Food Court Wars: Empanadas vs. Tacos

by in Shows, July 14th, 2013

Tyler and Tirados
Food Court WarsOn Food Network’s new show, Food Court Wars, two teams of aspiring restaurant owners battle it out to win their very own food court restaurant worth $100,000. Through a set of challenges that tests their menu offerings and marketability, the team that makes the most sales on grand-opening day wins.

On tonight’s episode at the West Gate Mall in Spartanburg, S.C., the current owner of two taco restaurants, V.J., and his employee and store manager, Michael, opened The Taco Spot. And the team of Trish and her daughter Jenn, who previously quit her job to work at her mom’s food cart, opened Tirado’s Empanadas & More. In the end, the empanadas came out on top of the tacos, securing the Tirado women their very first restaurant business.

The first challenge had the teams try out their foods on mall kiosk owners. The ladies had a difficult time explaining what their empanadas were. In the end the guys won with their fish tacos, but just by one vote. The advantage got them prime advertisement on the mall’s entrance marquee. But would it put them in the lead? They would have to wait and see.

Taco Spot

The next day gave the teams an opportunity to market their businesses at town events. The Taco Spot handed out their Southern-inspired tacos at the MS Walk. The Tirados attended the Denim Fest and showcased two of their Puerto Rican specialty dishes — shrimp-filled plantain cups and papas rellenas (stuffed potato balls).


On grand-opening day, prepping for service proved to be tough for both teams, but luckily each was allowed a helper. During service, The Taco Spot had a bit of trouble expediting, so Michael stepped in to get things back on track. Over at Tirado’s, the team couldn’t get food out fast enough at first, but soon found a steady pace. Either team could have easily won the battle, but ultimately Trish and Jenn’s Puerto Rican flavors brought something unique and exotic to the mall that shoppers were eager to try.

Watch Food Court Wars on Sundays at 8pm/7c.

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Comments (17)

  1. Peggy Lynn says:

    is it just me or is this show a little off the mark? I am not really getting it. Anyone help explain.

  2. Kevin s says:

    So, another minority team wins. How about pitting a minority against a minority? Or is that not part of the agenda?

  3. Why? says:

    I had the experience to eat at this establishment today and fresh from the show one would expect a staler showing. Sadly this was not the case. I asked to have their main empanada, chicken and they were out, then asked for the spinach and they were out, so I got beef platter which came with two sides. I asked for rice and pidgin peas and they were out so I got rice and beans which the register jockey said was their best. I also opted for the cabbage salad, and a soft drink. Within a few minutes the stuff was ready no lines or people there really. The drink was a medium and the cup was slammed to the top full with ice which gave me less than 4-6 ounces of beverage, no free refills. The cabbage salad was way under dressed and basically tasted like cabbage and water with a few 6-8 kernels of corn in it. The rice and beans was no more than pinto beans and white rice and no flavor what-so-ever. No salt at all no spice either. The empanada plate cost $6 and the empanada was ground beef and what looks like lima beans. Way under seasoned and barely tasted on anything but mush. All in all a very poor performance from the food to the customer service. If they had not been given a full year of rent free I would say they would last about 1 month and that is by celebrity power alone. Very poor quality

    • Jenny59 says:

      From what you described they might not make it the entire year. There are more expenses connected to a business in addition to rent.

  4. cheryl w says:

    Prefer food truck wars!

  5. cheryl w says:

    Bring back food truck wars!

    • Genuine Jackson says:

      Agree – I think malls are pretty much dead. If the the facts are true – Tyler said 30% of their customers are mall employees.

      I would take a Food Truck over mall food any day.

      Also- when someone tells you as a home cook – "your food is fantastic" be honest with yourself and get an outside opinion. Really??!!?? these are your family and friends . . . would they ever say your food tastes horrible?

  6. Ben says:

    Who in the world wants to eat Puerton Rican food. Disgusting food that even people from there only eat because they don't know any better. Easy bet that this place will be gone as soon as the rent is no longer free.

    • P'ana says:

      @Ben – there is room for all types of food.

    • Sarah says:

      @Ben guaranteed you are a racist who wouldn't know good food if it smacked you in the face. Puerto Rican food is full of flavor but you wouldn't know that because I'm 100% sure you have never tasted a single bite. Oh and by the way today they had a line halfway into the food court so I'm pretty sure they'll be able to afford the rent.

  7. Angela C. says:

    You guys seem like a bunch of haters! They obviously won because their food was better, nothing more nothing less. Why does everything have to be black or white? Everyone does a chance to pursue their dreams, it's unfortunate that people like you make it hard for everyone.

  8. chefjenna says:

    I hate to see someone win that is talking crap about the other team. Trish with Tirado’s Empanadas & More was horrible!

  9. chefjenna says:

    Seems odd that they allow competitors that already own a restaurant…or two!

  10. Laurel says:

    I was very excited to have this restaurant locally – there used to be a pretty good Puerto Rican restaurant on the west side of Spartanburg, but it closed.

    Well, after they were open a few months we visited. I guess one should not expect great food at a food court – but this was terrible. We got the chicken empanadas which were dry and not at all tasty – they were edible. We wanted sweet plantains but they only serve them on special occasions. So we got the non-sweet (like chips) – I guess they were okay – I don't really like chips. Also some beans & rice dish that was fair.

    We did learn they have some daily special that is not the Empanadas – maybe it is better, I don't know. Even though we talked to the owner and asked for suggestions we did not learn of a special.

    It was not busy at all and I doubt they will make it through the 1st year despite the free rent.

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