Popular Greenwood Taco Spot Has Attracted Customers for 22 Years
Writer / Matt Keating
Photographer / Ron Wise
Roscoe’s Tacos, 642 S. Madison Ave., Greenwood, is a family affair, and that’s just the way Co-Owner Roscoe Townsend
The popular Mexican restaurant has garnered a large and loyal following since it opened in 1996, attracting numerous families who keep returning.
“My wife, Rita, has always been the driving force for excellence in our restaurants,” Townsend says. “She has worked to ensure that the food is always consistently top quality and service with a smile, a nod or a joke. She teases and knows everyone who comes in regularly.”
They have two daughters, Raina and Kyla, who have also been active at Roscoe’s Tacos.
Townsend says the employees at Roscoe’s Tacos kicked him off the front line in 2006, so he rarely assembles the tacos anymore.
“I’m too slow and everybody wants to talk to me, and it slows down the production,” he laughs. “So I try to stay out of their way. I tell everyone that I am the maintenance man.”
Townsend says Rita insisted on starting Roscoe’s Tacos in 1996 when they both found themselves unemployed for the first time in their lives, due to circumstances beyond their control.
“We both had significant restaurant experience from other fast food places, and thought we could run a tiny operation making the tacos and burritos that I had been eating since childhood,” Townsend says. “I had a degree from Purdue University in Restaurant Management, and I was one of the earliest Subway Restaurant franchise owners in the Indianapolis area in the mid 1980’s. She had been a manager for Dairy Queen, and of course, knew the Subway business too.”
They originally called their restaurant Roscoe’s Tacos and Tall Tales.
“That’s why we have menus items such as Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox, Mike Fink and Davy Crockett represented, as well as the Butch Cassidy and of course my hero, Nikola Tesla, the man that changed the world with his work in electricity,” Townsend says. “These names help us keep the food items properly made, avoiding confusion.”
Townsend’s mother and father lived in a Mexican neighborhood in south Texas when he was born, and his mom learned how to make tacos for his dad, who had been raised in Mesa, Arizona. She later adapted the taco meat to include the chili beans that make Roscoe’s Tacos unique.
“It was a culinary emergency that resulted in this adaptation,” Townsend says. “My dad had a habit of inviting people to our house for dinner after church, and my mom only had a couple of pounds of taco meat available. She dumped in a couple cans of beans, seasoned it all up and served it.”
It wound up being the best taco dinner they had ever had.
“She always made it that way after that,” Townsend says.
Townsend’s mom also discovered their popular Cowboy Cookie when Townsend was 12 years old. Townsend told her that she had made the perfect cookie and never needed to make another kind.
“I consider six Cowboy Cookies and a glass of milk, a substitute for any meal,” he says. “All my sisters and I specialize in these cookies and there is rarely a family gathering without a batch being shared among us. An employee at Roscoe’s Tacos knows real responsibility has arrived when they are taught to make the cookies.”
Townsend says he will never forget the look of disbelief on his mom’s face when he told her they were going to sell Cowboy Cookies with the tacos, and she was instructed to make the first batch.
“She thought it was a ridiculous idea that people would buy a single cookie for 50 cents,” Townsend says.
Other popular items include their pinto beans, which Townsend says are “a real Vegan delight and blend well with the chili items to make our Nachos Supremo the best around town.”
“We sell more than 500 pounds of pinto beans every week,” he adds.
The Black Beans and Rice at Roscoe’s Tacos also have a truly unique flavor due to the method of preparation and seasoning. With cheese included, it is a dish to crave. There is also a big demand for chicken.
“We cook boneless chicken and shred it to please the crowd that forms here every day to enjoy it,” Townsend says. “Hundreds of pounds of chicken must be prepared every week. For the meat lover, our tender, slow-cooked braised beef is unmatched.”
The consistent flavor of the items on the Roscoe’s Tacos menu is the reason that they have been in business for 22 years. They also have a large menu.
“We have never sacrificed quality of our meat to save money,” Townsend says. “We grind up to 750 pounds of high-quality Beef Chuck to make our hamburger every week. It is a major process of production.Our sauces are the real reason that the people line up to get this food year after year, though. Once you have your favorite heat level chosen, you just got to come back again.”
Roscoe’s Tacos is located at 642 S Madison Avenue. You can give them a call at 317 859-0043 or visit them online at roscoestacos.com for more information.