Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rusty Taco: First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions

Rusty Taco
2801 North St

I was trying to figure out what to eat for lunch today and since I have nothing but bare bones in the larder (and have been picking up things from La Michoacana as I need them) I was then stuck trying to remember a place I wanted to go that I don't go to all the damned time.  Then I remembered that a new taco joint opened recently (May 18th) on North Street in that weird location next to Subway that was at one time a hot dog place and another time a smoothie (?) place.  I checked on google maps for their location which places it on North Drive and University which is not even close.  The home site lists the Nacogdoches location as opening in June.  So I called, and not only were they open but they are until 10pm on a Sunday night.  That's pretty awesome.  I checked out the menu.  Yup, tacos, for lunch it is.

The parking lot is still a drive-in layout but there seems to be ample outdoor seating at picnic benches, though I was pleased there was in-door sixty-eight degree indoor seating.  I was grumbling to myself about them not having a bike rack when an employee (a manager) came up and said hello and, "We really need to get a bike rack."  I had to laugh.

Rusty Taco has a fairly simple layout with sit down counters next to the kitchen and a small but comfortable dining room.  Order at the counter, standard stuff.  One potential problem I see for ordering, especially when the place is busy, is managing the flow of traffic and queues.  There's a large upright cooler blocking space where you walk in and order.  It wasn't a problem when I went (after one pm on a Sunday - good luck finding a place that's not packed with church crowd in this town) but as I was eating I noticed a bit o f a bottleneck with people looking at the menu, people walking in, and people trying to get their orders.

The menu consists of a baker's dozen of tacos and there are breakfast tacos!  Booyah!  I went with the #2 Roasted Pork Taco, #3 Beef Fajita Taco, and the #11 BBQ Brisket Taco along with chips & salsa.  With a drink it was the standard lunch price of under ten bucks for one person ($2 a taco).  They have three different sauces (habanero, verde, and standard red) so I gave all of them a try.

The Roasted Pork was solid roast pork.  Moist and tender, with pickled onions and cotija cheese, yup.  Nice work.

I was underwhelmed by the beef fajita.  Not that it was bad in the least but it was just kind of bland and it didn't have the sear/char I like on my beef fajitas.

The BBQ Brisket taco, however, was pretty frickin awesome and more than made up in taste for the fajita.  I was particularly pleased with their lime slaw.  Hell, I would get a side of their lime slaw if they offered it.  The brisket was shredded and plentiful and the BBQ sauce was an accent and didn't overwhelm the meat or the slaw.  I will definitely be getting one of these again.

Of the sauces I liked the habanero the best.  It actually wasn't that hot and had a good citrus note to it.  The verde was standard verde.  The red was just too mild for me (and had a peculiar ketchup-y aftertaste).

The salsa wasn't bad, tastes the same as El Ranchero's, but was cold which was a drag.  I don't mind cold salsa if it's really chunky and more on the pico end of salsa than liquidy but the smooth stuff, gotta be warm.  The flavors blend better.  Cold, you just get tomato flavor.  A minor complaint and one that I'm sure I'm in the minority for having.

The staff was friendly and outgoing, the interior was tidy, tables were clean, there wasn't a huge amount of crap on the walls (I'm starting to get annoyed with restaurants that have too much crap on the walls), the wait wasn't long at all (I think I've waited long in crappy fast food joints), and I was full but not overfull for my bike ride.

Definitely worth checking out.  Let me know when you're going, I want another BBQ Brisket Taco and there are a couple more styles I want to check out (particularly #13 The Texican and the jalapeno sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast taco).

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