El Tako Nako fails food truck fanatics

Food Columnist Ally Donberger reviews the latest addition to the University’s food truck lineup

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El Tako Nako has joined the food truck options available at the Amphitheater. 

Ally Donberger | Cavalier Daily

The food truck scene at the University offers students a reprieve from dining hall swipes with Plus Dollar options featuring a diverse array of cuisines. The 2018 fall semester has brought new classes, but also a new Mexican food truck — El Tako Nako.

When I heard that there was a new taco food truck to try, I was so excited. The Greek and dumpling trucks never disappoint, and the addition of tacos to the Plus Dollar menu seemed too good to be true. This proved to be correct.

I got in line at around 11 on a Friday morning. The wait for me was around five minutes, although the line from 12 to 1 p.m. is significantly longer. The truck has a relatively large selection of different taco combinations available to order. I tried three different tacos — chicken, chorizo and steak. Each taco comes with raw and caramelized onions and cilantro. I got mine without cilantro.

Each taco was $3.00. I also got a water bottle, which totaled to $10.54. The amount seemed pretty expensive for the size of the tacos and the amount of meat on each one. The presentation of the tacos was also disappointing. They were given out on paper plates. A takeout container would have made it easier to manage for carrying it around Grounds or protecting the tacos from inclement weather.

The truck offered a small range of sauces to top the tacos, including guacamole, mild salsa, spicy salsa and limes. I used guacamole and mild salsa. The guacamole was in a squirt bottle, which made it very watery. There were no tomatoes or onions visibly present in it, which are critical components of a good guacamole. The mild salsa was a green sauce as well. It had more flavor than the guacamole, but did not have much of a distinct taste. 

The tacos were double-wrapped in small corn tortillas and the consistency was that of rubber. They were chewier than normal and having two with each taco just intensified the problem. I ended up removing the extra tortillas, which was a waste. It was unnecessary because I did not have any issues with my taco spilling while contained in a single tortilla.

The chicken taco lacked flavor. The chicken was well-cooked but did not seem to have any seasoning. It was very bland, even when doused in salsa and guacamole. The chorizo taco was my favorite of the three. It had a hint of spice, but overall did not have much flavor either. I found myself wanting more sauce or seasoning on the meat.

The steak taco was the worst. It tasted like fish. The oil it was cooked in was overpowering, giving it the fishy flavor. I was unable to finish this particular taco because of the taste. I was concerned it was not cooked correctly. Even salsa and guacamole were unable to cover the fishiness. It left a horrible aftertaste in my mouth that persisted for about an hour after I had finished eating.

More toppings for the tacos could have improved them. Tomatoes, cheese, sour cream and/or better guacamole could add some much-needed flavor and better texture to the tacos. The caramelized onions included were too crunchy and needed to be sautéed longer for more flavor and better consistency.

My trip to El Tako Nako was severely disappointing. I had heard a few good reviews from fellow classmates, but failed to see the appeal of the tacos. I would much rather have spent $10.54 worth of Plus Dollars at one of the other food trucks, Rising Roll or West Range. If the wait is any longer than five minutes, I would highly suggest choosing another location for lunch. I will not be returning.

Ally Donberger is a Food Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

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