Siouxland Stories: Milford Taco House offers a half-century of freshly made goodness

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MILFORD, Iowa (KCAU) — For 55 years, the Taco House has been a must-stop attraction in the Iowa Great Lakes, and the owner said there’s no reason to think that will change anytime soon.

“My name is Christina Hamrick and I started working here in March of 2003. I was 17, and I’ve been here ever since. Now, not sure where I’d go if I wasn’t here.”

And the same can be said for the tens of thousands of taco-loving supporters who frequent this Iowa Great Lakes treasure each year.

“It’s been here long enough that grandma brings the grand kids, and they bring their kids and it just keeps going. Always a go-to kind of place,” said Christina Hamrick.

That’s been the case since Marta and Jack Campbell opened in 1966. After 38 years, Kim and John Buller took over for 16 years, handing the reins over to Christina and husband Todd just two years ago. Three owners in 55 years.

“It’s like the parents you don’t want to let them down you feel that pride and when somebody says you are doing a good job nothing has changed, it’s got a place in your heart,” said Christina.

But perhaps, not as big as the place in your stomach.

Every day, everything is made from scratch. Not frozen. The menu board is filled with options.

“Always been a staple. Still from scratch not frozen everything cooked from scratch. Can’t find that many places anymore,” said Christina.

“We have those who come in and say I’m going to try everything on the list. Then they find something that’s their go-to and then it’s the same every day,” she added.

The family run eatery has changed over the years, but not the food.

“We don’t change anything when it comes to the food,” Christina says. “Concrete is nice, a little more seating is nice but the food is always the same and always will be.”

“On a busy day, I can use 700 pounds of hamburger which is almost half a cow. The amount of cheese, 250 pounds of cheese. Mass quantities we’re pumping out here. It’s not frozen and it’s made every day so were busy, busy,” she adds.

The Taco House gives new meaning to take out orders.

“Soft shells are probably the go-to and the sauce,” she said

But that’s nothing for Christina and The Taco House crew.

“The furthest I know of is a taco going to somewhere is Paris. A customer’s son was stationed over there, and the parents went to see him. I have a picture of them eating under the Eifel Tower,” Christina says.

“I think the biggest is probably 150, for one person is the biggest.

“We have them in Minnesota, Colorado, Texas, and somehow they get it there,” she adds.

For those who choose to eat it where they got it, the Taco House offers a unique experience.

“This is probably one of the only kitchens that is 100 percent open. You can see every little thing we do.  Make your food, cook and you watch the whole show and that’s not in a lot of places,” the owner says.
“The little kids that are 5 and 6 up there peeking in seeing what you are doing and waving.

“They watch us in the window and say when I’m 14 I’m going to come work here.

It’s a tradition Christina hopes never ends and one she says she’s committed to continuing.

“There’s no option for failure. I don’t want to let anyone down. There are high standard to live up to,” Christina said.

Taco House closes its 55th season on October 26.

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