As Lloyd Taco Trucks surpasses five years of slinging tacos, burritos and more from lime-green trucks, mystery still surrounds Buffalo's first new-wave mobile-food vendor.
When will the brand's brick-and-mortar restaurant on Hertel Avenue open? Which of Lloyd's specials will make the cut onto the restaurant's menu? Why has owner Pete Cimino sprouted such an aggressive beard?
Friday's birthday party at Artisan Kitchens and Baths in Black Rock wasn't a time to answer questions about the progress of Lloyd Taco Factory, but it did hint at the direction of Lloyd's fare. The celebration of a milestone featured a prize wheel, raffles, a cash bar and the debut of three new tacos and one dessert. [Read Andrew Galarneau's ode to Lloyd]
A short discussion with Lloyd co-owner Chris Dorsaneo at the event revealed that the trio of newcomers will be added to the group of rotating specials on the food truck, and then at Lloyd Taco Factory, when it opens (date still unclear). Depending on their popularity when offered, it's possible that any of these three could make the regular menu.
Here's a breakdown of the three tacos:
Tennessee Hot Chicken: double-dredged buttermilk fried chicken, cayenne pepper bath, cole slaw, dill pickles
Response: Given the success of the Dirty South (a rare Lloyd special mimicking chicken and waffles), it's not surprising that the Tennessee Hot Chicken would be well received on Friday. The crunch -- both from the crispy chicken and coleslaw -- was welcomed, but my companions and I thought the chicken could have spent a little longer bathing in cayenne pepper. If Lloyd pushes the limits with non-Rocket-Sauce-based heat, they could have a winner here.
Our odds that it reaches regular menu: 25 percent
Luca Brasi: Garlic roast pork, broccoli rabe, toasted pine nuts, Parmesan crumble
Response: The comments on the Luca Brasi were mixed -- I really liked the bitterness of the broccoli, the subtle flavor of the porchetta and the smart additions of the pine nuts and Parmesan. Not everyone appreciated the subtlety of the flavors as much as I did, though. (If you couldn't recall, Luca Brasi is one of the chief enforces for Don Corleone in "The Godfather."
Our odds that it reaches regular menu: 15 percent
Vegetarian Guest Star: mushroom Philly, with seared mushroom medley, sautéed peppers and onions, cheese dip
Response: Lloyd has been respectful of those seeking vegetarian options from the beginning -- both tacos and burritos are available with a black-bean base, while the Tricked-Out Nachos and rotating special Spicy Thai (tofu-based) are also meat-free. In the VGS, tender mushrooms embrace the starring role; consider this taco like a healthier version of a Philly cheese steak, not unlike the Big Lloyd-Big Mac relationship. As an omnivore, I probably wouldn't cheese the Vegetarian Guest Star, but it's another welcomed addition for some of Lloyd's customers.
Our odds that it reaches the regular menu: 15 percent
Kimchi Fried Rice: House-made kimchi fried rice, hoisin-lacquered roast pork
Response: The kimchi was a little more sour than spicy, but the roast pork was both tender and fatty (my piece was a little overly fatty, but I didn't mind because it wasn't gristly.) Like the Southwest Potato Salad and the Corn and Bean Salad, perhaps the Kimchi Fried Rice fits in as a side dish.
Odds it makes the regular menu: 25 percent
Goat Cheese Cheesecake: chevre goat cheese, salty caramel sauce and oatmeal crumble
Response: This is not the first time that Lloyd has offered the cheesecake -- the dessert spent a brief time on the truck and was well-liked. While the non-crust portion was creamy and not particularly sweet, the caramel sauce and crust were strikingly salty. This would have been exceptional if the salt levels were tempered considerably.
Our odds that it makes the regular menu: 90 percent
Email Ben Tsujimoto, whose favorite Lloyd taco is the crispy fish, at email@example.com