WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: Al fresco dining at the kitschy cool TacoLot
DesBrisay Dines

WEEKLY LUNCH PICK: Al fresco dining at the kitschy cool TacoLot

TacoLot serves up "clean California feel good food" in a parking lot

I didn’t coin the term so I take no credit, but I did have to chuckle when I first heard someone refer to the “Hintonbourgeois” to describe the food-obsessed residents of the west end neighbourhood that recently acquired its own taco stand. The implication, I take it, is that Hintonburg attracts a particular demographic of vintage-loving, free-spending, educated artsy types.

It’s a gentle ribbing at a group that may be destined to become the next wave of lifestyle tastemakers (and breakers) in this city. One thing is certain: every chef, restaurateur, and independent food business now has his or her eye on Hintonburg.

Judging by the California cool vibe and l-don’t-care-what-you-think ‘tude of the neighbourhood’s new ramshackle taco stand, TacoLot, I’d say the Hintonbourgeois may now have its headquarters. It doesn’t hurt that the owner, Jon Reilly-Roe, is no fancy-pants chef. He’s just a courier company owner by day, rock n’ roller by night (you might catch him hosting open-mike nights at Hintonburg Public House) with equal parts ambition and hedonistic swagger. In other words, he’s got foodie cred.

TacoLot owner Jon Reilly-Roe was tired of waiting around for someone to open a taco stand

The fact that Reilly-Roe (even his name is cool!) is just a guy who loves tacos explains why there’s something almost amateurish (though you might want to call it rustic or grassroots) about the operation. It hasn’t stopped lineups from forming for lunch and dinner since Day One. In the end, the no signage, anti-cookie-cutter thing is all part of its appeal.

When I stopped by for lunch on a sunny afternoon last week, the tables (at least the ones that haven’t yet been stolen) were full of happy eaters. On the menu were four choices of tacos (these change regularly): Adobo Chicken, Casabel (sic) Pork (presumably named for the cascabel chili), Thai Shrimp, and Vegetarian. I sampled all but the veggie option. I liked the way the soft corn tortillas got slightly crispy on the flattop though I’m not sure it was intentional; the bright orange fish roe added visual interest to the shrimp taco. All fillings tasted fresh though indistinguishable after the hot sauce took effect on my taste buds. Between the little salad; juicy pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, onions an chilis); cucumber, corn, pineapple, and watermelon, we walked away feeling light, satisfied, and filled with fruits and veggies — ready to head next door for a gourmet doughnut for dessert.

Cost: $10 for double taco platter served with rice n’ beans and salad; $5 for a single taco

Hours: Open Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.

TacoLot, 995 Wellington St.