Mission Taco Joint
If you travel outside of the Americas, you will come to the terrifying realization that you no longer have easy access to Mexican food. A quick burrito or taco lunch is replaced by doner kebabs, popiah and Thai curry sold in plastic bags. I don't mean to disparage these. They're all good-to-great lunch choices, but they lack the Southwestern & Mexican spices that make my heart flutter. I fell into such a deep depresión that I resorted to buying a $15 beef burrito at Baja Fresh Singapore, which is no better than Baja Fresh America. The best place I found was Lucha Loco, which had really good dishes with high quality ingredients, but it was $11 A TACO. Quesadillas were $16. The Chile Relleno was $27. How many times have you gone out for Mexican food and ended up with a bill over $100?
To celebrate the 4th of July, my family decided to head down to Mission Taco Joint in the Loop. Owned by the busy Tilford brothers (Milagro, Barrister's, Tortillaria), Mission Taco sells tacos, burritos, tortas and a handful of starters and sides in an industrial-chic space.
Before even looking at the tacos, I knew "we" wanted a platter of the [symple_highlight color="blue"]huitlacoche empanadas[/symple_highlight]($9). Huitlacoche is an earthy tasting fungus that grows on corn, with a taste that is somewhat like a truffle. The masa dough is filled with roasted corn, poblano peppers, huitlacoche, Chihuahua and goat cheese, then fried until crispy on the outside and ooeygooey inside.
They were awful.
They were a tiny bit heavy of the goat cheese, but what's not to love about a slightly smokey, cheesy, crispy pocket dipped into a flavorful salsa?
Even though I would have liked to get a bowl of chips, some guacamole and a trough full of queso, I restrained myself and just went for the tacos. We started off with the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Grilled Baja Fish Tacos[/symple_highlight]($3). Wood-fired fish topped with a chipotle baja sauce, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo and queso fresco. I liked this fish taco more than my previous favorite from La Tejana.
Next up is a blurry photo of the a few other tacos we got. In my defense, no one was really in the mood to wait for me to take pictures, so this was me attempting to get things done more quickly. The two at the top are the ChileRoasted Duck tacos ($3.50) with an avocado Serrano sauce and little bits of crispy pork belly carnitas on top. I like all those things. I like all those things together. I like this taco.
Below was the [symple_highlight color="blue"]wood-fire grilled Carne Asada tacos[/symple_highlight]($3.50) topped with arugula, the same avocado Serrano sauce as the duck, and some queso fresco. Excellent.
I also got the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Nopales Taco[/symple_highlight]($3.00), but forgot to get a picture of it. I imagine not many people go straight for the wood-fire grilled cactus with chile poblano, pickled onion, goat cheese and jalapeno salsa. If you enjoy spice and the flavor of roasted peppers (think Chipotle's fajita veggies), you will definitely like these. It's hard to pick favorites, but this might be my favorite of the meal.
To close out our lunch, we decided to give the [symple_highlight color="blue"]Mofu Tofu taco[/symple_highlight] ($3.25) a try. This seemed to be the heftiest of the tacos and while the char-grilled tofu didn't have a ton of flavor, the ancho BBQ sauce made up for it. That stuff was great. If it was on the table, I would have poured it all over everything.