One man greatly dedicated to his food game, just completed a taco lover’s dream.
Journalist Mike Sutter ate tacos for nearly 365 days straight, traveling 6,000 miles around San Antonio to sample every type the region is serving up.
Last year, the food critic made it his mission to hit at least a year’s worth of taquerias and record each spot for San Antonio Express News‘ “365 Days of Tacos” project, where fans could follow his daunting (and delicious) journey.
Sutter told PEOPLE there was nothing that could get in the way of his end goal—not even thyroid cancer. He was diagnosed in October, only three months away from completing his project.
“I went in for surgery on a Tuesday, and I was back on my taco trail on Friday,” he said. “I went back Friday and went to eight taquerias that day—I wasn’t going to let it slow me down.”
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“You commit to doing something 365 days you gotta do it, if you miss a single day then you blow the whole year,” he added. “I even said I’m going to do this from the great beyond if I have to!”
To make up for lost time and to be certain he’d hit seven taquerías a week, some days he’d double or triple up. Once he hit as many as 10 taquerias beginning at 5:45 a.m. and ending the day at 11:45 p.m.
Sutter vowed to order a taco at each spot he visited and made a rule for himself to find the most unusual pick on each menu.
But the taco enthusiast made it clear that he couldn’t try just one. “I would get three, four, five, half a dozen tacos — whatever else seemed interesting,“ he said. “I remember there was this one place where I absolutely had to order four tacos because the tacos were this: liver and onions, fried pigs butt, beef sweetbreads and pork blood sausage. Four different tacos at one taco spot, and they were delicious. I know that sounds like a fear-factor dare or something but it’s real food!”
His final tally of tacos devoured? A whopping 1,387.
The Texas resident says he began by visiting joints recommended to him by local friends. Others he just stumbled upon—and was glad he did.
“There are streets in San Antonio where you could walk from taqueria to taqueria and never hit the ground,” he said. “There’d be these great spots that’d pop up and I’d be like, ‘We better add these to today’s list.’ These are places that aren’t yet on Google maps, or on Yelp, and for some, as far as I know, this was the first time they’ve been written about. To be recognized without having white tablecloths and a PR representative or 38 dollar entrees, people appreciated being noticed.”
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Now that his journey is over, “I may have a sort of taco PTSD,” he laughed, “but it’s a good kind to have. The series ended, but there’s this huge guide now. So the task (for those) choosing a place has been done!”
Luckily, Sutter already has another quest set up for the new year. For 2018, he’s ready to get his hands dirty with 52 weeks of barbecue in San Antonio to familiarize himself with the city’s other popular food scene.