Farm to table. Organic. Locally sourced.
This is the latest gaggle of foodie buzzwords. Labels used to indicate, but by no means guarantee, quality. What’s better than menus brandishing these labels is when a restaurant lives this creed, without the need to remind its customers.
Noticeably without those foodie buzzwords, my first dish at T/aco came in an oil and salt speckled brown bag. A cast iron skillet of queso and a sampling of hot sauces accompanied my typically low hopes for chips and salsa. Chips and I have had a rocky relationship. I once banned them from my diet, not for some trendy weight loss regimen, but because they are the worst of American cuisine. A fried corn excuse to consume low-grade salt and fat.
But from the mouth of this brown paper bag, an essence of fleeting freshness wafted out. The first bites sang a chorus of crunch. As I munched on their salty goodness between tacos later, they never were quite as spectacular as when they first arrived. As a delight, they got worse.
They were proof that I had found a restaurant which carried a core creed: food made to consume, not to preserve. Even more so than Instagram posts, memories are the best preservative and strong flavors their best fuel. Those crunchy, salted chips were a foreshadow for what the rest of the meal unfolded to be.
For the rest of my meal, I witnessed T/aco perform a type of food-theater. The main act of their performance not is some kitsch, Benihana onion ring volcano shenanigans, but the tacos.
My first taco came dressed in a verdant topping of lettuce, red cubed tomatoes and hot barbacoa all seductively laying on a soft-shelled corn tortilla.
As put by a man in the south of India once upon a time, “the digestion starts with the fingers.” Just as Mexican and Indian food share a taste for knock-your-socks-off spice, each culture serves a finger-dripping, get the napkins ready experience. An experience very much enjoyed at T/aco.
Their barbacoa was a moist, salty, but balanced mix of flavor. One that paired restraint with an homage to Hispanic roots.
The soft shells are a prime choice. Their supple, yet coarse, texture soaks up the extra juice. Hard-shells just form a direct pipeline to one’s lap instead.
Cross cultural choices from their “North of the Border” section and ahi tuna plate stretch beyond the traditional selection of toppings. While cooked to perfection, the tuna’s less than authentic presence on the menu seems to stretch outside of their cultural roots. So does the north of the border PBLBT, which was deliciously flavored, yet contrived. I recommend staying well south of the border and sticking with what T/aco does best.
In a world of scientifically cooked moss and tree bark going for 35 dollars in restaurants, T/aco finds their roots in great food, helpful service and a community that welcomes all into their flavorful home. They do one thing, and they do it damn well. Don’t come searching for a burrito, you can go get diarrhea at Chipotle for that. But come here for a fun, flavor packed meal to be shared with friends, beer and laughter.
Check out T/aco’s Taco Tuesday for special deals on their best products.