Taco-dillas / Photos by Nick Brandi
Owner Adrian Hurtado is a multigenerational taquero who serves up creative twists on authentic tacos in Pound Ridge.
Adrian Hurtado is a multigenerational taquero. For those whose high-school Spanish is rusty, a taquero in Mexico is one who loves or makes tacos. Hurtado is primarily the latter (though he lays claim to being both, despite being rather annoyingly flaco), which he proves Thursday through Sunday in Pound Ridge from the kitchen of his popular food truck, Taco Guy.
Hurtado began making his food-service bones in childhood, at his father’s Bridgeport restaurant, Super Taqueria Las Salsas, a collaboration that continues to this day. He’s also had successful runs at such high-profile NYC watering holes as Please Don’t Tell (the speakeasy-style cocktail club secreted behind a phone booth), Pouring Ribbons, and ATLA NoHo. But it’s Taco Guy that affords Hurtado, a Mexican by birth, the independence he craves while making the food he loves.
Thanks to the high standards he learned at his father’s knee, Hurtado infuses both authenticity and uniqueness into every item on his menu. While eschewing the tomatoes and chipotle that often accompany chicken tinga tacos, for example, Hurtado instead spikes his fantastic iteration with authentic Mexican sour cream (aka crema, a creamier, richer version of its American cousin), bay leaves, guajillo chiles, and salt in chicken that is slow-cooked for at least three hours. Also a fan-fave are the carnitas — the exact formula for which is a closely guarded family secret, which is no great surprise when you consider that Hurtado’s birthplace, Morelia, in the Mexican state of Michoacán, is also regarded as the birthplace of carnitas. What Hurtado would divulge is that he uses the juicier leg and shoulder sections of the pork, which he fries in reused lard to maximize the flavor of an offering that is further piqued with pico de gallo, cilantro, and pickled onions. The tummy, of course, is set aside for the pork belly tacos (also cooked carnitas style), which Hurtado adorns with cilantro, onions, avocado, and salsa.
Incidentally, don’t think that Hurtado’s penchant for rich, succulent flavors means he’s forgotten about his vegetarian and vegan customers, whom he sates with his veggie taco and bean taco — the latter of which, with its pinto-bean base and fried guajillo chiles, is quite tasty.
Last but not least are Taco Guy’s beef tacos. Here, Hurtado goes the extra mile by using cecina steak, cut into small pieces that come from the leg and neck of the cow. For some patrons, this will be the pièce de résistance, owing to comparatively juicy and aromatic cuts of meat that are dry-rubbed the night before with a combo of salt, ancho and guajillo chiles, onions, and garlic, then set to marinate overnight. Hurtado says that it’s not unusual for the cecina steak tacos to sell out well before the end of a shift.
Early-riser (or anytime-riser) taco lovers should definitely try the Breakfast Taco-dilla, Hurtado’s take on a taco-quesadilla hybrid. This monster sports refried beans, bacon, Oaxaca cheese, cilantro macho, and avocado in ancho chile oil — all under an auspiciously golden fried egg that willingly spills its creamy-soft yolk throughout its crispy raft as soon as you fold one of Hurtado’s signature handmade heirloom (gluten-free and amazing) tortillas, with corn straight from Oaxaca and a source of pride for their purveyor. There’s also a Chicken Tinga Taco-dilla, with avocado, Oaxacan cheese, and queso fresco sprinkled over the top. Both are bewitchingly good and will fill you faster than a gas pump in a go-kart.
More good news: Taco Guy is available for private events. Hurtado also sells fresh guac and homemade salsas to go, right from the truck, which, btw, sports a bright and beautiful custom-made mural of Hurtado’s family on its non-serving side.
“The people here have been so welcoming and supportive,” says the 30-year-old Hurtado. “Everyone is so nice. I really love this community.”
Perched on Westchester Avenue, directly in front of Kahlo Collective, early returns suggest that Taco Guy has found a nice home in Pound Ridge.
65 Westchester Ave; Pound Ridge
For catering, call: 203.307.0422