Rusty Taco taste test

Which of the newest tacos in northeast Minneapolis make the grade?

Report card notes: "I've had better around town, but not at this price. This is probably the best $3, non-fried fish taco I've had in Minneapolis."

3. Picadillo: We had to keep going back to this ground-beef-and-potato-based taco to decide whether it would take the No. 3 or No. 2 spot. It had the best unadulterated (i.e., free of cremas and salsas) flavor, and the potatoes gave a uniquely soft, home-cooked effect to each bite. Dusted with chiles, raw onions, and cilantro, this one was just uncomplicated and comforting. Kind of like watching reruns of Friends.

Report card notes: "What is a picadillo again? Is it an animal or an instrument?"

Making the grade: Rusty's black bean taco (left) and surprisingly good fried chicken taco
Emily Utne
Making the grade: Rusty's black bean taco (left) and surprisingly good fried chicken taco

2. Black bean: The only taco to require the backup strength of a second tortilla, this vegetarian taco was fully loaded and super-flavorful. Usually beans are a hard sell when things like slow-roasted pork or seared beef are in the mix, but as previously mentioned, many of the meaty options failed to blow us away. The toasted pumpkin seeds on top are an excellent complement.

Report card notes: "I'm glad to know that the beans aren't being maligned. Good ol' beans."

1. Fried chicken: It may sound like it has all the makings of one of those 1,200-calorie salads from Applebee's — fried nuggets of chicken, cabbage slaw, and jalapeño ranch dressing — but somehow everything comes together really well in this dish. Maybe it's even a stretch to call it a taco, but it was the unanimous No. 1 vote of the council, and we, as a body, have to respect the democratic process.

Report card notes: "I hate myself a little for having this one be my favorite, but it's totally my favorite."

The frosty margaritas, inexpensive taps ($3 Fultons!), fast delivery, and range of options make this spot ideal for late-night dining (they stay open till 10, but I suspect they would get an after-bar rush if they ever decided to stay open past midnight) or a very fast lunch with co-workers. But what Rusty Taco really has going for it is the hangout factor. It feels like a little hole-in-the-wall bar, somewhat akin to Mac's Industrial but with cheaper beer. Are there better tacos a little farther up Central Avenue? Of course there are. But your worst day eating 12 serviceable tacos is still better than your best day with no tacos at all.

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3 comments
snyde0431
snyde0431

Maybe I was just there on a bad day, but the margarita I ordered at the Central Ave location was absolutely hideous. Has anyone else tried it? I'll definitely go back for the fish and shrimp tacos, though and I'll have to give the fried chicken a try.

bianca101
bianca101

@Piefingers is it just me, or is rusty taco slightly overrated? Not a fan of the Lexington location, maybe MPLS is better?

Piefingers
Piefingers

@bianca101 There are better tacos down Central, but there were definitely some overall qualities that I liked about it. Only been to NE 1

 
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