Main Location: Minneapolis (so far)
It seems we have our very first internationally-travelled Food Truck. Having just opened this first week of June, Topolo Tacos is based from the similarly named (and mascoted) “Topolo Wine Bar” located all the way in Matzatlan Mexico. A husband-wife team, one from Mazatlan and the other Minnesota, it seems the wife recently decided to come back to her home town to start up this mobile venture with their Son.
Looking like the back of a sombrero, or something you hit with a stick to get candy, Topolo’s offerings are obvious even before viewing their name. Tacos, Tortillas and Salsa become the mainstays, filled with Pork, Steak, or Chicken, sharing the menu with Picadas (what they describe as “Mexican Sliders”) topped with the pork.
My first thought upon viewing was “Oh god, the tortillas are dry…” Lo-and-behold I was happily wrong! In fact they were GRILLED, with nice markings and a bit extra flavor to the MASA goodness. They only use one though, vs the traditional two-layered… but with tortillas on the side, one can easily use to pick up the BARE spillage. Before diving in, I of course had to top these little packages with a couple of their various hot-sauces, labeled via Chile used (as it should be… who cares about heat level, I wanna know the FLAVOR). And yes, unlike the insane person next to me, I stayed away from the Habanero (I don’t quite think he understood, as he put about a tablespoons worth or more on a single taco).
Any and all excitement brought on by their tortilla and flavorful salsas was lost, however, upon biting into the actual meat. Though it tasted good, the Steak slices which I had gotten were noticeably chewy, and recalled experiences of poor onion rings with 75% of the fried shell left behind. The pork on the Picada (I got one a-la-carte to see) was flavorful and had a nice texture at least, but it didn’t taste all that amazing or fantastic, or even “authentic;” just simple.
When comparing these fillings to other Taco trucks/stands/etc, such as Taxi and Tacqueria, the difference is quite clear. Authentic tacos aren’t just meat with salsa on top; the protein is cooked IN the spices, IN this little sauce and marinade, coating it in its rich and tangy little glaze, each protein getting its own unique one. They get it so the only toppings needed are some simple chopped onions and cilantro (maybe tomato, raw). At the end, they create this almost ephemeral experience of meat and sauce and spices that, by purely separating them out, Topolo is notably lacking. They do at least seem to have some flavor/sauce mixed in the pork, considering it’s shredded, but it’s not much.
As for the Picada, it was a very interesting item, if small. However, I think they need to change its description; a Slider is sort of predicated on having both a bottom AND top bun. Picadas seem to be more like Mexican “Tarts” or “Crostinis” depending on the size (crostinis for these). But, this thick little patty of masa, a little pork, tomato, and queso on top, maybe some salsa… mmm, it was a nice little bite. Now they just need to make them bigger, improve the meat, and stop calling them sliders (don’t wanna confuse people, these are NOT Arepas… even if made with a similar dough).
Oh, and the fire-roasted salsa with tortillas had a good flavor and spice to it, not too much and one gets the fire-roasting. I did find irregularly small and large chunks of cooked tomato… but I’m not sure if I actually like that or not. On the one hand, consistency obviously an issue, but on the other its sort of fun to get those random big pieces of tomato on a single tortilla (and it IS just a salsa, who cares?).
Easy to walk around and consume with both hands. I’m not really into getting a side of tortillas with my street food, but for those that do I find this place nice. Comes in the same basket as the food, can eat on the go with little issue. Despite its small stature and lack of a top, the Picada actually holds its pork surprisingly well; just like a good crostini should.
I might bringing up the annoyance of the tough steak, but as it still enters your mouth or just falls back into the basket it becomes more an issue with the Food scoring.
$7 for the Chicken, $8 for the others and $8.50 for the Picadas (which, despite their uniqueness, seems a bit much considering how small they are, and how little meat is on top compared with the tacos). What’s nice is they offer Tacos and Picadas a-la-carte on the side, $3 per. Though, when one’s paying $7-8 for two of them and they cost lest sold single… I guess those tortilla chips are pricy huh?
Average wait time, though one can’t help but wonder if it should have been sooner… I might quote time it takes to grill the tortillas, but I get the feeling those MIGHT have been done ahead of time. As far as I know, the steak might have been kept warm-n-ready too, especially judging by its texture. However those are all just theory and assumption, no detailed proof of the matter.
The TOE: 5
When it comes to Taco Trucks, a place needs to be one of two things: either REALLY authentic, or REALLY contemporary/different (and good). Though the design is fun and the owners are nice, I find them reaching neither goal; they attempt for authenticity, and even bring in a new Menu item that I haven’t seen before (I learned something!), however they currently have not reached that point yet. Thus left hanging in the gray world of limbo, they find themselves doomed to wander the line of average taco stands… doooooooooooooooooommmeeeeeeedddd (… as one can see, I’ve been watching a bit of Futurama lately).
Hopefully this designation is only a result of their highly-recent debut; nothing would make me happier than to see them improve come the next month or so.
Definitely the stop for all those people who like getting that side of tortillas with their Hola Arepa or other Mexican Truck. Tortillas and salsa come in automatically and on the same plate, making eating and walking even easier.
If one isn’t interested in Tortillas, and finds themselves unable to find the Taxi or Tacqueria, try getting the Tacos just a-la-carte. That way one can hopefully end up paying only $6 for two of them as opposed to $8. If I may, I suggest the wandering foodie get one of the Chicken Tacos (probably the only really enjoyable protein) and one of the Picadas; though not amazing, it’s a different and unique experience, so why not go for it on the first run?
That’s my opinion so far, let’s see if it changes in the coming months.