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Old 04-02-2013, 06:54 AM   #1
kellia
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Taco bar at graduation party?

Hi, I keep reading about the Taco Bars at graduation parties and think that's what we're going to do for dd's party in June. I was wondering, do you have other foods too, like lunchmeat and rolls or something, for those who don't like Mexican?

How do you keep all the food warm without going dry? Meat in crock pots? What about rice and beans, how do you keep those warm? Do you put it all out there at once or smaller batches? Her party will be from 12-5, so I'm worried about it going bad if it's out the whole time.

Also, I saw someone say they had taco salad shells. Where do you get those? I know you could make them, but I don't have a deep fryer and am not sure that's something I want to attempt!

Thank you for any advice!
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:04 AM   #2
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They sell a pan to make the taco bowls. You just put a corn or flour tortilla in it and put it in the oven. I have also seen them already make at the supermarket if that is easier.
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:30 AM   #3
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Thumbs up Great Idea!

We did a taco bar at my sons graduation party last year & it was great!.

We ordered everything from a local restaurant supplier- everything was pre-cooked & cut (lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc). We bought a few racks, sternos, & aluminium pans from the dollar store & it kept everything warm. I bought 2 inflatable ice bars at Mendards to keep the side items cold.

It was easy & everyone loved it!

We had: beef, fajita chix, hard & soft shells, lettuce, cheese, onions, sour cream, tomatoes, jalapenos, chips, nacho cheese sauce, salsa & a few salads, dessert table, AND a HUGE candy buffet - HUGE hit!!!!..

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Old 04-02-2013, 07:37 AM   #4
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To keep things warm do you have party trays, holders and sterno? Like this: http://images.drillspot.com/pimages/8144/814464_300.jpg
This will hold food warm for a while. We used this at my baby shower for pasta and meatballs and the food was piping hot. You can get the setup for this at any party supply store.

The crock pot idea is good for the meat and beans for sure. Also, I love the idea of a taco bar! it's one of my favorite meals. We even had a fajita bar at my wedding during cocktail hour and it was a huge hit!
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:02 AM   #5
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We kept the meat in crock pot. The rice and beans were kept in warming trays with sterno cans. The extra pans were kept in a warm oven, until we need to refill. We had hard shells, tortillas and chips. Also, lettuce and tomatoes. People who wanted salads used the chips to make their salads. Some used chips to make nachos. We had sour cream, salsa, hot sauce and regular sauce and guacamole for the toppings. We had a fruit salad and a cake. We did not have sandwiches or anything else, but people LOVED it. They were so tired of standard grad food, they were all super happy when they walked in the kitchen, and no one left hungry.
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:56 AM   #6
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I also had a taco bar for my daughter's graduation. I made the meat the day before and put it in a crockpot the day of serving. Used crockpots for beans and rice. We had soft and hard shells as well as nacho chips. I didn't serve sandwiches but had a beautiful cake and cupcakes in her school colors. It was a big hit. Don't worry about trying to make several different kinds of food. People will eat what you serve. And congratulations on having one to graduate. It's a very important time.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunchlady View Post
Don't worry about trying to make several different kinds of food. People will eat what you serve.
Exactly. Unless you have someone with a known food issue (vegetarian/vegan, food allergy, etc.) there is no need to put out a whole bunch of different stuff just in case.

I can't think of anyone who couldn't find something to eat on a taco bar. Most people like Mexican food. The vegetarians can make their stuff out of the beans/rice/cheese. The healthy eaters can make themselves a salad. The picky eaters can control exactly what they're getting since it's self-service.

If someone can't make it work, they're looking for a reason to be unsatisfied and nothing you would have done could make them happy. And, in their case, absolutely no one is in any danger of starving to death.
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Old 04-02-2013, 11:52 AM   #8
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Exactly. Unless you have someone with a known food issue (vegetarian/vegan, food allergy, etc.) there is no need to put out a whole bunch of different stuff just in case.

I can't think of anyone who couldn't find something to eat on a taco bar. Most people like Mexican food. The vegetarians can make their stuff out of the beans/rice/cheese. The healthy eaters can make themselves a salad. The picky eaters can control exactly what they're getting since it's self-service.

If someone can't make it work, they're looking for a reason to be unsatisfied and nothing you would have done could make them happy. And, in their case, absolutely no one is in any danger of starving to death.
ITA!! when I go to a party I never think to complain about the food offered because if I'm not paying for it myself I really have no say in what is offered. And like the above poster said, the fixings for a taco bar really would appeal to a vegetarian/vegan.

Now if it's allergies to food I have no problem accommodating their needs. but they need to tell me before hand so I know what I can serve or have a dish on the side prepared for them.
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:06 PM   #9
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You could also do walking tacos to make it even easier- instead of having some sort of shell, just buy the single serve packs of Doritos nacho flavor chips. People open the bags, smash the chips a little, and add beef, tomato, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, etc. Eat with a fork. This can also eliminate the need for plates.
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Old 04-02-2013, 12:07 PM   #10
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Put out a few bowls and a salad dressing or two and the use the taco ingredients to make a salad.
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:37 PM   #11
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I agree, taco stuff only. Should be something for everyone, even vegetarians. We have done taco bars and crock pots are your friends. Borrow enough for everything to keep hot and use bowls with ice to keep cold things cold.

I however, would not try to keep the food bar open the entire time unless its a drop in. It's really hard to keep everything fresh for 5 hours! Maybe note on the invites that lunch will be served from 12-2 and then plan to stay and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. If it is a drop in, or you do not have a planned and noted time for a cake cutting, you might consider cup cakes arranged in a creative way, rather than a cake you might be hesitated to cut for a guest having to leave at 2, or have the cake not look very nice after that early cutting.
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kellia View Post
Hi, I keep reading about the Taco Bars at graduation parties and think that's what we're going to do for dd's party in June. I was wondering, do you have other foods too, like lunchmeat and rolls or something, for those who don't like Mexican?

How do you keep all the food warm without going dry? Meat in crock pots? What about rice and beans, how do you keep those warm? Do you put it all out there at once or smaller batches? Her party will be from 12-5, so I'm worried about it going bad if it's out the whole time.

Also, I saw someone say they had taco salad shells. Where do you get those? I know you could make them, but I don't have a deep fryer and am not sure that's something I want to attempt!

Thank you for any advice!
I had a taco bar for my son's graduation party. I did serve other foods, but that's because I'm an over-achiever , not because it was "necessary"

We served (in a roaster with a buffet server insert)
1. shredded chicken
2. carnitas
3. ground beef

I had extra inserts and every couple of hours (my party went on a lot longer than you are planning) would swap out for fresh so nothing dried out.

with
refried beans - these were vegetarian (no lard)
Spanish rice

served in crockpots. An occasional stir kept everything looking appetizing and I had back-ups waiting.


black bean and corn salad

flour tortillas
hard taco shells
snack bags of Fritos and Doritos for "walking tacos" - VERY popular with the kids!
tortilla bowls for taco salads - I baked my own the day before using metal forms (available just about anywhere)

I had bowls of the following in an inflatable thingy(like a kiddie pool) filled with ice. Extra bowls were waiting for swapping after a couple of hours.
shredded lettuce
sour cream
hot and mild salsa
homemade salsa with cilantro
minced cilantro (I'm vehemently pro-cilantro, but i know some hate it)
shredded cheese
diced jalapenos
sliced jicama

a nacho cheese fountain ( I just used a chocolate fountain...worked beautifully). You could just put nacho cheese in another crockpot though.
tortillas chips

For dessert, I made fruit salsa and served it with cinnamon tortilla chips and churros.

I also had a table featuring Italian favorites (DH's family is Sicilian, so meatballs and gravy are a given) and an All-American buffet (fried chicken, coleslaw, baked beans) but again, the extra options certainly were NOT necessary
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:32 AM   #13
kellia
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Thank you for all of the great replies!

I didn't know you could make the taco bowls in the oven, very cool! I worked in a Mexican restaurant in college and didn't want to do it in the big fryer like they did!

I am so nervous about this. We've never had a party this big and I've never had an "Open House" where I had to worry about food being ready for several hours. Hopefully the taco bar will be easy to maintain so we can enjoy ourselves a little bit! I had dh and dd do facebook invites as a "save the date" type thing (I'll still send out real invites to family and friends) and am shocked at how many people have already accepted.

Good to know that most people like Mexican. I could live on it myself, but wasn't sure if others felt the same way! Guess you're right about the salad bar and all, there ought to be something for everyone. Best part is that can be prepped the day before.

Anyone have any ball parks on how much meat and stuff to make? I'm guessing 100-200 people. How many pounds or crock pots of meat would that be? (I'll probably do ground beef, chicken and carnitas.) Guess at least if I make too much that will freeze well!
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:37 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KDIPIAZZ View Post

a nacho cheese fountain ( I just used a chocolate fountain...worked beautifully). You could just put nacho cheese in another crockpot though.
tortillas chips
I love the idea of a nacho cheese fountain! How fun!!
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Old 04-03-2013, 08:44 AM   #15
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We have done many and the only sides were Spanish rice, beans (vegetarian), fruit. They ate guests at a party so I have not heard complaints only rave reviews.
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