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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Tagine Squash Tacos at The Taco Guys

Posted By on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante

Our weekly bite explores the city's food trucks, one at a time, highlighting our favorite mobile dishes and snacks.

The Truck: The Taco Guys

The Cuisine: Global cuisine delivered on a tortilla

Specialty Items: Maui fish taco, kalua pork taco

Worth the Wait in Line? At peak lunch time, a total 15 minutes from the end of the line to food in hand.

It wouldn't be entirely untrue to say that the taco might be the ultimate food truck food. It is endlessly riffed on, was the primary reason food trucks existed before the boom, and with a little Korean flair, provided the kick that launched the movement via Kogi in LA. The humble taco is also what turned chefs Jason Hoffman and Justin Close, a pair of classically trained cooks looking to do their own thing, into the Taco Guys.

Their truck, and their global flavors delivered on a tortilla, span from Hawaii to Burma and North Africa in a way that somehow manages to avoid feeling like a gimmick.

See also: The Taco Guys: Longtime Line Cooks Take Fine-Dining Chops Mobile

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Carne Asada Tacos at El Tonayense

Food Truck Bite of the Week: Rum Pork Tacos at Tango & Stache

I'm a huge fan of pork -- my go to staple at taquerias and lonchera taco trucks is always the carnitas -- and I really enjoyed the Kalua Pork Tacos ($5, smoked Berkshire pig, seared red cabbage, pickled mango, daikon sprouts, soy glaze). But amazingly, the Squash Tagine Tacos ($5, braised zucchini, peppers, and onions topped with moong dal, pickled beets, sumac and meyer lemon yogurt) was the clear standout among their offerings.

Braised squash may sound as exciting as an afternoon at the DMV, but it was cooked perfectly: just enough to impart the tajine spices all the way through, but not so much that the zucchini melted into a puddle. The toppings added extra flavor, but most importantly, a range of textures that was precisely tuned to enhance the savory squash. The pickled beet slivers had enough earthiness and vinegar bite to refresh the flavors, the yogurt a little creaminess and spice-citrus fragrance, and the puffed moong dal (mung beans) provided a crispy element without making the taco taste deep-fried.

The five-dollar price tag on the tacos will make some people think the Taco Guys are too expensive compared to the $1.25 taco truck tacos, but I'd offer the argument that they are completely different experiences. The standard taco truck offers cheap, fast, fatty and salty food, while Hoffman and Close use local, seasonal, and high quality ingredients and offer a unique product. You can take a short jaunt down to Mexico by visiting a taco truck or you can travel around the world with the Taco Guys. You'll find me in line at both.

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