A number of local mobile kitchens have spawned brick-and-mortar restaurants during the past few years. But a food trailer serving a brick-and-mortar? That will be a first when Naco Taco opens in early May.
The food trailer houses a fully operational kitchen that’s attached to the Central Square restaurant. It has three large windows that open to the front patio, a space adorned with string lights, set off from the street by large planters and roomy enough to fit more than 80 customers. The outdoor setup is meant to channel the food-cart scene that’s popular in Portland, Oregon, and other cities.
“In a lot of places, food trucks are able to park on empty lots,” says co-owner Alex Tannenbaum. “But there’s not really any empty lots in the greater Boston area.”
The scene inside Naco extends the casual vibe, with cement floors, exposed brick walls, an eclectic mash of tables and chairs seating more than 100, large neon signs and even a few arcade machines in the back corner. And while there might be a carefree energy as the food arrives on sheet pans covered with paper, rest assured the menu came together under the careful eye of consulting chef Michael Scelfo.
“It’s all really true to Latin flavor profiles and Mexican street food,” says Scelfo, chef/owner of Harvard Square’s Alden & Harlow. “We’re taking the most classic ideas and presenting them with my own little twist. That’s what I’ve always done with food. I don’t want people to sit down and say, ‘This isn’t a taco.’ ”
The seven varieties of tacos ($4 each) will range from adventurous picks such as cured lamb-belly or pig’s head to a crispy chicken with fermented kale, all on a housemade tortilla. (A photo of them already elicited a “damn” from Gwyneth Paltrow on Instagram.) Tortas ($9-$12) will play with some of the same proteins as the tacos, such as crispy smelts, and serve them on a housemade pickled corn telera bread. Then there are the salsas and cremas ($3 each) in varieties like burnt pineapple and avocado tomatillo.
The fun flavors are expected to carry over to the beverage program, which is beer-and-wine only but features six micheladas, giving beer the cocktail treatment in concoctions such as the roasted corn, which features charred poblano, tecate and a corn powder salt. An entire program of micheladas is one more thing that Scelfo hopes will set Naco Taco apart from other Mexican spots, long before they experiment with dessert (choco tacos!) and, possibly, late-night offerings and breakfast.
“There’s a lot of taquerias in town, but there’s a lot of parity between them. What we’re doing is a fresh take on that,” Scelfo says before reflecting again on the food-trailer kitchen. “I’m jealous of it. It’s bigger than my kitchen line at Alden.”
Naco Taco 297 Mass. Ave., Cambridge (617-945-1548) nacocentral.com