One ‘America’s Favorite Streets’ has a new addition to it’s ever evolving food landscape. Mission Taco Joint has joined the crowd in the Loop and is bringing with it a similar twist on traditional Mexi-Cali fare that its sister restaurants Milagro and Tortillaria have been serving up in their respective locations. You’re not going to find long extensive book-like menus here and with their focus on bringing street food to the table, you shouldn’t expect it. There’s not a hard taco or quesadilla in site. The repetitive Mexican flavored soundtracks have been nixed, and you’ll never have to worry about someone placing a sombrero on your head singing you Feliz Cuplianos for your birthday. Their mission: to make you think differently about Mexican food and forget that places like El Maguey ever existed.
When you walk up to Mission, you’ll be greeted by a crowd of diners waiting for their seats to open up, casually standing in a open area in front of the bar with a few tall tables pressed against the wall. This is a no reservations type joint, so if you’re looking to be sat immediately, good luck. The decor isn’t anything too fancy, so there’s not a lot to distract you during your wait. It’s a half baked design that teeters on the edge of a modern style beach shack, dulled down by blank walls that lack character . The restaurant is littered with staff that are dressed like mini Guy-Fieris sporting branded patches, giving off the scent of a corporate restaurant. Bartenders scurry about, hastily mixing margaritas in shakers with an entertaining moraca-like rhythm, livening the place up. After a few short moments of soaking this all up (and it really is a short wait), you’ll be shuffled through the ranks of hungry customers and seated where the real show begins.
If you were expecting traditional Mexican, you’ll see hints of that on the menu. However, much of the americanized dishes have been left off, leaving you with a small two-sided list of selections that is very reminiscent of a street vendor’s menu. Of course, tacos are the highlight, but there are a few other staples like tortas, burritos, and taquitos. In lieu of a tequila heavy bar, the agave liquor has been replaced with a decent draught selection that any beer snob would be pleased with.
On my visits, I started off with the chips and salsa. guacamole and crab taquitos. The chips and salsa is served as two salsa flavors: a traditional style and a rotating ‘Salsa of the Day’. The salsa I was treated on that day was a satisfying ancho chili blend that was equally as smoky as it was spicy. The taquitos were magnificent, and I could have easily made a meal just out of those with the chunks of sweet crab complementing the crunchy tortillas.
Entrees were up next, and I went with every flavor of taco they offered with the exception of the MOFU and chicken (because those just sound boring) and the Ahogada torta (pulled pork). The tacos are served on a futuristic taco holder that allows all the ingredients to rest in the housemade tortillas ready to be consumed. For the most part, they were all delicious and beautifully crafted. They ranged from super traditional to incredibly inspired with the very traditional nopal (cactus) to the roasted duck. I liked the duck taco so much that it was a part of all of my visits and each time it sang the same beautiful lyrics on to my palate. It may have been a bad idea to have tried the duck taco before diving into the torta, as it was rather unremarkable.
Overall it’s a pretty inexpensive meal, offering up family and foodie friendly dishes. Tourists and natives alike have another solid food adventure awaiting them in the Loop. I only had a small sample size, and even though it’s a compact menu, I have a mission to come back for more.