One of Fargo’s newer restaurants is downtown on 1st Avenue next to the original JL Beers. It’s called Vinyl Taco and it has been on my must visit list since it opened this last fall. Why Vinyl Taco? Well they play records (vinyl) and they serve tacos. Pretty simple! From what I could tell during my visit they played whole records at a time. I visited with my sister and a girlfriend for lunch on a Saturday afternoon.
The restaurant is nice, open and airy. There is colorful seating, nice artwork and a lovely bison head above the bar. It’s hard to see it in this photo. The front windows are actually garage doors that I imagine will be opened during summer evenings. I’d love to visit on a warm summer night! The winter entrance/door leads you to a viewing window where you can see the chefs making tacos, fresh corn tortillas and guacamole galore. From there you enter another door into the restaurant where you can seat yourself. They have tables, small 2-person booths or you can sit at the bar. We took a short table.
I was especially bedazzled this day as we were going to the Pink concert at the Fargodome that evening. It isn’t everyday I just wear a sparkling shirt like that in lil’ old Hazen!
Our waitress arrived right away to explain the ordering process. She handed us a menu and pen so we could check mark the quantity of what we would like. If we didn’t want a certain ingredient on our taco, we could just cross it out. Starters were chips (with salsa or guacamole) queso fundido with chips and chicken chicharrones. Tacos were $3-4 each and starters were $3-7.
As for the drink menu, you ordered that with the waitress. Seeing as I was in the taco/Mexican mood, I ordered a Dos Equis lager beer. Not surprisingly, the menu heavily features tequila and also Mexican beers, sangria and Mexican soda.
Squeeze that lime into your beer and you can picture yourself on the beach of Mexico. Well, almost. I could still see snow outside after all. We were also served cold water out of a glass bottle. I might just have been thirsty, but that water seemed so fresh and good!
My starter was the chips and guacamole. The waitress also brought out a basket with red and green verde salsa. I do regret not requesting the habanero salsa mentioned on the menu, but that is just an excuse to visit again. The chips were wonderful. Lightly salted, warm, fresh and served with a lime. The guacamole was explained as smashed avocados, chili serrano, onion, tomato, cilantro and lime. I appreciated the radish garnish and chunks of avocado. I was missing the chili and was hoping for more tomato, onions and cilantro. This was the only slight miss for me of the meal. My table mate ordered the chicken chicharonnes which are chicken skins lightly breaded and fried and served with lime and a habanero BBQ sauce. I tried a bite and they were excellent – not greasy at all. That habanero BBQ sauce really had a kick too. I loved it!
As for my taco choices I went with the chicken tinga on the left and vegetarian on the right. They are explained like this:
Chicken Tinga: chipotle spiked chicken with pico de gallo, cilantro, queso fresca and blanco creama. I requested no blanco creama but it looks as if they also left off the queso fresca. I was a bit sad about that.
Vegetarian: grilled queso fresca, creamed chipotle corn, pico de gallo, black beans, avocado salsa and blanco creama. Again I requested no blanco creama. That was obliged and the grilled queso was not forgotten. It was prevalent and incredibly tasty.
Each taco is served in its own little basket with two corn tortillas. I suggest splitting the toppings between the tortillas so you actually make two little tacos per basket. There is enough of the toppings and I felt like I was getting more this way. I started with my chicken taco and found it very pleasantly spicy. This chicken was seriously chipotle spiced in a good way. I love spice so I had no problem with this. I ate the veggie taco second and this ended up being a great idea as the corn was so super sweet and killed any spice from my first taco. I think the veggie one was my favorite. That grilled cheese was just awesome.
I finished my two tacos, chips and guac and one beer pleasantly full but not bursting at the seams. I know some of the guys at the table next to us ordered 4 tacos each. My bill total was about $16 and I thought it was well worth it. I’d return again in a heartbeat and I was so happy with my order I’d probably get the same thing. Although the queso fundido with chorizo appetizer does sound good also. I loved the vibe in here. Our waitress was great although we did have to wait a bit to get our final bill. I hope to return again a few times. The food was so fresh and light. I hate when you eat a meal and it makes you feel bogged down. Even though the chips were fried they weren’t greasy or heavy at all. I feel I should note that we did also check out the restroom and it was quite lovely. This is a very important thing as us ladies know!
To follow up our lunch we headed across the street to the HoDo Lounge. It was not busy this time of day and we pulled up a few barstools to sit at the bar. I have been wanting to try a Moscow Mule for a long time now and when I asked Chris the bartender if they had that – he said yes, the best in Fargo. Well, pour me one my good man!
At $8 this is not a drink I’d get everyday. But seeing as it does contain vodka, ginger beer and some serious citrus it was well worth the $8 and I’d order it again. It was very refreshing after our taco lunch! In fact, I could go for one right now! Is it the best in Fargo? So far it has been for me!