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Vinyl Taco

Fargo ND

520 1st ave n, fargo ND 58102
mon-sat, 11am-midnight

Vinyl Taco (Fargo ND) - taco review

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Rating: 85
Price: $$$$

The To-Go

Good queso, great chips, and good vibes; respectable but non-spectacular tacos.

The Sit-Down

Following a smashing success at Seattle's Tacos Chukis, the transcontinental expeditionary squad (myself & business associate Erin) decided to hit the next taco metropolis on our route: Fargo ND. Based on a fairly uncomplimentary tip from a confidential source (direct quote: "I can't really recommend it"), and the surprisingly expensive nature of other Fargo hot spots, we decided to give it a shot on our way from Billings to Duluth - a stretch of highway more commonly known as the Taco Graveyard.

We showed up on a lovely Friday evening, with temperatures in the mid 70s and clear skies. After doing a quick walk-by to compare Vinyl Taco to our other recommended options, we chose Vinyl Taco for 3 reasons:
1) Outdoor seating
2) Good vibes
3) Patriotic duty to review a taco in ND
After snagging an empty outdoor spot immediately upon arrival, we knew the great Taco God was smiling upon us. Our server, Ashlee, provided us with a pitcher of raspberry margaritas, we ordered a bowl of 'traditional American queso', and enjoyed the weather. One key to enjoying your Vinyl Taco experience is to get a chip-based appetizer - although there's no chips and salsa, the chips are very light, puffy, crunchy, and excellent. The queso was hot cheese, meaning it was unavoidably delicious. It was a very mild queso, neither particularly spicy nor tangy, but it was warm and gooey and filling. A-plus.

After deliberating for a spell, we each decided to order two tacos. Erin (relatively) quickly settled on the chicken & chorizo, and the fish taco. I mulled it over for quite a while, in turn considering the barbacoa, carne asada, and chicken & chorizo, before finally settling on an unprecedented double-chicken combo: the chicken tinga, which is a spicy marinated chicken, and the breaded chicken & mango. Ashlee brought our tacos out fairly quickly. All 4 were on flour tortillas, but the toppings varied widely. Erin's both had a serrano-avocado salsa, which was medium-spicy and had an appropriately festive flavor; the real innovations took place on the fish taco, which had both fried capers and a sriracha tartar sauce. Spoiler alert: in the end, this taco ended up being her favorite.

My chicken feast also had pretty varied toppings. One of the major draws to the chicken & mango, obviously, was the mango topping; the C&M also had a bit of sweet onion vinaigrette and some mild cheese. The mango was not perfectly ripe, but close enough to be very flavorful, while the breaded chicken was strongly reminiscent of the chicken tenders we had enjoyed at Applebee's a couple nights prior. The major weakness of the chicken & mango taco was the lack of a salsa - as we all learned at Tacos Chukis, a sweet tropical fruit paired with a spicy salsa is a combination to die for. Fortunately, the chicken tinga hit the spot when it came to spicy. It had a smoky marinade which was surprisingly potent for the Upper Midwest. This effectively drowned out the majority of the chicken flavor, as it is the mildest of meats, leaving the taco to stand based on the strength of the marinade and other toppings. While I'm not normally a smoky salsa fan, I did enjoy the tinga quite a bit; however, I thought this taco would have benefitted from a stronger cheese - country of origin notwithstanding, I think they should have replaced the queso fresco with a smoked gruyere.

We enjoyed the visit to Vinyl Taco significantly more than our anonymous source, and found the patio to be the perfect spot to enjoy a summer evening. As noted above, each taco had a minor but significant shortcoming. How many of these would have been prepared by asking our server for the habanero salsa, as advised on the menu but not noticed until now? Impossible to say., but I don't think it would have hurt. Nonetheless, Vinyl Taco does appear to take the cake when it comes to tacos on Fargo's downtown strip, though we did drive by a few Mexican places on the western outskirts of town that looked appealing for our next trip down I-94.

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