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December 7, 2011

The Taste Bud: Holy rollers (or, tacos on four wheels)

The wave of street food in Louisville has been picking up momentum this year, as evidenced by new vendors such as Lil Cheezers, Busta Grill, Mozzapi, San Diego Sandwich Works and Morels.

This wave of mobile food is further fueled by Louisville Metro Government’s recent decision to allow food trucks to park at metered spaces for up to four hours.

Previously, a vendor would have to apply to reserve a meter for a full day, and the fact is, they would typically only stay for about four hours anyway.

“We don’t have to be invited anymore,” said Holy Molé food truck co-owner Rob Ross, “which is awesome.”

Speaking of awesome, Ross’ green truck is a rolling restaurant where one can get some pretty awesome Puebla-style tacos, with some nice twists on traditional ingredients. My girlfriend Cynthia and I visited the Douglass Loop Farmers Market recently and tried a couple Holy Molé tacos while we were there — we were not disappointed. The tacos are pricey (ours were $4.50 each), but they were quite tasty and worth the buckage.

I got a chorizo taco, complete with locally made chorizo, and Cynthia chose a fish taco. Much to her delight, the mild whitefish was battered in cornmeal and blended nicely with red cabbage jicama slaw, chipotle aioli and fresh avocado (which she ordered extra for 50 cents).

As Cynthia is wont to pontificate, she had this to say about the fish taco: “Sometimes you eat something and you think, ‘I could eat 15 more of these.’ You almost wish you had an eating disorder so you could enjoy it 15 more times.”

Fair enough.

Hard to argue, because my selection was quite possibly the best chorizo taco I’ve ever tasted; chunky Mexican sausage was the main ingredient, along with onions, avocado salsa and fresh avocado (another 50 cents). There was plenty of grease, but it wasn’t quite as greasy as most chorizo tacos I’ve had (and I’ve had plenty). The Holy Molé guys had run out of cilantro shortly before we arrived, much to my dismay — otherwise, my taco would have scored off the charts.

But I still can’t say enough about the quality of the local chorizo — most chorizo consists of fine granules of sausage and is, to put it mildly, fairly grease-centric. Co-owner and chef Max Balliet said he gets the chorizo for Holy Molé tacos from Stone Cross Farms in Taylorsville, Ky., whereas the most commonly used national brand is called Supremo. It’s much finer, almost like Taco Bell meat.

“This is more like thick sausage,” Balliet said of the Stone Cross chorizo. “It’s just better.”

Other Holy Molé staples include the chicken molé, puerco al pastor (pork), rajas (poblano pepper) and soft-shell crab tacos. And as extras, you can get black beans, thin-sliced cabbage, pickled onions, queso fresco and other taco toppings.

Holy Molé started making its rounds back in the summer (you can find the locations in advance at facebook.com/HolyMoleTacos), Ross said, and the concept was one born of necessity as much as anything else.

“I was in the mortgage business,” Ross said, “and that kind of shit the bed. It was either go back to college or try something else.”

He got together with Balliet, a friend who previously had worked as a chef at The Blind Pig, and Holy Molé was born. He said they sold about 200 tacos the day we were there, but sales depend on the day and location. Nevertheless, he said things are going well, and they plan to keep on traversing the city and selling tacos even when the weather gets cold.

“I have no plans of getting another job anytime soon,” Ross said.