Maureen McMullen, Multimedia Journalism
Downtown Fargo is a hotbed of Mexican food. With five other restaurants and food trucks offering south-of-the-border fare, tacos aren’t hard to come by in Fargo’s epicenter. A modern aesthetic and flavors that are otherwise hard to come by in Fargo-Moorhead make Downtown’s newest Taco eatery a truly unique experience.
“Vinyl Taco means tuned-in music, turned-on tacos,” said Warren Ackley, owner of Vinyl Taco.
Where: 520 1st Ave. N.
Hours: 4 p.m.-2a.m. Monday-Saturday
Tuning in to music on Vinyl
So, how where does “tuned-in” music come into play at Vinyl Taco? The restaurant’s vibrant mosaics, featuring icons Jimi Hendrix and Johnny Cash, are testaments to Vinyl Taco’s preferred music.
The restaurant, which opened mid-October, plays music exclusively from the late 60s through the 70s, selected by bartenders– all on vinyl.
“It’s all on vinyl; it’s all on turntables behind the bar,” said Ackley. “The bartenders are the DJ’s, the ;DJ’s are the bartenders.”
Turning on to unique flavor
Vinyl Taco’s menu offers 11 “the most flavorful tacos you will have in Fargo-Moorhead,” Ackley says. Of the restaurant’s distinguishing elements, flavor and freshness are paramount, he said, from the tortilla machine that churns out 3,500 fresh corn tortillas a day to its tantalizing uses of peppers.
“We’re very unique to other Mexican restaurants in the fact that we use all fresh ingredients and very flavorful peppers in all of our products,” said Ackley. “Whether they’re marinated in the meat or whether it’s toppings, it’s all very spicy and very unique to this area.”
While Vinyl Taco holds fast to a standard of freshness and flavor, the friendly service and one-of-a-kind details added to time-tested favorites made the strongest impact on my
My meal started with chips and guacamole. The typically simple appetizer got a zesty addition, topped with radish shavings. The chips, still warm when they arrived at my table, were clearly freshly-made.
When the server came to take my order, I realized I’d been too busy greedily scarfing down chips and guacamole to make a selection from the menu. Taking my server’s suggestion, I ordered the pork belly (agridulce) and vegetarian tacos.
The pork belly taco consisted of sweet and sour pork belly, red slaw and tobacco onions. The au jus served alongside the pork belly made for a succulent treat, but also made picking up the taco a challenge.
The vegetarian taco was piled with creamed chipotle corn, pico de gallo, black beans and avocado salsa and drizzled with blanco crema.
Each of the ingredients in the vegetarian taco complement each other’s flavor without losing their individual boldness.
While Vinyl Taco’s fresh ingredients and unique attention to detail, yield delicious food, they won’t rack up a pricey tab. Each of the 11 “turned-on” tacos on the menu cost less than $5.
Full bar quenches a variety of thirsts
Unlike its counterpart, JL Beers, Vinyl Taco offers a full bar. Following its penchant for thinking outside of the box, Vinyl Taco’s bar offers kegged margaritas, served in 16- and 32-ounce milk jars, five beers on tap and, their specialty, Hot Head.
A Vinyl Taco specialty, Hot Head is a jalapeno-infused beer. The jalapeno infusion in Hot Head delivers a noticeably fiery flavor that is surprisingly refreshing with food. While it’s an excellent accompaniment to wash down a meal with, I can’t imagine downing more than one on its own.
The unique experience offered by vinyl Taco is completed by its bartenders. Acting as DJ-mixologist hybrids, each bartenders are charged with making a selection from the 600-album collection of 60s and 70s classics on vinyl.
Elijah, Head Bartender
Favorite drink: Ryebuck; Rye whiskey, lime juice and ginger beer
Favorite item on the menu: Pork Belly Taco
Favorite vinyl to spin: “I can’t pick a single album,” Elijah said. “But the Rolling Stones is probably my favorite from our catalog here. So, The Rolling Stones and The Animals.”
Favorite drink: “I don’t drink a whole lot, but [my favorite drink is] the old-fashioned,” said Doug. “I like the way we changed it up a bit. It’s the traditional old-fashioned, plus we have the cherry and the orange in it. We went back to the original old-fashioned.”
Favorite item on the menu: “I lived in Mexico for three years,” said Doug. “So, there’s items on the menu like the [chicken] tinga and the agradulce [pork belly] that I haven’t eaten in like three years because nobody has them. So, it’s the most authentic Mexican food in town.”
Favorite vinyl to spin: “My favorite music to play here is any of the Johnny cash albums that we have,” said Doug.
Favorite drink: “My favorite drink to make is probably the Vinyl Sunrise,” said Flo. “It is Lunazul Reposado Tequila, pineapple juice and hibiscus, with some rosemary.”
Favorite Item on the menu: Shrimp Tacos
Favorite vinyl to spin: “Probably Johnny Cash and Hank Williams,” Flo said.