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Former food cart Taco Tank is now serving tacos, nachos and more at Kansas City's Parlor food hall
KANSAS CITY

Former food cart Taco Tank is now serving tacos, nachos and more at Kansas City's Parlor food hall

Kansas Citians love their tacos, and they are constantly searching for new spots to satisfy their craving. One of the latest is Taco Tank, a former food cart that now has a permanent home inside of Parlor food hall. Chef-owner Roman Raya Jr. is thrilled that he now has a brick-and-mortar space to show off his culinary talents.

"I really consider cooking a form of art and expression," Raya says. "It's a way for me to showcase my family's story and elements of my upbringing, but also to bring in the tastes of Kansas City and hopes for the future. It's a great way to share a ton of information without ever having to share a word."

Even though many of Raya's dishes have their foundation in the foods he enjoyed growing up, there's a lot more to it than tradition. Taco Tank's managing partner, Madeline Buechter, brings plenty of her own experience to take these tacos to the next level.

"I really learned the ins and outs of the restaurant industry through many different chefs and restaurants," she says. "Most of it came from fine dining – my first job in the industry was at Starker's on the Plaza, and I've worked at other local spots like André's [Confiserie Suisse] and Christopher Elbow [Chocolates]. I've done coffee roasting, chocolatiering … pretty much any food industry work you can think of."

The two put their unique skill sets to work at Taco Tank. Even though they're still creating "food truck tacos," they treat each dish as a unique expression. "We fully dress every dish, we make different salsas for every meat and we want every bite to be a unique experience," Buechter says.

Finding a spot in Parlor was the perfect indicator that they were taking the right approach to recipe research and development – especially because Raya wasn't sure that Taco Tank would survive the COVID restrictions.

"We really went full steam ahead after our first few events, but we were a bit worried that COVID would force us to completely shut it down," he says. "Luckily, we were able to find a lot of breweries that had plenty of outdoor space, and bringing the tank to places like Rockcreek [Brewing Co.], Limitless [Brewing and] Pathlight [Brewing] helped us win more of a following and further develop our recipes."

Moving to their permanent location forced the duo to really think about a standardized menu, and they think they've managed to find the combo of items that will keep people coming back for more. Four different tacos are on the menu, including carne asada, carnitas, adobo chicken and grilled, fajita-style mushrooms. Other options include asada fries, nachos and a few sides – both Raya and Buechter cite the street corn as one of the best things on the menu.

On top of their standard menu, there are also a few specials at Taco Tank every week. The Taco Tuesday special features a new taco every month that doesn't appear on the standard menu; this might include certain staples like birria that are a bit too intensive for the fast-paced tempo of Parlor, or more experimental options that push Raya's creativity. They also run a Sunday special featuring a rotating cast of favorites like burritos and chilaquiles. 

Taco Tank is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11am to 10pm, Thursday from 11am to 10pm and Friday and Saturday from 11am to 11pm. 

Taco Tank (inside Parlor), 1707 Locust St., Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City, Missouri, parlorkcmo.com/kitchen/taco-tank/

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Jordan Baranowski is a writer based out of Prairie Village. His social media is generally just food and animals.

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