A tradition at breweries that don’t have operating kitchens is to feature rotating food trucks on busy nights and during special events. It’s sort of a roulette of food that can bring about some fun surprises.
But Gravely Brewing Co., which opened this summer in the Phoenix Hill/Irish Hill area, has a permanent truck — it’s there every day. What that means is whenever you go to Gravely for a craft brew, you’ll have Mayan Street Food at the ready to help fill any missing space in your belly.
The menu, which is posted on the side of the truck and also can be found on small cards at the bar, is simple, with just 12 items: four snacks/appetizers, four tacos and four salbutes, which are traditional Mayan-style tacos.
And while there may not be a lot of variety, there’s quality and consistency, much like its sister business, The Mayan Café. (No lima beans, though. Sorry.)
I had the guacamole as an afternoon snack a couple of weeks back, and that was enough to entice me to try the rest of the food. The fresh-made dip features plenty of avocado hunks — you can tell when guacamole is premade, and this isn’t — topped with chunks of mango and cucumber.
I despise cucumbers, so I ate around those. But pairing the mango with the guacamole was a cool touch.
When I returned, my girlfriend, Cynthia, accompanied me, and we, of course, ordered guacamole. For our meals, she chose a pair of veggie tacos, and I ordered a pair of chorizo salbutes (all tacos come in pairs and are priced at $6-$10 per pair).
When you order at the truck or from the bar, you give your name, and your food will be brought to you. If you prefer, you can wait for it on the deck and dine al fresco.
We chose a seat inside, and our meal found us quickly and was served in cardboard boats. It all came out at once, so the salty tortilla chips and guacamole became a side item.
Cynthia was happy to relieve me of the cucumbers and reported that eating all three at once made a flavor combination that was unique and tasty. I was tempted to try it, but my hatred for cucumbers stopped me. I’ll stick with the smashed avocadoes.
My first visual impression of the tacos and salbutes were something like, “We’re going to need more food.”
Indeed, while they were visually pleasing, they looked quite small for the $4 apiece we spent on them. But true to their appearance, the flavor and quality were impressive.
The salbute is a thicker, fluffier shell than a simple tortilla. These were a bit crispy on the edges, but softer inside, with a pleasing corn flavor.
They weren’t as pliable as I had expected, but they made for a nice vessel for the mild Mexican sausage, tomato and corn salsa, cilantro, shredded Chihuahua cheese and cabbage.
In fact, there was a lot of cabbage, so much so that I worried it might mute the flavors. Quite to the contrary, the flavor blend was just right, with the slight spice of the chorizo balancing with the mild cheese, and the unique cilantro flavor making frequent appearances. The cabbage provided a fresh, crispy character, and a mild jalapeno sauce was a nice touch.
Cynthia’s vegetarian tacos were topped with nearly translucent slices of radish and packed with black beans, queso fresco, jalapeno sauce and pickled onions, but the focal point was plenty of grilled cactus, which made these some of the more unique tasting tacos I’ve ever had. I’m just glad she was willing to share, as the cactus reminded me vaguely of grilled asparagus. Delicious.
And the good news was that, when we were finished, we weren’t left wanting for more. What looked like small portions ended up being just right, once the guacamole came into the fold.
Other tempting options at Mayan Street Food include smoked salmon salbutes, fried plantains and Mexica street corn. The frijol colado, a black bean dip with chorizo, looks like a winner as a starter, as well.
Mayan Street Food makes good use of just a handful of ingredients, with a few different salsas with combinations like pineapple and poblano, and tomato and roasted corn. The fish tacos, made with Kentucky silver carp, also will be on my short list on must-tries when I return.
Mayan Street Food is behind Gravely Brewing, at 514 Baxter Ave. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 4-11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m.-midnight.