Mission Taco Joint
House-made Mexican hits the spot in Soulard.
When you live in Soulard, you quickly learn that it’s a small town within the big city. Eating out without running into someone you know is all but impossible—and part of the fun. One visit to Mission Taco’s second location in Soulard, and it’s clear the destination already has the neighborhood vibe down pat.
The joint’s owners, brothers Adam and Jason Tilford, knew from the outset that they wanted to duplicate the highly successful Mexican eats from their original location in The Loop. Freed from the commitment of developing a new menu, they focused their attention on the rehab instead. The resulting interior is the quintessential example of exposed brick, tin ceilings and ductwork with a colorful wall mural to give it the requisite dose of Mexican character.
Where to Go
Mission Taco Joint
908 Lafayette Ave. 314.858.8226
Hours Tues.-Sat., 11am-1am, Sun., 11am-12am
What to Eat
The burritos are huge—which wouldn’t be a problem, except that it’s really hard to stop eating them at the “reasonable portion” point. Of the four variations—beef, pork, chicken and tofu—the Three Little Piggies is both the meatiest and the tastiest as leftovers the next day. Its heartiness comes from slow-roasted pork with pork belly carnitas and chorizo, surrounded by smashed black beans and cilantro rice.
The tortas are about the same size as the burritos, and they come in the same four protein variations. Though the flavor combinations are different, each is equally tasty. For example, the same slow-roasted pork is served ahogada, or “drowned,” in a chile ancho sauce and accented with chipotle bacon and Chihuahua cheese. These are fork-and-knife sandwiches, even though the telera bread from Diana’s Bakery stands up well to the bounteous fillings.
The third main menu option is tacos on house-made corn tortillas. It takes four or five to come close to equaling the size of the burritos, but the upside is that you can mix and match them—chile-roasted duck next to wood-fire grilled cactus, for example, grilled fish next to tofu, or beef brisket next to grilled flank steak.
What to Drink
Similar to the fresh philosophy applied to its food ingredients, the juices for Mission Taco’s cocktails are squeezed fresh daily—as are the agua frescas. The classic margaritas are strong and tasty. They head up a food-friendly craft cocktail list with a mostly Latin and Caribbean theme.
The bottled beers also are chosen with the food in mind—especially the IPAs and other hoppy ales, which pair well with menu mainstays like Baja fish tacos and pork-stuffed burritos. Imported bottles include Dos Equis, Modelo, Sol, Tecate and Victoria, Mexico’s oldest beer brand.
In true Soulard spirit, there’s also a late-night happy hour with $2 tacos and shots of Lunazul Reposado tequila and Old Overholt Rye Whiskey—a fitting way to toast Mission’s arrival to the neighborhood.
Photos by Jennifer Silverberg
Photo credit: Jennifer Silverberg