Among the best ways to spend two dollars on food in Minneapolis: two puppy dog tails at Isles Bun & Coffee, the pickled beef tongue hors d’oeuvre at Heidi’s, or a taco al pastor from Taco Taxi. What could be better for the price than double-wrapped soft corn tortillas and moist, flavorful marinated pork, topped with onion, cilantro, salsa, radish, and a squeeze of lime? I’ll stop by the Midtown Farmers Market for them alone.
But those who are only familiar with the mobile taxi are missing out on some gems at their brick and mortar location (1511 E. Lake St.). Inside the banana yellow façade is exactly what you want to see in a good taqueria — a row of Jarritos sodas, mistranslated English on the menu, and a few straightforward options. Their torta is good, but it’s no Manny’s. They also do the requisite quesadillas, sopes and burritos, but just do yourself a favor and get a heap of tacos.
The tacos al pastor are a good start. Are they as good as those at Taqueria La Hacienda? That’s certainly not an argument I’ll be entering. But one should take note of the proteins at Taco Taxi that wander into “variety meat” territory — their cow head meat (cabeza), beef tongue (lengua), and tripe (tripas) tacos are worth a visit alone. For $1.75 apiece, you can afford to be adventurous.
Both the cabeza and lengua are better than their standard steak (asada) taco. The cabeza meat is fibrous and textured, though its flavor isn’t as expressive as the lengua. The lengua is moist with the perfect amount of fattiness; the tongue meat is tender but still substantial. I would venture a guess that the cabeza is cheek meat, but for $1.75, I neither know nor care. And I believe that the tripas meat is fried small intestine, not the honeycombed stomach lining offal that many people conjure up when they hear “tripe.” Whatever it is, it’s delicious – slightly bready, salty, and chewy. The tripas benefits most from a squeeze of lime to offer a bright, acidic counterpoint to the rich, earthy meat.
The tacos are served topped with onions and cilantro, with small cups of their salsa (which also melds particularly well with the tripas). The radishes served on the side provide a nice crunchy texture in all of the taco varieties; I found myself cutting them into smaller shreds for even distribution. Taco Taxi won’t win anyone over on vanity, but its no-fuss, straight-out-of-Jalisco flavors keep me coming back. Two quick tips if you’re going: Bring cash, and park in the lot directly behind the building off 15th Avenue.
1511 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55407
OWNERS: Carlos and Hector Lopez
ENTREE RANGE: $3.50-7.50