Tacos El Joven


My friend Nathan took me to Tacos El Joven in Cincinnati's Lower Price Hill Neighborhood today. It's a small and unassuming taco cart stationed beside an Ethiopian grocery store. A friendly taco greets customers upon arrival.


Look closely, and you'll see that the type and graphics on the cart are hand-painted.


I asked the lady at the register what her favorite tacos were. She suggested the pastor and huitlacoche. I wondered what huitlacoche was and didn't quite catch what she said. All I understood was that it wasn't something Americans typically liked to order.


We enjoyed our meal at an outdoor dining area compiled with mismatched tables and seats. Nate and I were the only gringos.

The tacos were served on deliciously greasy tortillas with a side of cucumbers and lime wedges in a plastic tray lined with tin foil. Nate and I topped our tacos with some green and red (hot) sauce. I washed my tacos down with a bottle of beloved Topo Chico*.

Both of my tacos were tasty, especially the mysterious huitlacoche taco. It felt gooey in my mouth and reminded me of sauteed mushrooms. When I returned to the office, I googled "what is huitlacoche" and discovered that it's "corn fungus." In other words, mushrooms of corn. Sometimes it's best to blindly try new things.

Today was the third day in the row that I ate from an ethnic restaurant in Cincinnati. Sichuan, Indian, and Mexican. It's easy to assume Cincinnati's an isolated midwest town without much variety. That couldn't be more untrue once you start to peel back the layers and look beyond the surface. There's vibrant food, art, music, people, events, etc. You just have to look for it. 

*I was immediately fascinated with Topo Chico when introduced at the 2016 CreativeMornings Global Summit in Austin, TX. Today was the first time I've had a bottle since our first soiree.