Louisville: Taco Punk Es Muerto
Taco Punk, the controversial gourmet taco restaurant in Louisville’s NuLu district, has announced its closing this Friday, October 3. Owner Gabe Sowder has been a polarizing figure, apparently somewhat of a prickly personality, and the object of attack as a symbol for gentrification by people with an agenda that has nothing to do with whether his food was good or not.
Taco Punk was dedicated to using locally sourced and quality ingredients and to paying its staff well. Those are hard values to criticize, and I have not seen anything that indicates it did not do those things. Sowder cited ongoing, and seemingly never ending, bridge construction as the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. In the end, sadly, no matter how lofty one’s ideals, to stay open in the restaurant business you must make money.
I came across the Taco Punk tent at NuLu Fest last week flying under the flag of their Day of the Dead sugar skull logo. Knowing their impending doom, I figured I needed to give them a try, offering up my meager show of belated support.
At two tacos for $7 I felt like I was doing pretty well at a street festival these days. I ordered an Americano, which featured ground beef, and a Chorizo & Potato taco. The tacos were generously sized and soft, encased in tasty tortillas–street tacos. The meat was rich, spicy, and flavorful.
I would have loved to have caught Taco Punk at full strength in their shop, and I’m sorry I will never be able to. Perhaps Sowder could consider taking Taco Punk’s street tacos to the street, getting a food truck to lessen overhead and avoid the dangers of municipal construction’s capricious hand.
But the danger of a beloved food establishment closing down is always looming. Margins are small. In the end Taco Punk not only provided tasty tacos, but also a culinary cautionary tale: if you like the food, do your best to support it.
736 E. Market Street
Wednesday-Friday 11 AM – 9 PM
Closes Friday, October 3