504 E. Seltice Ave., Post Falls
The fine art of minimalism can be quite a beautiful thing. The bold color squares and empty spaces of a Mondrian painting; the pulsating, bare-bones electro and catchy mindlessness of the latest Britney Spears hit; the spooky abandoned hallways of Hagadone's BOSE Radio lookalike Silver Beach condos.
With so much fuss and flutter associated with nearly every aspect of modern life, it can be rather nice to enjoy an aesthetic experience that's mind-soothingly simple and free of the recurring trauma of mental overload.
The menu at Post Falls' brand spankin' new Taco Loco is a perfect of example of minimalism used in a unusually dramatic and highly effective manner. Picture it: a white menu board with stark black lettering:
Tacos ($1.50), Burritos ($5.50), Tostadas ($5.00). Choose your meat: Pollo, Asada, Carnitas. Sides: Rice & Beans ($4.00), Chips & Salsa (3.75). Thirsty?: Mexican Sodas ($1.25), Pop & Water ($1.00).
In the illustrious words of Conway Twitty, that's all she wrote.
Faced with this tableaux minimeaux fabuleux, the decision was harder than one would think. Owners Matt Miller and Cory Temple were both in the house and running the whole show themselves, and although it was mid-afternoon and only a few other customers occupied the tiny building, the air was tangibly intense with Mexican Food Joy and it was clear that no matter what we chose, it was going to be something worth writing long, rambling run-on sentences about like this one.
Here were a couple of average dudes who were throwing off some serious vibes about their intense devotion to the boiled-down essence of classic Mexican street cuisine.
Most of the ornamentation that hangs around the place is rooted in Mexican kitsch. A line-up of a dozen C-store prayer candles watch from a high shelf, red and green chili pepper lights hang overhead, and a colorful display of Jarritos soda bottles is set up in the corner shine-like.
Beverages are served in the form of bottles and cans pulled out of a charming little mini-cooler in the corner. Another unpretentious and hassle-free touch. Mexican pop music drifts comfortingly through the air, making the atmosphere as complete as it could be. The only thing missing is your beloved Abuela sitting in the corner crying her eyes out over latest drama of her favorite telenovela.
The $1.50 price point on the tacos Con Pollo was attractive to me so I ordered two with a side of beans and rice. Jesi is more of a burrito kinda gal and she was assured that it was so gigantesco, that she really wouldn't be needing a side.
Still, we decided to split some chips and salsa anyway. Unfortunately, they had suddenly run out of tortilla chips moments before. Bummer, but our host was very humble and apologetic and immediately set his partner out on the task of rounding up some more. Wait, they don't make them on site? Eh, maybe they pick up them up fresh from Mama's house, but I guess we'll never know until next time.
Intentionally on the nowhere-to-be-found list at Taco Loco are any form of cheese and sour cream, items rarely found in the cuisine of authentic taquerias. We certainly weren't weeping over their absence as we sat down, hushed our mouths and dug in. Taco Loco tacos are served street-style, just the meat, some fresh, chunky Pico de Gallo, a dash of cilantro, and your choice of one of three squeeze bottles of house-made hot sauce.
They were messy but super yummy, and the massive mound of refried beans and rice that came on an entirely separate plate were uncomplicated but delicious. I chased down my lunch with a real-deal can of cold Coca-Cola, a sugar buzz I rarely indulge in, but seemed somehow temptingly appropriate for this particular experience.
Jesi's burrito was huge to the point of hilarity, but she was its boss, and a mean one, and quickly managed to eat it into submission. She was as thrilled as I with her meal, and although she said store-bought tortillas were sometimes a pet peeve, her burrito was fantastic regardless.
We're both mighty eaters most of the time and we were ravenous upon entering Taco Loco, but there was just so much good stuff, we had to just finish what we could and ask Tonacatecuhtli (the Aztec creator and provider of food and patron of conceptions) to forgive us for leaving the rest behind as we toddled happily out the door into the Thrift Store afternoon.