Review: Tacocracy

The Northside International Airport is neither international, nor an airport:  discuss.

In reality, it’s an old dive bar, renovated into a home for boutiques and restaurants, decorated with old airline seats and luggage and mementos of travel past.  It’s a quirky concept, housing a quirky restaurant in what is probably Cincinnati’s quirkiest neighborhood.  In other words:  NIA and its anchor restaurant, Tacocracy, fits right in.

Tacocracy, which opened just a couple of months ago, is the newest addition to what I’m calling “Cincinnati’s Taco Smackdown”, and I think they might win an award for “most creative”.  They are not super-authentic, but they’re not trying to be.  They’re taking tacos and turning them on their head to delicious effect.

We walked in one weekday night, after a friend said that I needed to try it.  We ended up ordering all seven available tacos as well as some queso to get a full picture of their offerings.  Seven tacos, for the record, is far too much for 2 people, though the tacos did make excellent lunch the next day.  Two tacos a piece is a good amount, if you’re going to add a crock of guac or queso.  For seven tacos, two sodas and some queso, the bill was $27.  Not bad.

Our favorite taco, by far, was the Duck Taco: a crispy, homemade shell filled with shredded, slow-cooked, juniper-and-apricot infused duck and pear de gallo– a pear salsa– and some sharp white cheddar.  I would come back just for this taco: it was unique, delicious, and well-executed.

My second favorite taco was the Korean beef, slow-cooked in a Korean BBQ sauce and topped with napa slaw.  It’s different from Taco Azul’s version (I don’t recall the beef being shredded, for instance) and definitely a fun choice, particularly with the pineapple salsa.

They also have a mashed potato taco. Not kidding, here: it’s a carb-lover’s fantasy.  Mashed potatoes stuffed into a homemade crunchy corn tortilla, topped with sharp white cheddar, roasted corn and black-eyed pea salsa and sriracha crema.  It manages the rare combination of comfort food with sophisticated flavors (and it’s vegetarian).

If you’re a vegetarian, they also have the I Hate Tofu and Mushroom tacos. The I Hate Tofu taco, filled with braised tofu, tomatoes, onions and lettuce is good, if a little watery because of the tomatoes and lettuce.  The mushroom taco has black truffles and balsamic, and is surprisingly rich and meaty.

The adobo-curry taco was just a little too overpowered by the curry that I didn’t notice any adobo spice and the green chorizo, which was just average, didn’t quite stack up to the others, but aren’t bad bets.  The queso was a favorite of The Better Half, but I was not terribly enamored, mostly because the chips were thick and store-bought.  I’d have preferred homemade, like their crunchy taco shells.

They’ll have a liquor license soon, and will be expanding to lunch hours as well.  Keep the taco wars coming– we all benefit from some innovative taco-making. Now, if someone could just teach me how to pronounce Tacocracy without sounding obscene half the time…


Tacocracy on Urbanspoon