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First Look at Greatfull Taco

The Viola Lee, with fried green tomatoes.
The Viola Lee, with fried green tomatoes.
Photos by Katharine Shilcutt

Yes, Paul West is a little eccentric. But looking around his newly opened restaurant, Greatfull Taco, on a sunny Saturday morning, it was evident that any eccentricities were clearly and charmingly manifested in the bright colors, roller-coaster menu and intriguing deep cuts playing from vinyl records on an LP near the counter.

And as I looked around, I started to get a little nervous. Every part of the restaurant screamed "perfect" to me. Too perfect. Flat-screen TVs hung thick from the walls; high-end speakers were installed in the patio's squat stone columns; the dining room's design looked sleekly and professionally done. As if all of the energy and money had been devoted to the decor and ambiance instead of the food.

Over a table of tacos 10 minutes later, that question had been quickly put to rest. These were excellent Texas-style tacos. Greatfull Taco only really had to do one thing right past the high-energy interior -- its much self-touted tacos -- and it's already doing that and more in just the few shorts weeks since it's been open.

In keeping with the '60s and '70s theme, orders are given musicians' names.
In keeping with the '60s and '70s theme, orders are given musicians' names.

The Viola Lee ($2.50), one of a handful of interesting vegetarian options on the menu (fried eggplant and artichoke with poblano mayo is another), came with fried green tomatoes and serrano mayonnaise under a light slaw of shredded carrots. The battered tomatoes were every bit as tart and tangy as I'd hoped, making a for standout summer taco -- the kicky serrano mayo didn't hurt, either.

And I was surprised by just how much I liked the Red Rooster Jerk ($2.95), which I ordered seemingly at random -- the large menu was a lot to take in at first glance, with 16 regular tacos to choose from. But the crunchy jicama and jalapeño slaw that topped a slightly spicy breast of jerk chicken was unexpectedly delicious, as I can normally take or leave jerk seasoning. The crunchy slaw and hopped-up mango-habanero salso took that chicken to a whole different, delicious place.

 

Red Rooster Jerk.
Red Rooster Jerk.

My boyfriend didn't expect much from his $1.99 breakfast tacos, either, but quickly gobbled down his two double-egg, cheese and potato tacos despite how heavy and huge they were. The tacos aren't only cheap and good, though; they're available all day long from 7 a.m. opening to 3 p.m. closing time.

Right now, I'm waiting for Greatfull Taco to extend its hours to 8 p.m., because I think dinner is where this place will stand out as an inexpensive neighborhood option that offers its patrons truly good food in a wonderful setting. I can picture many a happy night on its patio over one of the craft beers on its menu (or a glass of wine) and a few assorted tacos. And I can picture eating that Viola Lee many times in the future.

Even the guacamole is good here.
Even the guacamole is good here.

On his first go-round, I really thought Riccardo Palazzo-Giorgio had gotten it right here with Sabetta (the restaurant located here just prior to Greatfull Taco; Palazzo-Giorgio was/is chef at both). And I really think that he has once again with Greatfull Taco -- I'm just hoping the inexpensive, fast-casual concept done here is more appealing to the surrounding area. Because if this place doesn't become a treasured neighborhood gem in the next few years or so, I just might hang up this whole fortune-food-teller hat once and for all.



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