Publisher Letter: Tacos Reign In June
Tacos Reign In June
As an Orlando native, born and raised in Central Florida, I’ve seen the shaping and continual evolution of our city’s vast landscape. Where horse farms once stood, the RDV Sportsplex stands now; the old Bubble Room in Maitland now boasts a Buca di Beppo, or the naval base that now encompasses Baldwin Park. Some spots hold more meaning than others, but one in particular holds a special place in my orange-blossom shaped heart.
It was a Just Brakes on Fairbanks Avenue, down the street from the well-known Skycraft Surplus. The building was painted a bright, almost obnoxious shade of green and yellow, until one day, it wasn’t. Just Brakes had sold the property to a one Mr. John Rivers, an Orlando local with a knack for making some amazing, mouth-watering BBQ. He transformed the once-brake shop into the first 4Rivers Smokehouse location, opening their doors in October of 2009. Within the first hour, a line had formed out the door, then around the corner. I saw that line and, without hesitation, jumped in without knowing what the end result would be. And then I had a taste of their BBQ; a Texas Destroyer, John’s hand cut signature Angus brisket, topped with onion rings, jalapeños, melted provolone, served on a brioche bun and smothered in their 4R Signature Sauce. BOOM! Tastebud nirvana was reached and I was hooked. For years, I stood in line for 4Rivers in the rain and the heat. On particularly hot days, they would put a self-service lemonade stand outside to ease the wait.
Soon enough, 4Rivers was too big for this small space. They moved down the street, but something magical moved in its place; B&B Junction, a farm-to-table burger and sandwich joint with the chops to stand up to even the toughest 4Rivers critic. Their buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with watermelon-jicama slaw, watercress and hot sauce was particularly memorable. But one day, they closed their doors too.
And then, murals started going up on the sides of the building, signs were replaced, and a new local hot spot, Hunger Street Tacos, was born. There is no denying my affinity for all things Hunger Street. Their tacos, their tortillas, their specials (hello Birria Machete), and consistent quality make it a must-try for any Central Floridian yearning for a quality fast-casual experience. A product of the incredibly talented Creech brothers, Joseph and David, Hunger Street’s mission is to highlight and celebrate food from the markets of Mexico City.
This month, we celebrate the winner of the 2023 Orlando Taco Bracket, exploring Hunger Street and 30 other places in Central Florida known for their tacos. We’ll learn about the origins of the taco, the many varieties of tacos, and so much more! Tacos aren’t the only thing worth celebrating in June; it’s our Bi-Annual Wedding Issue too, filled with local love stories, a handy Wedding Reception chart, and the winners of the 2023 Best of Wedding Awards. In Food & Drink, Brendan O’Connor gives us an update on the latest Michelin additions, while Wendy Lopez of Reyes Mezcaleria fame wows us with all things Mezcal. Finally, we’ll meet some of the business, civic and educational leaders who work to bring about positive change and enhance the quality of life in our community in this year’s Women Who Move The City feature.