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:

News

​Expecting suicides

by C.S. Hagen

BISMARCK – Jessie Quinn and J.S. may soon have two choices: relocate, buy black-market opioids, or commit suicide, and Quinn’s options are even more limited. At 65 years old and after 25 years battling degenerate spinal issues,…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.com“North Dakota (and Minnesota) nice” is an attitude, a stereotype, and a way of life that has permeated our region, as well as perceptions of the Midwest, since as long as people have been…

Friday, March 22, 6-8 p.m.Red Raven Espresso Parlor, 916 Main Ave, FargoDigital photos from North Dakota’s backroads. Hornung has been exploring the roads less traveled for close to a decade. Carefully documenting and collecting…

It is possible, even ethical, to stand behind Israel and criticize the nation at the same time. No country, no man or woman, is without fault. While we at the High Plains Reader believe the U.S. House of Representatives’…

The Battle Between Extreme Capitalism And Democratic SocialismAfter Vice-President Mike Pence representing racial and extreme capitalism ended his scathing rant about democratic socialism at the Conservative Political Action…

The eighth week of this year’s HPR Cocktail Showdown was another tripleheader for our panel of judges. On this particular week, we found ourselves focused on a trio of downtown dining and entertainment establishments to visit…

In rural Minnesota, outside of Park Rapids, Amy Thielen was attempting to light her wood-fired oven. It is in her brand-new kitchen that she hopes to teach cooking classes out of, which is a far cry from what it was when she and…

The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra has had its fair share of guest performances headlining its concerts over the years. They all have impressive resumes, their fair share of awards, and worldwide recognition. However, bringing…

The 19th Fargo Festival begins on Tuesday, March 19th and runs until Saturday, March 23. Continuing a tradition of excellence in local arts programming, the event provides both casual moviegoers and cinephiles with multiple…

Hidden away in the tiny North Dakota town of Lefor I find Karen Valley, an author and an artist. She is without a doubt the artist’s artist. Her soul is art, talent and words. Meeting her is a true experience in finding a soul so…

To many people unfamiliar with the wide range of the musical genre, the word ‘opera’ conjures up stereotypical images of people in period costumes and large women in Viking garb singing in foreign languages. The truth, however,…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

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 Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

I’ve got a problem. I need to write a column that is going to be kind of critical of three people I like, and I’m trying to figure out how to do it without making them all angry at me. Their names are Sara, Doug and Marvin.…