Friday, June 17, 2011

Tacolicious - Fried Pork Belly Taco & Braised Chicken Taco

Tacolicious is in the middle of their guest chef series, and each week they are featuring a special taco created by their guest. This week was pork belly, and you know how much I love pork belly! Others must have had the same idea because the queue for Tacolicious at the Ferry Building today was the longest I have seen it. Was the pork belly good enough to break into a song?

Thursday's guest chef at Tacolicious was Thomas McNaughton from flour + water, an Italian restaurant in the Mission. His creation: a Fried Pork Belly Taco with calabrian chili and salsa verde. All proceeds from this special taco (as well as the rest of the guest chef creations) benefited CUESA (the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture), which also runs the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. I also chose a Braised Chicken Taco and a house-made Chorizo Potato Taco off the regular menu for a trio. Rounding out my meal was an addition of chips and salsa.

The queue moved relatively quickly, and the people who took my order were very friendly. Within minutes I was ready to dig in.

I'll begin with the Fried Pork Belly Taco. It looked really yummy, and when I first tried a piece of pork belly on its own, I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor. It's not Chairman Bao melt in your mouth pork belly, but rather more like pancetta, with a crispy, jerky consistency. It's served over slices of zucchini, and topped with greens. I loved the greens; they had a nice salty bite to them. Actually, I enjoyed each component much better individually than together because they each had such distinct flavors. Together they weren't bad, and I did enjoy my taco while I was eating it. However, it was super much so that I actually had oil dripping down my arm and pooling on my plate.

Next up was the shot-and-a-beer braised Petaluma chicken. This was pretty spicy but with certain sweet undertones. It was topped with cilantro and onions, and I thought that the veggies were a nice fresh complement to the very rich chicken. I also liked that the spice didn't kick in right away but rather lingered on the tongue for a bit until a few seconds after my bite—then bam! It added to the complexity. The chicken was a bit on the dry side, but the sauces compensated for that. However, this taco, too, was extremely greasy and oily. I am sensing a trend here...

Unfortunately, Tacolicious got my order wrong. So while I was expecting a Chorizo Potato, I instead got another chicken taco. At least if they were going to mess up my order they could have given me something different. That was kind of a let down, and so I ate my third taco very much disappointed.

The chips and salsa were very yummy, though. They were thick, sprinkled with sea salt and reminiscent of the tasty treats from Casa Sanchez. A little on the greasy side too, but it wasn't nearly as overbearing as the tacos. They were probably my favorite part of the meal. These and the tortillas. I thought the tortillas were made very well.

I was really looking forward to trying Tacolicious, and while I did like the flavor combinations, I thought the execution was far too greasy. It was too heavy, and the taste of oil quickly became overbearing, so much so that the grease drowned out the main focus of the dish. Had it been less oily, both tacos would have gotten a much higher score because the potential was definitely there. Because the flavors hold so much promise I am interested to visit again to see if perhaps this visit was just an during an day.

Fried Pork Belly Taco Rating: 1.5/5
Braised Chicken Taco Rating: 1.5/5 (ratings guide)

Tacolicious (@tacolicioussf), $3.50 per taco, $9.00 for three, $2.00 for chips and salsa

Does reading this make you want to try this vendor? Tell them that you saw them at I Left My Cart in San Francisco and support San Francisco street cuisine!

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