Nevermind the name. Tako Truk doesn’t have wheels—it’s permanently planted in Eastlake—and the munchies are made in the stationary kitchen of 14 Carrot Café. Still, the walk-up station from Cormac Mahony, formerly of Sitka and Spruce, makes for quintessential street eatin’ culture: The menu often rotates and is cheap (boats of three tacos for $5), the hours are limited (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights), and the surrounding sidewalks swarm with hordes of eager eaters.
Instead of dropping an entire $10 bill on just tacos, I opted for a single boat (two pork and one beef—showing up around 10 pm tragically meant the trademark octopus tacos were sold out) and a cup of the mysterious “Green Drink,” which turns out is mint limeade ($2). I was happy with my decision—the drink came in handy for dousing the fiery spices that engulfed my tongue and lips. My buddies were so smitten with the pork they had to go back for seconds.
How long have you been going at it?
[Cormac Mahoney] We’ve been open since Memorial Day. We opened for a few days before that to get our legs under us, but Memorial Day was when we really hit the ground.
Where do you post up, and why?
We’re in my neighborhood [at 2305 Eastlake Ave. E], so my commute’s just a block and a half, and the 14 Carrot’s not open at night so I saw a kitchen going unused. When I lived in Centralia I ran a night diner for pretty much the same reason so I had experience using someone else’s kitchen.
Why did you choose your un-mobile setup?
It was basically because I had a kitchen available, so why would I go for a truck? The whole idea was to serve hot, spicy bar food out on the sidewalk; it’s not just another restaurant, and not a real taco truck—it’s a sidewalk party. I figured this would be a way to get people back out on Eastlake. We built a regular clientele quickly, and it wasn’t just young people like us either—suddenly we just had this wide range of age diversity, well-established professionals sitting out with a brown bag bottle of Heineken eating tacos. Now people are coming from around the city.
What’s the must-try item?
I get bored pretty quick, so it varies. I like selling the octopus just because a lot of people haven’t had octopus. Another is the pork belly with the little baby French fries. The crunch of the potatoes totally masks the idea that we’re asking you to eat fat. I love fat, but I guess some people are more worried about what they put in their mouth.
OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES:
• Kurt Beecher Dammeier takes a love of pork to a new level
• Rodney Jones serves delicious soul food at Gert’s BBQ
• Meet Roz Edison of Marination Mobile
• Meet Adria Shimada of ice cream truck Parfait
PLUS: Map out these and other street carts according to their daily locations.