The Kentucky Taco Company took a long and sometimes bumpy route toward launching its Southern-fare-meets-tacos food truck concept in the spring.
As Insider Louisville reported previously, the owners’ initial plan was to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and they went so far as finding a location in Clifton. Unfortunately, city planning officials wouldn’t zone the location to allow the restaurant to open.
And so, owners Steve Higdon, Wil Limoges and Charlie Neal went to Plan B — launching a food truck. Higdon had previously co-owned Urban Kitchen, so it seemed like a natural step — and a tasty one. I recently tried Kentucky Taco Company food for the first time and came away fairly impressed.
The truck’s core menu is simple: four types of tacos, a chimichanga and a pair of sides. The tacos are fun spins on homespun recipes many of us enjoyed as kids, such as the Sloppy Joe Taco, packed with classic ground beef and sauce, plus pimento cheese, french fried onions, tomatillo ranch and topped with a couple of pickle slices.
My girlfriend Cynthia and I decided to do a dinner share, so we ordered a Sloppy Joe, a pulled pork taco, a fried chicken taco, and a side of macaroni and beer cheese. The whole shebang cost us around $13.
We were pretty hungry, so we first annihilated the mac and cheese, which was thick, perfectly cooked and satisfying, even if we didn’t really get the sense it was specifically beer cheese. It actually reminded me a bit of my mom’s macaroni and cheese, and that’s a compliment. It also wasn’t seasoned much, so you might want to add a bit of pepper, but regardless, it was belly-pleasing comfort.
The chicken taco was perhaps the narrow winner of the three, with chunks of fresh white meat, lightly breaded and fried with a bit of spice that falls just short of the popular Nashville style, which brings more full-on heat. Also in the taco is a layer of the mac and beer cheese, which provided a nice balance and an interesting creaminess against the seasoned chicken crust. It’s topped off with a couple of pickle slices to complete a supremely tasty and unique taco.
We also loved the aforementioned Sloppy Joe, which had a nice tangy flavor balanced by the pimento cheese, and an interesting crunch from the onions, even if they didn’t assert themselves a lot in the flavor profile. What I liked was that while it was reminiscent of the Sloppy Joes I remember from my youth, it also bore a vague resemblance to a chorizo taco. And if you were wondering, yes, there’s plenty of leftover grease, so grab some napkins.
Unfortunately, I believe we had a stroke of bad luck with the pork taco. While all three tacos were topped with the tomatillo ranch, the pork taco seemed to have more than its share, and it did seem to upset the flavor balance just a tad. But the unlucky part was that most of the meat was a clumped mass that not only was difficult to bite through or pull apart, it seemed to have dried out in the center.
Other bits of the bourbon-braised pork I found in the taco were far more tender and quite flavorful, but for some reason, this huge, gristly hunk just wasn’t a pleasant find. Again, I think the intent behind the taco probably is pretty darn tasty — I think it was one of those mishaps of pulled meat. Sometimes a bone or some gristle sneaks in. In this case, it was a tough mass of pork.
The menu items we didn’t try (although I plan to) were a vegan version of the Sloppy Joe, made with cauliflower, and a creature called a Kentucky Hot Brown Chimichanga, which is stuffed with smoked turkey, tomato jam and The Missing Link bacon in a tortilla, deep fried and topped with bourbon-spiked beer cheese and smoked tomatillo. In addition, there is an edamame succotash available as a side.
Honestly, the chicken and Sloppy Joe tacos are worth the visit to Kentucky Taco Company, and there’s enough there that a couple of tacos make for a decent-sized lunch or a small but satisfying dinner.
The owners are ramping up local appearances; look for the truck this Friday, July 1, at Apocalypse Brew Works.