Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Vinyl Taco offers a spin on Mexican food

by Granville Wood | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | All About Food | December 19th, 2013

When I first saw the plywood-covered construction site with the words “Vinyl Taco coming soon” emblazoned on it I was both confused and excited. Excited because I am always up for some good tacos (and I wouldn’t be disappointed), confused because my mind didn’t compute why you would use “vinyl” as an adjective for a consumable food product such as a taco. But like any clever story, all would be revealed in time.

Vinyl Taco is located at 520 1st Ave. N. It is the brainchild of Warren Ackley and brothers Randy and Lance Thorson. Located next to JL Beers and across the street from the HoDo, the addition of Vinyl Taco makes this location the coolest, hippest culinary corner in town. Vinyl Taco completes the trifecta with imaginative, clever design, a great atmosphere and well-prepared food, making it a cool place to hang out.

The interior design team brought an artistic element to what was previously a drab, lifeless space. Spectacular mosaics of musicians Jimi Hendrix (I want one for my house) and Johnny Cash by local artist Rando caught my eye immediately, and there is even more art to appreciate. The room is dominated by a very large, rectangular bar with an equally dominate bison perched on top that discretely hides the one TV. Here is where the “vinyl” comes in: Behind the bar, dual turntables spin classic LPs, and the good music and excellent sound system drive the cool vibe.

The room is ringed with an assortment of high-top tables and booths. The bar takes up much of the room, giving the booths and high-tops a cozy kind of feeling. I can’t say if it was planned or not, but the bartenders seem to have more room to move than the servers and customers, which adds to the cozy feel on our side of the bar. There are a couple of intimate booths for two and several larger ones in the back. High-tops cling to the walls of the room and Rondo’s colorful tables line the garage door-lined front. When warmer weather returns, the garage door goes up, opening the restaurant to the sidewalk.

This is not a beans-and-rice Mexican restaurant; the focus here is on tacos. The menu presentation for drinks and food is clever and puts the guest in control of the ordering. It’s a grazing menu with price points conducive to sampling a variety of tastes and flavors. This is food-truck food in a brick-and-mortar environment, which is clever and ironic at the same time since chefs restricted by the high costs of opening restaurants drove the food-truck invasion and now here it is, inside out.

The five starters and 11 taco choices are presented on a card you use to order by checking your choice and quantity. You can also tailor your order by scratching off listed ingredients. We started things off with some queso fundido a la tequila, a bubbling dish of gooey cheeses with tomato, jalapeno and cilantro served with tortillas and corn chips. It was warm and satisfying with a mild cheese flavor and tequila kick on the back end that hit the spot.

The tacos are small, so plan on trying a few. Each taco is served in its own little cardboard boat lined with waxed paper. There are extra sauces available if desired. I would recommend tasting first as the flavorings and seasonings are pretty much on the money. The brunette went with two: carne asada and the chicken and chorizo. I dove in for three: barbacoa, grilled shrimp and the pork belly “agridulce,” loosely translated as “bittersweet.” I went back the next day for the BBQ pork, crispy fish and chicken “tigna” — chicken seasoned with smoky, chipotle chilies.

Each taco has its own garnishes, like traditional cilantro, queso fresco, pico de gallo, red cabbage and radish. Others have modern twists, like Sriracha tartar, fried capers and pineapple pico de gallo. All of the garnishes work well with most of the primary ingredients. The brunette mentioned after trying her tacos that her mouth was burning hot. I didn’t come across this until I had the shrimp taco, and the sensation felt like the numbing heat of habanero. There was no mention of it on the menu, so I had to ask. It turns out the avocado salsa, which here is a smooth puree, is also jacked up with spice — too much so. Normally the mild avocado is used like sour cream or crema to temper the heat, so it was surprising the culprit of the hidden burn was in the avocado.

The kitchen has a state-of-the-art mechanical tortilla maker, but for whatever reason the restaurant makes these small, 3-inch tortillas and uses two per taco. This is problematic when it comes to eating the taco, so make sure you have lots of napkins. Getting the fully loaded taco out of the cardboard boat rolled and ready to eat in one piece is tricky. Three-inch tortillas are for cocktail parties. The tortilla should easily wrap around all the goodness inside so you can hold it and eat without everything falling out. It’s like the difference between spinning vinyl 45s and LPs — you can relax and enjoy the LP.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Vinyl Taco

WHERE: 520 1st Ave. N., Fargo

WHEN: Mon.–Thurs., 4 p.m.–midnight

Fri. and Sat., 11 a.m.–2 a.m.

INFO: 21+, (701) 365-8226

Recently in:

BISMARCK– The debate over whether the state needs an ethics commission has been ongoing for years, four times defeated by the legislature. This year, however, concerned citizens turned to the power of the initiated measure, and…

There will be a rocking event on coming this Thursday called Night Bazaar by Folkways. Night Bazaar is an event highlighting the community with a full spectrum of unique experiences, food, music, art and performances. Night Bazaar…

Thursday, August 23, 5-6:30 p.m.Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. NDr. Craig Howe, Director of the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies (CAIRNS), will lead an art and poetry workshop in conjunction with the…

On August 14, The Bismarck Tribune reported that “A popular insecticide could be banned for agricultural use.” Popular as it may be I can think of a whole slew of adjectives that would be more appropriate like questionable,…

Well, Mr. President, Have You No Sense Of Decency Sir, At Long Last?We might have another flag debate in this country. We still see the Confederate symbol flying in activities promoted by white supremacists on the streets of…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

By Ben Myhre benmyhre35@gmail.com If you are a gardener in the area, you know that this is the time of year when zucchini becomes plentiful. In fact, many have a tough time using all of it. You may see just a small little zucchini…

Woodstock: even people who were born years after the original three-day music festival recognize the name. The event, which took place between August 15th and 18th at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in southern New York and attracted…

Elsie Fisher’s Kayla Day is the lonely but indefatigable middle-school protagonist of first-time feature filmmaker Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” a winning addition to the pantheon of the adolescent cinematic bildungsroman.…

It may be cliche to say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but when wet plate artist Shane Balkowitsch found out that his 15-year-old daughter Abby Balkowitsch was following in his photography footsteps, he was…

By Stella Mehlhoffstellamehlhoff@gmail.comAs I stared out of Guthrie Theater’s Amber room at a bird’s eye of the cityscape and river below, I hardly took in the night lights, my mind was too focused on the art I had just…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

When I was first introduced to the traditional spirit of my ancestors, Akvavit (or aquavit), I never thought I’d ever find myself standing next to a giant “Viking” ship while comparing different brands of the “water of…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

Well, after nearly a dozen years of delay, it looks like Billings County is finally going to build a bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora. The county posted a notice in the Federal Register on October…