatinkitchen.com

Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen (The Irvine Marketplace), 13126 Jamboree Rd, Irvine, CA 92602

(Tavo’s Cocina)

Tavo’s Cocina

Tavo’s Cocina offers the rich delights of Mexican cuisine. Chef Gustavo, whose culinary journey began over a decade ago, marries traditional spices with a fresh twist. Tavo’s keeps the tradition alive, passing on the taste of Mexico’s vibrant history to the next generation. Every dish, including his wide assortment of tacos, is crafted with innovation and authentic flavors. A TRADE-favorite called the La Governador Taco is a show-stopping taco with shrimp, cheese, pico and Tavo’s house-made chipotle sauce! Served in their homemade tortillas, their Quesa Birria Tacos bring zest and flavor when dipped in their famous Birria Au Jus! At Tavo’s — celebrate the art of Mexicana cooking from their cocina to your own table! Tavo’s will offer a 10% discount for National Taco Day. To check out their menu, visit their website at www.tavoscocina.com/

Tavo’s Cocina (Trade Marketplace, Irvine), 2222 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612

Del Taco

As the chain which set the date of National Taco Day in stone, it has merited inclusion on our list. Their promotion features something of a countdown with several different deals on the days leading up to Oct. 4. These may vary by location, but essentially they all include a free item with the purchase of other items, and on National Taco Day, any purchase will get you a free Stuffed Quesadilla Taco.

Del Taco, 3050 Main St., Irvine, California, 92614

Del Taco, 4820 Barranca Pkwy, Irvine, California, 92604

Chronic Tacos

This year, Chronic Tacos, another popular chain with two Irvine locations, is offering a free taco on National Taco Day with the purchase of a beverage. The tacos they offer includes are their chicken, carnitas, al pastor and veggie tacos (not included in the promotion are their steak, Beyond Beef, shrimp, fish, or potato tacos).

Chronic Tacos (Alton Square) 5365 Alton Pkwy Ste D., Irvine, CA 92604

Chronic Tacos (Walnut Village) 14435 Culver Dr., Irvine, CA 92604

Rubio’s Coastal Grill

Another popular chain that is featuring a free taco giveaway on this auspicious occasion is Rubio’s. Here, any purchase gets you one free taco on Oct. 4. Mind, for this one you need a coupon, which you can access here: https://www.rubios.com/national-taco-day-offer (download the coupon, or just show the site’s QR code on your phone when placing your order). Additionally, if you join their rewards club and make a purchase on National Taco Day, you will be entered into a contest, wherein you might win a $50 gift card for Rubio’s.

Rubio’s Coastal Grill 17655 Harvard Ave., Irvine, CA 92614

El Torito

For our final entry, we thought we’d suggest a stop at El Torito. Obviously, they are well-known for their all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch, but if you stop in on Monday, Oct. 4, you will have an opportunity to gorge on their Mini Crispy Tacos (either steak or chorizo) for only $6 throughout the day. Keep in mind, their happy hour specials begin at 3 p.m.

El Torito 18512 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine, CA 92612