On a cold September night we headed down to the West Brunswick to try Taco Truck, sister truck to Beatbox Kitchen. Having read about these two mobile food trucks a number of times, and with a kitchen renovation in full swing, I was keen to sample Taco Truck’s wares when I saw its location would be at the tennis courts on Victoria Street.
On offer the evening we went were chicken, fish or potato tacos, at $6 each or $12 for a plate of two that comes with some additional fried corn chips. We seemed to get a couple of extra tortillas thrown in.
The tacos are actually a soft tortilla, which I like. The grilled, lightly spiced chicken tacos were served with corn, and the fish taco is served as a fish goujon with red-cabbage coleslaw and lime mayonnaise. Available at the counter is a selection of hot sauces you can add to taste. If you opt for a taco other than the fish, you can have yourself a gluten-free meal.
While it’s evident that the tacos are made to order from fresh ingredients, I was underwhelmed by this meal. It lacked that little bit of pizzaz that would have made me go ‘wow’ and return. My experience overseas seems to have created certain expectations. Melbourne just doesn’t seem to be able to come up with great Mexican food (and yes, I have been to Mamasitas and was similarly underwhelmed).
Adding to my disappointment was the long wait time for our food to be ready, which was well over 30 minutes. On a cold and dark night, this is not a pleasant experience, especially when you are hungry, however hip it may be. Quite frankly, we could have gone to Con’s Take-Away on the corner of Victoria Street and Melville Road for a hamburger with the lot (made with a home-made patty), chips and potato cakes. This would have represented much better value as it would have cost less and been ready sooner.
Given all this, I’m not sure how sustainable the business model of this kind of food truck is. At the moment Beatbox Kitchen and Taco Truck are the innovators in mobile food that is something other than doughnuts, hot chips, hot dogs and ice-cream. But what will happen with the advent of competition, that may bring better food prepared more quickly? Or when people simply get sick of sitting or standing around for 30 minutes plus for what is essentially a form of take-away food?
The whole hype over mobile food trucks is quite perplexing to me. It’s made even more irritating by the uncritical pronouncements of some food bloggers that we need more of this type of thing, or newspaper articles that fail to situate this new turn in mobile food/ temporary food-stalls (‘pop-ups’) in the history of such things, or acknowledge that mobile food trucks also exist to serve other markets, such as industrial estates or communities with limited access to fresh food. As a counter to this, I recommend reading Phil Lees’ recently posted critical analysis of the mobile food truck phenomenon. It’s well worth a read.
For other reviews of Taco Truck check out Hookturns, That Jess Ho, Where’s the Beef?, Dave plus Food (According to Dave I don’t deserve to eat. Thankfully he mentions nothing about having an opinion), and Eat Drink Stagger.
If you really want some kick-arse fish tacos, Bill Grainger has a great recipe, which I’ve made several times and recommend.
If you are keen to try out Taco Truck, follow them on twitter for location updates: @tacotruckmelb
Con’s Super Deli & Take-Away
49 Melville Road