By Jennifer Kohlhepp, Staff Writer
Princetonians will be able to savor the distinctive native flavors of a Mexican taqueria cuisine soon.
The Taco Truck, which serves Mexican street food in both mobile and permanent locations throughout the Northeast, is opening its fourth brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Princeton Shopping Center.
"The Taco Truck was born out of an adventurous and extraordinary idea — to bring the authentic flavors of Mexican taqueria cuisine to the East Coast in an experimental way — a food truck," said Stephanie Hague, the company’s self-proclaimed brand evangelist. "Each and every time a guest walks into one of our locations, we want them to truly feel the food truck experience."
The eatery will open its doors to the public on Saturday, Dec. 27, with a "pay what you’d like" day to benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). All proceeds will be donated directly to the organization, which provides meals and services to those in need.
"Community is one of our core pillars and has been important to us since day one," Ms. Hague said. "Wherever we open a location, we are dedicated to working with organizations that help make a positive difference in communities they serve. TASK is an amazing organization in the Princeton area, and they work tirelessly to provide for those in need. We even have staff members that are also personally involved with them, and we are thrilled to give back to the communities that support us by partnering with them for our grand opening."
The Princeton restaurant invites visitors indoors to a space that captures the casual fun of its namesake outdoor food truck. Replacing a typical counter are two broad windows set in a gently curved, aluminum-wrapped wall with a menu board on display, simulating the side of a food truck with a kitchen view to boot.
The menu features tacos ($7-$7.75 for three), tortas ($8-$8.75), burritos ($8-$8.75), salads ($6.50), and soup ($4.50), accompanied by crispy corn tortilla chips, rice and beans, salsa, guacamole and various sides ($2.50-$7). Those with a sweet tooth can enjoy fried sweet plantains and churros with seasonal sauces. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diners will also find a selection of menu items, while children can take their pick from the kid’s menu.
"We’re obsessed with flavor and have developed our own delicious recipes to celebrate the flavors of Mexico," Ms. Hague said. "We also believe in the craftsmanship of our product, which is why we use premium ingredients like antibiotic and hormone free meat that is raised on a vegetarian diet. It’s just better."
Featured dishes that will be offered at The Taco Truck Princeton include pescado taco with crispy catfish, red cabbage, pico de gallo, Mexican tartar sauce and chipotle salsa on a flour tortilla; Barbacoa de Costilla tacos with braised shredded beef, onions, cilantro and roasted red salsa; Aguacate tostado tacos with fried avocado, black beans, sesame seeds, pickled onions tortillas fritas and chipotle salsa; Verduras (vegetable) tacos (rotating seasonally and showcasing fresh local produce); vegan Hongos (mushrooms); vegan Pepina with zucchini and pepper and a savory vegetarian Kale con Papas topped with crema and queso.
Sustainability plays heavily into the design of all The Taco Truck’s restaurants, including the Princeton location. Energy efficient appliances, reclaimed wood, LED and fluorescent lighting, dual flush toilets, composting of food and biodegradable/compostable to-go packaging are standard practices. The restaurants also ensure all beef, chicken and pork products are raised on a vegetarian diet without hormones or antibiotics.
"We believe in making a positive impact on the planet, which is why sustainability is also one of our core pillars," Ms. Hague said. "Fast casual restaurants generate thousands of tons of waste every year, and we take pride in the fact that we work every day to minimize the amount of waste we produce. Through our composting program, we keep thousands of pounds of garbage from landfills."
The Taco Truck, which represents the next generation of taquerias, launched its first truck in Hoboken in 2009 and quickly added trucks, kiosks, carts and storefronts in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.
"We’ve always wanted to open in Princeton," Ms. Hague said. "To test the market we did local truck events which were well received and an affirmation for us that this was where we should be. Princeton has a great mix of families, business professionals, students and faculty, and we love the sense of community."
The restaurant is located in the Princeton Shopping Center where the Learning Express Toy Store used to be located. The address is 301 N. Harrison St. The eatery will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will be operated under the direction of general manager Lynh Pham who has a decade of experience in the food industry.
For more information, visit www.TheTacoTruck.com.
By Jennifer Kohlhepp, Staff Writer