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Gold Coast Nabs Global Taqueria

February 27 2015 - 9:00 AM

Cupcakes, doughnuts…and now tacos are taking the cake (pun intended) as one of Chicago’s newest food trend. While taquerias have lined the streets of Wicker Park for some time now, Texas transplant Velvet Taco will be the first to join the Gold Coast.

With only three weeks under its belt, we decided to check out this new non-traditional taco hotspot. Here’s what we thought.

What We Loved

Velvet Taco certainly doesn’t look like it belongs in the swanky Gold Coast – and that’s a good thing! The casual atmosphere, bright pink decor and friendly servers are all extremely welcoming. The menu isn’t pretentious. In fact, you’re guaranteed to find something you’re craving no matter what kind of cuisine you’re in the mood for. From Indian, to traditional Mexican, to British fish ‘n chips, this place has it all.

Velvet Taco’s focus is making everything in house. You’re greeted by whole chickens roasting on a spit, and the flavor reflects that. They make their own hot sauces, which are served in giant bottles on each table. All seafood is incredibly fresh as well, which is pretty remarkable considering the tiny price tags. One of my favorites was the current special, a lobster salad taco overflowing with giant chunks of lobster meat.

totsOur favorite dishes weren’t even the tacos themselves. The two sides offered, tater tots and corn, were my absolute favorites. The tots are tossed in a housemade goat cheese sauce, avocado crema and smoked cheddar cheese, sprinkled with bacon bits and topped with a fried egg. They even serve them with these adorable sporks – well, it’s actually a fork on one side and spoon on another. The corn is in an addictive creamy sauce, served with a wedge of lime for freshness.

What Needs Improvement

I get that Velvet Taco is trying to do something different with its global influences for fillings, so why not carry that through to the taco shells, too? I envisioned the chicken tikka and paneer both in buttery naan bread wrapped tacos and the ahi tuna taco atop a crisp and crunchy shell. I probably wouldn’t have noticed as much had the ahi taco not been in a thin lettuce wrap that was difficult to handle and too messy to eat with my hands. This was really my main issue with the tacos.

My only other complaint was dessert. If you’re only going to feature one sweet, make it awesome. I thought much was to be desired from the red velvet cake. The cake itself was moist and dense, just as it should be, but the frosting itself was cloyingly sweet and missing the tang of cream cheese that usually comes with a red velvet cake. Plus, if you’re going to serve tacos, I’d say why not serve an adorable fusion food, like churros doughnuts?

 The Verdict

Velvet Taco might be just what the Gold Coast needs to bring down the age of the Viagra Triangle crowd. It’s affordable, quality food in a fun atmosphere. I’m not convinced that it matches up to any of Wicker Park’s best tacos, but for locals or anyone in the area it’s worth trying out.

Velvet Taco
1110 N. State St.
Chicago, IL 60610