Kurt Eller was having a meet-and-greet-the-neighbors shindig when my son Tom and I stopped at his new place on Friday for lunch. Taco Buddha is in U City next to the new Cursed Bike and Coffee shop at the corner of Pershing and Jackson. I won’t say you can’t miss it, because you can. Kurt doesn’t see the diminutive space as a drawback, but rather an opportunity to “encompass a small footprint.”
What Taco Buddha lacks in space it make up for in big, flavorful tacos and an array of hearty sauces and drinks. Cozy, comfortable and within walking distance of my condo, I say “Welcome to the neighborhood!”
Testing the Tacos
The place wasn’t officially open the day we were there. They weren’t even offering a full menu. It was more of a day of testing staff and kitchen. But people kept showing up. From what I saw things were moving along smoothly, orders arrived promptly, tables were cleaned quickly, and everybody had a smile.
I scanned the attractive menu—hot off the press. Tacos are definitely the main fare, but not in the traditional sense. On the back of the menu, Eller notes that tacos are “humble vessels” from which international flavors can be combined for both meat-eating and vegetarian customers.
The traditional South of the Border wrapper swaddles some grandiose flavors: Thai, Indian, Mexican, Texan, and Southwestern. There’s a whole menu section devoted just to breakfast tacos. While tacos lead the parade in the little neighborhood cafe, there’s also such items as quesadillas, ceviche, street corn, tres leches cake and sopapillas, as well as wines, cocktails, beers, and margaritas.
Spicing Things Up
As to those New Mexico peppers I mentioned earlier. They come from the Hatch Valley, where the soil and growing conditions make for a heady taste. The greens ones are light, pungent, and similar to onion or garlic, but with a sweet, crisp and smoky taste. I would describe them as mild. The reds go a step farther, adding more bite and a little back-heat as well.
Taco Buddha. 7405 Pershing Ave., University City. Hours thru October 2017: Thu-Sat Breakfast 8a-11a; Lunch 11:30a-2:30p. Sat Dinner 4p-9p.