Lunch in the Loop: Taquero Fusion Food Truck
Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great and affordable lunch.
I often get asked if I have a favorite food truck in Chicago. To be honest, it can be a little tricky for me to purchase my calories from them during the work week, because keeping up with their locations can be sort of a challenge. My current go-to site is Food Truck Freak. The truck locator is here, and a quick scan of the daily schedule lets me know if any mobile restaurant is in my work turf. To be sure, I also recommend looking at the truck's Twitter feed so you're not left with an empty mouthful of disappointment (which has happened to me).
My most recent truck visit was to Taquero Fusion, which was parked just outside the Willis Tower. It's a slick vehicle, equipped with a flat-screen television on the side that displays the menu and prices. Being the eternal manchild, I love shiny things and blinking lights, and I naturally gravitated towards the truck until suddenly, tacos and guacamole appeared in my hand, and soon, into my mouth.
The first thing I noticed was that Taquero Fusion rocks a flour tortilla for all of their tacos, as opposed to corn, which is an interesting choice. I can't remember the last time I had a flour tortilla taco other than on my drunken trips to Taco Bell. Did I just blow my food writer street cred with that sentence? Did I even have food writer street cred to begin with? Now I have to rethink my entire life.
To my surprise, the veggie taco ($2.79) is my favorite of the bunch. I am a pretty insatiable meat eater, but the seasoned red bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms pack a concentrated punch to the mouth, accented with a pretty heavy dose of salt. It's basically a fajita with mushrooms instead of meat. My last few bites were admittedly a little too salty, but I found a remedy to that later on.
The BBQ carnitas taco ($2.79) is a slight spin-off of what you expect from traditional carnitas. It's got the slow cooked and shredded texture you expect, but it's coated in a sweet barbecue sauce that tastes like a tricked out version of Kansas City-style barbecue sauce with chipotle peppers thrown in. It's almost too sweet for my taste, as most of the porky flavor disappears into the sauce.
The carne molida taco ($2.79) is a classic ground beef taco with plantains cooked in. The little starchy lumps of plantains don't add too much by way of flavor, and the meat is underseasoned. But my creative coworkers discovered that if you take some of the contents of the veggie taco and toss it into the carne molida taco, you've got a perfect blend of flavors, salt, and seasoning. Lunch hack!
The guacamole and chips ($3.99) are worth a try. The picture doesn't do it justice, but there's a ton of guacamole hidden under the blend of tortilla and plantain chips. The fried plantains are are thin, starchy, and crisp, exactly what you need against the silky and buttery avocado. There's no surprises with the guacamole itself; it's a standard blend of avocado, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, but what else do you really need?
And just so you know, there are two types of salsa, a sweet green tomatillo salsa, and a light tomato-based red salsa. One of them is supposed to be spicier than the other, but it's hard to detect. So, the big question: Is it worth $2.79 per taco? I'd side towards no, but that doesn't mean it's not worth a try. Give it a crack and let me know what you think.
About the author: After a failed attempt at starting a chain of theme restaurants called "Smellen Keller," Dennis Lee traveled the world to discover his true passion. Sadly, midwifery didn't pan out. Now he works in a cubicle, and screws around as much as possible. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter.