Selfie-centric interactive SXSW exhibit is for taco-lovers only

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s love for tacos takes a new step forward Friday with the opening of the latest “Instagrammable” exhibit during SXSW.

Tacotopia combines colorful backgrounds with interactive props to encourage ticket-holders to get that perfect taco-themed Instagram shot. Customers can play in the guac pit (a ball pit filled with green foam to look like guacamole), pose on a lime wedge swing, take photos in with a wall of chihuahua bobbleheads, and snap selfies on a seesaw in front of a recreation of San Antonio’s “I love tacos so much” mural.

Some of the elements were created by local Austin artists.

“People are going to be more inclined to kind of share their lives with everybody else and connect with each other a bit more,” said Alex Machuca, the Arizona-based owner of Tacotopia.

At $25 for an adult ticket and $15 for kids, Machuca acknowledges the marketing and event-planning company is making money off of your social media habits but said they’re trying to create an experience for people they won’t find anywhere else.

“We live in a sharing culture,” he said.

It’s a taco culture, too. “I feel like you could eat tacos every day,” Chelsey Brimer said Tuesday over breakfast tacos at Juan in a Million in east Austin. 

She was there with her husband and her visiting parents. They weren’t the first tacos the group had eaten during the trip, nor, most likely, would they be the last. Austin is “not lacking in delicious tacos, for sure,” she said.

“I think this has got to be taco heaven,” added her dad, Robert Brimer.

The taco spot is famous outside of Austin. Walls are lined with photos of the owner with celebrities who stopped in to chow down, and the restaurant is gearing up for what promises to be another busy SXSW, said Dolores Vasquez, an employee on and off for the last ten years.

Taco love is strong with Vasquez, because they represent more than just a meal: “Love, happiness,” she said with a laugh.

That’s what Tacotopia is trying to capitalize on, Machuca said, the city’s love for all things taco. “We thought it was a match made in heaven.”

It’s not the first Instagrammable space the company has created here; Tacotopia takes over the building that was occupied by the “Art of Ice Cream” installation in south Austin.

The exhibits continue a popular trend over the last few years of creating themed spaces to provide backdrops for social media influencers and other users to snap selfies and share the experience with friends.

Tacotopia, located at 3208 South Congress Avenue, opens Friday for SXSW and runs the entire month of March before moving on to Los Angeles. Tickets can be found here.

With your ticket, you also get a bottle of Cholula hot sauce and a Jarritos soda (both companies sponsor the pop-up). A ticket also comes, of course, with a taco.

Austin is the launchpad for the pop-up, which will travel to Los Angeles in May, Chicago in August, Miami in November, and New York next February.

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