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Taco Joint | Velvet Taco
Tacos might be the last thing you’d expect from a collaboration between Pei Wei co-founder Mark Brezinski and FrontBurner, the restaurant group that owns Twin Peaks. Well, except that tacos are one of the hottest local trends of the year, along with burgers. (Guys, please don’t open a burger chain.) But the tacos are pretty darn good. They bear no resemblance to the modest street snack of Mexico. They’re gringo tacos, no question, with all the herbed goat cheese, pea tendrils, and ahi tuna a yuppie could desire. They’re also a global mishmash, with flavors from Asia, Mexico, India, the North, and the South. But they make everything on-site: the rotisserie chicken, roast tomato chutney, even the moist, chewy corn tortillas.
The No. 5 is classic Brezinski, with fried paneer, a firm, mild ricotta-like Indian cheese; tomato chutney; raita; and Thai basil. It’s so spicy that it’s popular with nonvegetarians, too. For wary traditionalists, there’s the familiar Buffalo-style chicken with spicy-hot white-meat chicken, celery leaves, carrot curls, and ragged chunks of blue cheese. On the other end of the spectrum is wild mushroom with goat cheese, fried purple potatoes, onion chutney, and sprouts, wrapped in a lettuce leaf instead of a tortilla. In the middle: a trio of luscious egg tacos, including one with bacon, cheddar potatoes, and mustard greens, for $2.75, available all day. Elotes, with queso fresco, queso listo, crema, and lime, is so fresh that you can see the guy with the unenviable job of shucking corn all day.
Velvet Taco tries to please everyone, including the environmentalists, with its ecofriendly packaging, and perhaps the most important group of all, the après-bar folks, with its late-late weekend hours.