Long time no eats internet denizens! This is Salvador with another foodventure. This time I went up to Asheville, NC (Median Home cost as of July 2014: $217,000. Population: 85,712 for those that care to know) to try out some tacos. And not Taco Bell style tacos, but more authentic style tacos, and these are a bit more on the fancy side. Let's dig in and see what we find!
First off, let's take a look at the menu:
Drinks and appetizers aside, the star of the restaurant is their tacos. They corn tortillas to make the tacos and are more akin to authentic Mexican tacos, though as you can tell from the board it is more than just carne asada and barbacoa tacos.
Seeing as it was well past lunch time and I hadn't eaten anything all day I ordered the fish taco, lamb gyro, mole roasted duck, and a water to wash it down with. Total came out to $13.03; $3.45 for the fish and lamb, $5.25 for the duck, plus tax. I got my number and went and sat down.
I opted for the inside instead of outside even though it was sunny and warm outside. Mostly cause taking picture of food feels less awkward when you don't have a dozen people watching you. GUESS I'M NOT HIPSTER ENOUGH TO NOT CARE.
This room is off to the side of the main area where you order, but both are tiny compared to the patio area outside. There are only about eight table in this room and four in the other. Considering how popular this place has become, expect to wait for seats when they are in the middle of a rush.
No this place doesn't have the greatest interior design of them all, but it doesn't need it. It's not about the comfy chairs, lighting or anything. The point of this place is the food. The low key interior is all about having you relax, hang out, and enjoy some food which it pulls off very well until your food arrives. That's because once the food shows up, nothing else matters.
As you see, these aren't your 99 cent Taco Bell tacos. Locos Tacos have nothing on these tacos either.
See traditional Mexican tacos are incredibly simple; usually made with corn tortillas, some protein, and then cilantro and diced onions on top. You then can squeeze some fresh lime on top or put some salsa on top for more flavor if you like. That be it.
White Duck takes the traditional Mexican taco, and then puts their own twist on it with some interesting results.
Fish and Lamb.
If you were wondering about size, here's a comparison shot:
It's about as big as my Razr HD and FILLED with yumminess. I would've put my phone right next to it but then I'm sure I would've dropped it right in the taco and I am not a goat so I don't eat everything that is in front of me. So let's dig in.
Dish 1: Fish Taco
First up is the Fish Taco. Marinated and grilled tilapia served with pico de gallo (which I don't like so I got rid of), slaw, and a chipotle crema.
The tilapia was a bit crispy on the outside, but juicy and soft on the inside and mixed with the crema was heavenly. The chipotle wasn't spicy but was there moreso to add flavor to the crema. The "slaw" added a nice bit of crunch but no real flavor and was saddening. I don't think it was anything more than just shredded cabbage. While mostly delicious, it felt like something was missing from the mix though I couldn't quite figure it out. That was until I got to the lamb gyro.
Dish 2: Lamb Gyro
The lamb gyro is pretty much a gyro except in taco form. From the bottom up: lamb, tzaziki sauce, lettuce, pico de gallo, chopped cucumber, and feta cheese. With this one I sucked up my dislike of pico de gallo and bit in. Then it all came together!
The pico de gallo is what was missing from my fish taco. Pico de gallo adds some tanginess and acidity to the mix that when coupled with a type of creme, like tzaziki or chipotle crema, balances out their counterpart.
If you notice on how the tacos are layered, your cream is second from the bottom whereas the pico is always on top. This allows you to get the full flavor of the meat and sauce first when biting in and then it comes together after a second with the pico to balance it out giving you the entire experience. Amazing.
It was so good I didn't put it down and forgot to take another picture of the taco. Sorry guys, it was that damn good.
So that just leaves, THE DUCK!
Dish 3: Mole Roasted Duck
Mole (I pronounce it moe-leh) roasted duck, lettuce,a bit of crema, and an apple-cranberry salsa.
I have never had duck till this taco shop. And whoo boy was it a doozy, especially since I'm not a fan of mole. You should see the looks I get from my other Hispanic relatives and friends when I tell them I don't like pico de gallo, tomatoes, or mole. But that's besides the point, back to the duck.
It was sooooo tender. Almost like some good BBQ or ribs that just comes off the bone kind of tender. The mole added some nice flavor, almost like a smoke type of taste to the duck but wasn't spicy at all. I think I would have liked some spice, but that's a personal preference (As I found out I could order the food more spice but I didn't notice that till after the fact. O well). The star of the show was the salsa though.
Sweet and crunchy, it wasn't so sweet as to drown out the heft of the duck but helps accentuate the difference of the two. A very "Beauty and the Beast" kind of dynamic if you will, where two different things come together to create something beautiful.
I think my only real gripe with this taco is that it could have used some more duck. But duck is expensive, so hey, minor gripe.
I actually ate these tacos so fast I gave myself a stomach ache afterwards. BUT NO REGRETS. Their tacos are just that good, plain and simple. Hell, they got me to like things I usually don't like! They fill up the tacos with so much food and have such a diversity that you would be hard pressed not to find something to like here. And since their menu is always changing you always have a reason to come back.
Right now they only have two restaurants in Asheville, NC and one in Charleston, SC but if you are ever in those areas, I highly recommend you track them down.
VERDICT: 5/5 Tacos
Oh, and I love the origin of the shops name. From their site:
The name White Duck Taco Shop originates from a nickname the Chef earned when she frequently got excited and talked too much to the kitchen staff. They called her "La Pata Blanca" which means White Duck.
Salvador likes eating much to the chagrin of his wallet and enjoys Taco Bell tacos as much as authentic tacos. You can catch him on TAY or using dollar bills on a fishing line.
Until next time, onward and om nom nom!