I have a coworker, Roberto, who makes absolutely incredible pork tacos whenever we have a potluck. These tacos — called cochinita pibil — require lots of preparation, a full day of marinating, and then another half day or so of slow cooking. After all of that, they are greedily consumed within minutes of being placed on the potluck table, leaving only a sad empty banana leaf in its place. He gave me the recipe once and I gave it my best shot, but wasn’t quite able to replicate his success. Which is why, when Roberto began raving to me this summer about a new taco food truck that he couldn’t get enough of — unappetizingly called Rusty Taco — I knew I had to give it a whirl. For one reason or another, I didn’t make it during food truck season. Luckily for me, Rusty Taco recently opened up a brick-and-mortar store not far from my place!
A few weeks back, Sam, Liz, Sarah, and I were looking for a place to eat before a lecture we were attending at the U of M. We needed something quick, easy, and close; Rusty Taco seemed to fit the bill.
Ordering at Rusty is pretty simple. The menu is made up of twelve varieties of tacos, priced at either $2.50 or $3 a piece. For sides, your options are chips with salsa or pico ($2) or chips with guacamole or queso ($3). They also offer tap, bottle, or canned beers ($4-$5) and margaritas ($5). Each of us ordered one or two tacos, a side, and a beer (to get us through the lecture, of course!).
You then grab your beverage and select a table. Don’t expect to sit with just your drink for long though! Our orders were up at the counter before we had our jackets off.
We each went up as our numbers were called and received colorful beer trays lined with checkered wax paper and loaded up with our dinners in paper boats.
Sam and Sarah both ordered Fish Tacos ($3). The red cabbage and bright cilantro made them look mouthwatering!
Elizabeth got the Fried Chicken Taco ($2.50). While not as visually appealing, she said that the jalapeno ranch dressing and lime coleslaw gave it fantastic flavor.
As for myself, I couldn’t resist the namesake Rusty Taco ($2.50) when the girl at the counter recommended it. The mention of achiote-marinated pork reminded me of Roberto’s recipe, and I was curious to see how this might compare. Plus, the spicy sweet pork and pineapple combination appealed to me. I have to say, it was really tasty! Not good enough to beat Roberto’s — he might read this, so I’d better be careful what I say! — but for $2.50 and zero time investment, not a bad alternative!
The chips and guacamole that I got were fresh and flavorful, although the guacamole was a bit heavy on the onions for my taste. Also, in my opinion, the chunks of each component — avocado, tomato, onion — were too large to accomplish a proper blend of flavors in each bite. Next time, I’d rather order an extra taco and skip the side altogether.
A tip for the first-timers: Rusty Taco offers three sauce options to add at the counter: Mild Tomatillo, Medium Red, and Crazy Hot Habanero. All four of us girls like our food hot, but maybe don’t make the mistake Sarah did of dousing her taco in the Crazy Hot. She couldn’t taste anything else and pretty much had to guzzle her beer to recover!
We were in and out in less than half an hour, off to the lecture just in the nick of time (only to end up in the overflow seating anyway, shoot!).
The taste, convenience, and reasonable pricing of Rusty Taco has won me over. This is definitely going to be a regular part of my weekday dinner routine this winter.
Bright and fun. Casual counter service makes it an easy hang for a group.
The girl at the register was quick to suggest her favorites, and the food came out lightning fast.
Cute and easy. All of the tacos were presented attractively, open for you to personalize with a squirt of lime or hot sauce before rolling and eating.
The fresh ingredients make for tasty tacos.
Value for Dollars
At just around $10 for a filling meal and a beer, this is a great value!
Don’t take my word for it!
The Rusty Taco
522 East Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414
508 Lexington Pkwy S.
St Paul, Minnesota 55105
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