If I could be bothered to take the time, I’m positive that I could make a list of things so appealing to me that I’d be hard pressed to say “no” to partaking in them. Undoubtedly this list would be filled with things like last-minute Cardinals tickets, trips to the zoo with my son, riding shotgun with the late Joie Chitwood, Texas barbecue and tacos. Of all the things I listed, my assumption is that at least tacos would be on your list, as would riding along with Joie Chitwood, had you ever seen him drive a car around a track on two wheels. But I digress.
As we have established that I will go for tacos at the drop of a sombrero, it was a no-brainer to check out the recently opened Gringo, a gussied-up taco shack in the Central West End where lunch-goers tuck into all manner of tacos – 13 different varieties to be exact – in a space that is bright and airy, and where our recent spat of unseasonably-agreeable July weather has made the outdoor seating along Euclid and McPherson avenues as appealing as the cozy interior.
The size of Gringo’s taco menu – and the size of each taco – makes it challenging to try more than two or three in a sitting, but there are a few highlights that should be considered for first timers. Carnitas are a confit of pork reminiscent of a succulent, fatty pulled pork that pairs well with the acidic punch of pickled red onions. Fish tacos feature a massive section of flaky white fish ensconced in a coating that is deep fried and topped with fresh and spicy crema.
Fans of a good old-fashioned taco night will appreciate the familiarity of a crispy tortilla filled with ground beef, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Adventurous eaters might go for the chapulines, a taco topped with crunchy, slightly smoky grasshoppers. In all honestly, the protein-rich insects are more about texture, mouthfeel and possibly making your dining companion squirm versus being the cornerstone of your meal; but they are worth trying. I actually found myself scooping them off their bed of creamy avocado with a fork to take them down, as the curious combination seemed a bit much for a taco; if I’m going to eat grasshoppers, I’m just going to eat grasshoppers. Perhaps Gringo would consider dropping them as a taco filling and opt for topping their nachos with them; that seems like another idea that I’d have a hard time saying "no" to as well.
Gringo, 398 N. Euclid Ave., Central West End, 314.449.1212, gringo-stl.com
Tired of reheating last night's dinner for lunch? Every Monday, food writer Andrew Mark Veety guides you to some of the best midday meals in the St. Louis region, with great places to bring clients or enjoy an outing with your co-workers. Missed one of his columns? Check them out here.
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