By Lou Bustamante | SF Weekly
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call the taco the OG of food truck food. It’s 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 the Kogi Korean BBQ truck in L.A. 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’s global flavors delivered via tortilla span from Hawaii to Burma to North Africa, all in a way that somehow manages to avoid feeling like a gimmick.
We’re huge fans of pork — our go-to at taquerias and lonchera taco trucks is always the carnitas — and 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.
Braised squash may sound as exciting as an afternoon at the DMV, but it was cooked perfectly: just enough to impart the spices all the way through, but not so much that the zucchini melted into a puddle. The toppings added extra flavor, but more importantly, a range of textures precisely tuned to enhance the squash. Pickled beet slivers had enough earthiness and vinegary bite to refresh the palate, the Meyer lemon yogurt added creaminess and a citrus-spice fragrance, and the puffed moong dal (mung beans) provided a crispy element without making the taco taste entirely deep-fried.
The $5 price tag on the tacos will make some people think the Taco Guys are too expensive compared to the $1.25 taco truck versions, but we’d argue that they’re 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 us in line at both.
The Taco Guys, TheTacoGuys.com.