Hunger Street Tacos: Tale of the Taco
Hunger Street presents delicious, authentic creations that include grilled cheese, fried avocado, and hibiscus flower.
Joseph Creech grew up a missionary’s son in Guadalajara and Acapulco (“I was a beach kid,” he says. “I hate the beach.”), and while the family moved to Central Florida when he was 6, he and his brother David still spent summers south of the border. In his college years Joseph moved back and fell in love with the street foods of Mexico City. The Creech boys bring those influences to Hunger Street Tacos with delectable tacos, quesadillas and tostadas that define the real Mexico.
An impressive array of tacos, with ingredients that inlcude fried avocado, seared brisket, shredded chicken and chorizo. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)
Creech calls the suadero (3.75) “the only taco native to Mexico City,” normally using a cut of beef not readily available in America. So here, marinated brisket is seared on a hot flattop before adding cilantro, lime and an avocado-tomatillo salsa that contrasts beautifully with the deep meat flavor.
Everything on the menu is vibrant and influenced by Mexican flavors. Sautéed hibiscus flower and guacamole ($3) is a most unusual combination of flavor and texture and “very big right now in Mexico City.” Two dishes that leap from classic to fusion are “Grilled Cheese” ($4), melding halloumi, refried beans, Serrano-lime salsa and mint; and a panko-fried avocado wedge ($3.75), served with shredded cabbage, pepper-lime crema and salty queso cotija from Michoacán.
Hunger Street Tacos
Creech originally rejected the food truck model, roaming Orlando and creating popups with two camp stoves and a $100 tent. His cooking so impressed 4 Rivers creator John Rivers that when the barbecue king’s original Fairbanks location became available, he helped Creech secure the spot. The tiny former tire store is decked with murals painted by the highly political Mexican collective Lapiztola, including one of the food market in Cuautitlán Izcalli, Mexico, called La Calle del Hambre (Hunger Street).
The Creech brothers see authentic Mexican cuisine to be as sophisticated as any French kitchen, and bring a fervent passion to their remarkable food. The little setting that gave birth to the 4 Rivers empire might just be the lucky location of our next great food destination.
Black Rooster Taqueria (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)
More Taco Stories
The exact origins of the taco are shrouded in legend, myth and outright fabrication. But just about everyone can agree what a traditional taco looks like. . .what goes inside in our pan-cultural fusion age is another matter.
Bartaco brings a South American flair. The chain, stretching from Connecticut to Colorado, is inspired by the beach culture of Brazil, Uruguay and Southern California and creates items such as chorizo, ancho-crusted tuna, tamarind-glazed duck and even falafel tacos. The Orlando location is on Dr. Phillips Boulevard, just off Restaurant Row. bartaco.com
We can’t neglect John Calloway of Black Rooster Taqueria, who won my Best Chef nod for Dining Awards 2017 by taking Mexican and Colombian influences and adding the skill of a very creative chef. The smoky achiote pork, slow cooked in a banana leaf for 36 hours and served on hand-made corn tortillas, is sublime. Mills 50 District. blackroostertaqueria.com
Craving City Tacos brings Baja Cali flavors to Casselberry. The menu includes pork chorizo served with nopal cactus pads in a blue corn tortilla, roasted beef tongue, and barbacoa de Borrego—slow-cooked lamb in roasted chili salsa from Central Mexico. facebook.com/cctacos
El Patron, a full-on burrito and enchilada place, offers “artisan tacos” including such treats as cangrejo (soft shell blue crab) enrobed in Dos Equis beer batter, and 24-hour braised short rib tacos. South Apopka-Vineland Road. elpatronorlando.com
Four Rebels American Taco Kitchen & Bar serves unabashedly “American” tacos like Buffalo chicken, cheeseburger and the KFT “Kentucky Fried Taco” with chicken, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy. Mills 50 District. 4rebelstacos.com
Herbert Tinjaca, former co-owner of the Kalbi Hau5 food truck, pulls the focus from grilled meats and brings a guacamole flair to the GUACAMOLI CO truck, with five styles of avocado spread including an amazing pomegranate variety. Tacos spotlight the guac and add chicken, beef barbacoa or tofu on fresh corn tortillas. guacamolico.com
The Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa empire now encompasses the original Mills 50 location and Lake Nona. But expansion hasn’t stopped owner Thomas Ward from turning out some of the best handheld fusion beauties around, including the popular butter chicken tikka, smoked brisket La Vaca Tahkaw, and Korean charred chicken and “kimcheeze.” pigfloyds.com
It’s odd to think that a restaurant that opened in 2011 can be considered a veteran, but Tako Cheena came at the forefront of the “fusion” taco and still serves up Asian-marinated beef, char sui pork and Latin flavored mojo shrimp on generous tortillas. Mills 50 District. mytakocheena.com
The Taste of Yucatan offers specialties of the peninsula not normally found in American taco joints. The deep-fried salbute corn tacos make a sturdy base for simple al pastor pork with pineapple or Mayan sour orange-marinated pork. Owner Joal Rodriguez told me that renovation begins soon to change from fast counter to full table service, including a full cocktail bar. South Semoran Boulevard, just north of Curry Ford Road. thetasteofyucatan.com
The owner of the Gringos Locos chain opened Tin & Taco last year with “craft tacos, craft beer and craft soda. The downtown location serves creations like the Notorious P.I.G. (slow braised shredded pork, craft beer queso, spicy “boom-boom” sauce and cotija cheese); and the Taco Bomb (Angus ground beef, pico de gallo, Jack and cheddar cheeses and potato sticks). All are available poured into a bag of Doritos for that “I miss dorm life” appeal. tinandtaco.com