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If classic L.A. food truck-style authenticity is your benchmark of taco quality, then Tacocracy may not be the place for you. But it is the place for you if you’re open to black pepper bacon, pineapple salsa, chili-roasted chorizo, and a million other clever variations on the trusty foodstuff-cradled-in-a-tortilla formula. With its oversized lamps and mismatched chairs, Tacocracy’s hodgepodge interior mimics its menu, and looks a bit like a thrift store (which is fitting—there’s a thrift store around back). The shop fronts the Northside International Airport, a confusingly-named urban micro-mall with stalls selling everything from handmade soap to used guitars. Tacocracy joins a growing cadre of taquerias at various points on the hipster spectrum, all of which seem determined to make Cincinnati A Place To Eat Tacos. And eat them we shall: savory adobo-curry chicken topped with fresh mango-mint chutney, tangy Korean beef stewed with sesame and ginger, aromatic wild mushrooms glazed with black truffle and balsamic vinegar—all trimmed with a small world of international fixings like roasted baby corn and black-eyed pea salsa, sriracha crema, and “pear de gallo” salsa. The house-made crunchy corn tortilla is unavoidably sloppy, but the duck—slow-cooked with apricots and juniper berries—is so tasty that you’ll track down a fork to finish it. Creativity will only take you so far in today’s brave new world of cosmopolitan tacos. The most important part about Tacocracy’s plucky, all-or-nothing approach to ingredients is that they totally pull it off.
Tacocracy, 4029 Hamilton Ave., Northside, (513) 541-8226, facebook.com/tacocracy. Prices: $1–$6.75. Lunch and dinner
Originally published in the February 2013 issue.