Dining

Review: Taco Circus

Any place that serves Fritos as a dish has won me over even before the first bite. In addition to ‘Frito Pies’ (chili-covered bowls of Fritos), this taco joint serves organic Missouri meat in its dishes. The menu is tiny—burritos, tacos and migas—but everything is freshly made and delicious. The taco meats are nicely seasoned, salty and well-browned. You can order them with lettuce and tomatoes or cilantro and onions, or both.

You can eat in or carry out. Be forewarned: there are only about 15 chairs scattered among five tables, and a couple of counter areas. So you might have to wait to eat or, better yet, take it outside for a makeshift picnic. And that would be easy, since everything is served on paper. This place is very casual.

The proprietors are a couple of transplants from Austin, Texas, and they bill their output as ‘Austin-style’ Mexican. I haven’t quite made out a difference, except for the devotion to natural ingredients. And that is a big plus, including in the flavor department. A Breakfast Taco with sausage, egg, potatoes and cheese ($3.90) was a standout, the whole ensemble working together in a symphony of flavor.

The flour tortilla was soft, doughy and slightly sweet—I wouldn’t be surprised if they made those in-house too. The sausage, which definitely is made in-house with locally raised Berkshire pork, was exceptional. It was crumbled and crisped and fatty with flavor. The potato cubes, similarly, were browned on all sides, and the egg appeared to be scrambled over the rest, with just a bit of shredded cheddar on top. It was the best $4 I’ve spent.

A Breakfast Taco with chorizo, also house-made, was just as good, only spicier. It was sprinkled with vinegar and slathered in paprika to give it a distinctive pungency that was acidic, salty and slightly hot. For lunch and dinner, the Beef Fajita filling, which can be had in a taco or a burrito, is excellent. It’s cooktop-grilled sliced steak covered in Southwest chili spices. There are two sauces you can choose as a topping, a green and a red, each offered in mild, hot or crazy hot.

These guys are onto something. They offer a tiny menu—basically tacos and burritos—but made with the highest quality ingredients. The concept is fast food, but great food. And at a price everyone can afford. They hope to take their concept well beyond a corner taqueria; if all goes well, their good-food tacos may be available in drive-thrus around town some day. I wish them luck, but if others appreciate what they’re doing as much as I do, they won’t need luck. The quality of their product will translate to success.

[amuse bouche]Taco-Circus_Ethridge_11
the scene | Tiny neighborhood eatery
the prices | $2-$3 tacos; $6-$11 combos; $1-$6 sides
the chef | Christian Ethridge
the favorites | Beef Tacos in crisp corn shells, Pork Tacos in crisp corn shells, Frito Pie, Breakfast Tacos

[chef chat] » christian ethridge
culinary pedigree | L’Ecole Culinaire
favorite ingredient | Jalapeno
favorite st. louis restaurant | Riddles Penultimate Cafe and Wine Bar, R.I.P
favorite cookbook | The internet
most memorable dining experience | Eating turtle soup at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans
guilty pleasure food | Cinnamon rolls at O’ Fashion Donuts on Southwest

4258 schiller place | 314.808.2050

Photos: Bill Barrett

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