The hits, they just keep on a-comin’!
After a very bleak winter on the Hartford lunch truck scene we have been treated to a veritable deluge of variety and quality since the spring of 2011. The latest is Lucky Taco, the brainchild of David and Erin Emmons. Veterans of the Austin, TX restaurant scene, they have taken their skills to the friendly confines of Bushnell Park.
First off, I’ve been “lucky” enough to visit Austin about half a dozen times, with road trips from Houston to the hill country and out as far as Big Bend, and I think I have actually eaten at Magnolia Cafe, where David formerly worked. That is a hash-slinger of a 24 hour joint known for cheap and good eats. petebrunelli.com contributor Craig Caldwell says it’s a “hippie joint” and a descendent of The Omletry! Either way, I have given Lucky Taco as much word of mouth around work as I can, and have also been eating a ton of their food.
About that food: they do a fairly narrow thing, and do it very well. The tacos are very tex-mex, very hill-country, and very good. The ingredients are not beating you over the head with sauce and heat like you might get in combo-plate mexican fare. The flavors are lighter, cleaner, and more distinct. You get your choice corn, flour, or wheat tortillas. The small cups of red salsa and salsa verde are just the right size to compliment a taco without smothering it. Their Pork Carnitas taco is the most overtly flavorful, and I think it is the star of their pork/chicken/beef lineup. All three are good, but the pork seems a little better. That is probably the sear on the shredded pork speaking to me. They also make three types of veggie tacos, and the “portabello fajita” is the standout in that trio. In each case there are three very good options, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Did I mention breakfast? On my visits to Austin I have been indoctrinated into the magical goodness of “migas”. These are basically torn tortilla pieces, usually softened up with some salsa verde or pico de gallo (or maybe just water…), and folded into fluffy eggs. They are addictive, and *nobody* makes migas here in the northeast. If they do, they probably suck at it. Lucky Taco to the rescue! The migas alone are worth the trip. Fluffy, delicious, filling… get some of their very good coffee with it and you have a solid breakfast for about $5, maybe less. here’s a tip: two migas tacos and a soda or iced coffee for a slammin’ lunch.
Pricing? Tacos are $3, and they run breakfast and lunch specials every day. They make a franken-dog creation that I have not thrown down for yet. I’m saving that for a special event. They also make quesadillas, and they look great too. Just in case that wasn’t enough, black beans and chips make a nice snack or a way to add some variety to one or two tacos. They also have sides of refrieds, and a chip and salsa side.
Editorializing: as a fan of both food trucks and efficient catering practices I am fascinated by places like Lucky Taco. They can deliver their very good ingredients in a variety of ways without it seeming like the same thing in each dish. That is harder than it sounds. Dave is a machine behind the flattop, and he doesn’t seem to miss a trick. I have eaten wayyyyyy more of their food in the past week and a half than I would like to admit and every item has been on the money.
Conclusion: These folks are setting up right next to the Agave Grill taco/burrito cart, which is also very good and very fresh, and still doing very well. The two styles are very distinct, but that could easily be lost on the casual eater. Obviously I am saying “Eat Here, ASAP”. And I mean ASAP. Today I showed up early for lunch, was third in line, and there were about eight people stacked up behind me before I ordered. With food like this they don’t need luck, but they got it if they need it.