I was back in the states for 2 days and my lovely friends Michaelann and Eowyn wanted to get lunch with me. We went to the Rusty Taco, a pretty reputable Minneapolis taco establishment.
Any taco joint will automatically gain points by serving on a corn tortilla, they are my favorite. But in all honesty, I don’t think the Rusty Taco is all that great. It seems like the kind of place that people rave about only because they are used to the basic ground beef with the packet of seasoning smothered in cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and Ortega type tacos (see previous post about The Munch). If you are new to eating great tacos then this place will be good, if you’ve had some fucking awesome authentic Mexican tacos then they won’t hold a candle.
The Rusty Taco has lots of options and upon reading more Yelp reviews after the fact, the fried chicken taco and shrimp taco seem to be the winners. I unfortunately did not have those. I ate “The Rusty Taco”- a marinated shredded pork taco with pineapple (I go absolutely weak at the knees for anything with hunks of pineapple in it, that sweetness mixed with savory meatsies gets me every time), the “Roasted Pork Taco”- sea salt, pepper, and garlic slow roasted shredded pork with pickled onions and cotija cheese, and the “Fish Taco”- Fried (or grilled) fish with red cabbage and chipotle creama.
The Rusty Taco was pretty flavorless and kinda soggy. Even with added lime and their habanero salsa it was still pretty lack luster. The habanero salsa had good flavor but not nearly enough heat. This taco would be greatly improved with more crunchy. Toss that meat in a skillet just before serving, put some sliced radishes on as a garnish, or even taco pickles. Overall, this namesake taco only gets a 3 out of 5.
The roasted pork taco also left much to be desired. The meat wasn’t too bad but again could have used an Emeril Legasse amount of BAM! flavor. If I were making these tacos I would have used half the amount of cheese and double the amount of pickled onions. As with the Rusty Taco, these tacos only earned a 3 out of 5.
The saving grace, the fish taco. The crunchy red cabbage complemented the fried fish really well, and looked really pretty too! The fish was surprisingly tender and not soggy like some fried fish can be. A little more of the chipotle creama could have been added but all in all this was much better than the other 2 tacos. I’m just sad I ate this one first. 4 out of 5.
I would like to add at the end of this that although I didn’t eat it, one of my friends got a ground beef taco. Not sure if it was the Gringo or the Texican taco. Either way, without much complaint, she quietly hid the remaining half of the taco under a napkin and an empty serving boat. I think this was a sign that it was not good.
I don’t want to make it seem like if it is not an authentic Mexican taco then I won’t like it. That’s definitely not the case. Yes, the authentic tacos have been the best so far, but as a guy serving us meat at the counter of a Mexican grocery said when we asked what kind of salsa goes best with al pastor meat, “just pickled onions, you have to let the meat shine.” So far, authentic tacos have been the best because the meat is out of this world and it’s not overshadowed by crazy toppings.
As I mentioned earlier, the shrimp taco and fried chicken taco got the best reviews on Yelp. Their breakfast tacos also sound pretty awesome. Rusty Taco, you have not seen the rest of me. You have a chance to redeem yourself.
Overall the Rusty Taco earns 3.5 out of 5 stars.
At the time I ate these tacos, my taco count was at 89.