We may just have to rename the Mills 50 district Taco Town. Trendy Taco Town, even.
We already had Tako Cheena, which is opening another location nearby in the former Forbidden City (the new sign is up but so is the paper covering the windows), and even at Pig Floyd’s Barbakoa one of the better items is a taco.
Now, directly across the street from Floyd’s, is Black Rooster Taqueria in the former Tony’s Deli space. Despite a decor that features a skull motif usually associated with Day of the Dead celebrations south of the border, Black Rooster is an immediately likable place. I like the casually grungy vibe, the simplicity of the menu and the welcoming congeniality of the decidedly young staff. And not for nothing, the food is hella good, as the kids say. (They don’t say that anymore, do they?)
I sampled the signature Black Rooster asada taco, which featured crisply seared beef and bits of applewood smoked bacon and some melted Oaxaca cheese on top of a fresh and griddled tortilla fashioned out of organic corn. Some pickled poblano chiles and grilled onions added lovely grace notes to the marinated meats. A squirt from the wedge of lime that was provided in the wax paper-lined basket and it was perfect.
I also had the Meatball Sope, a small sphere of beef and pork with some black bean mole, pinto beans and pickled cabbage atop a corn masa cake. A bit smallish — more like a sopette — but so good with the peanuts and cilantro that even a squirt of lime wasn’t necessary.
It did need knife and fork for proper eating and both were provided along with napkins in a brightly colored cup in the center of the table. (Note to staff: Place the business end of the utensils down so that customers grabbing for a fork don’t have to touch all of them first.)
Black Rooster, whose owners, John and Juliana Calloway, call its cuisine “farm to taco,” operates as a quick-serve operation. Place your order at the counter, pay, then take a seat and someone will bring it to you — with an emphasis on the quick. John Calloway not only makes the food but also made the tables.
As I mentioned, everyone was quite welcoming, even to a guest who was older than the combined ages of the kitchen staff, all of whom are front and center in the open kitchen. And when I left, I was thanked for my patronage.
Welcome to Taco Town.
Black Rooster Taqueria is at 1323 N. Mills Ave., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-601-0994.