Quiote launches taco truck on back patio

From www.chicagotribune.com by Nick Kindelsperger
Quiote launches taco truck on back patio

In my two-star review of Dan Salls' Quiote, I praised the tacos available during lunch, though wondered why the restaurant refused to serve the indelible offerings at dinner.

Fortunately, that's all over. Walk to the back patio of Quiote, and you'll notice a garishly painted green truck where you'll be able to score tacos from 5 p.m. to midnight every day, except Tuesdays.

Salls and managing partner, Paul Biasco, settled on the name Kwee. "It's like Quiote's little brother," says Salls.

Currently, there are five tacos on the menu, including al pastor and cochinita pibil, each available for $4. There's also a limited beverage menu of three cocktails, six beers, and four wines. Seating is available right next the truck, and on the western half of the outdoor patio along the sidewalk. You'll also be able to get tacos and take them down to the Mezcal Bar. "​Guests have wanted food down there," admits Salls.

The development brings Salls back to his culinary roots. Before he opened Quiote, he operated the Salsa Truck, which was the first food truck in Chicago to be licensed to cook on board. The truck was an old ice cream truck with over a million miles on it, requiring it to be constantly serviced. "There's not an original part on it," says Salls.

While the truck appears to fit perfectly in the back patio (more on this later) Salls claims that the truck was not always part of the plan for Quiote. In fact, after he stopped doing the Salsa Truck, he sold the truck to Nathaniel Davis, who was running Wicked Good 'Wiches in the northern suburbs.

"I was mentoring him," says Salls. "He was sick, and he couldn't keep doing his white collar job." Sadly, Davis passed away earlier this year, and Salls purchased the truck back. It was then that he thought about adding the truck to Quiote. "​The truck has given a lot of people joy," says Salls. "It's like a phoenix, or a cat with nine lives."

It appears like the this will be the truck's final home. To get the truck to fit in the space, Salls and Biasco had remove the radiator from the front, so that it wouldn't stick out into the sidewalk. While it can't move, the truck will be used as a canvas for artists. It was completely repainted by ​Don't Fret, a local Chicago artist. Salls and Biasco plan to have the truck repainted by a new artist several times a year.

Salls also plans to have local chefs do taco pop-ups in the truck, with Jonathan Zaragoza set to do the first one.

Considering how ambitious Quiote already is, adding another element to the business might sound a little daunting. But Salls is mostly just excited about having the truck back. "I​t's hard to run a food truck in Chicago," says Salls. "I always dreamed I could have had a setup like this."

Kwee Taco Truck, 2456 N. California Ave., 312-878-8571, www.quiotechicago.com

Twitter @nickdk

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