Grills on Wheels taco truck owner Melanie Aquino has moved indoors, opening The Wicked Taco Factory in the Pyramid Building, 221 W. Second St., where a Subway sandwich shop was located.
Aquino has operated Grills On Wheels, which has been typically parked in front of Frances Flower Shop on West Capitol Avenue, for the last seven years. She took over from her husband, Al Aquino, who started the food truck business in 2011 because he wanted tacos like those he ate during his childhood in Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico.
Melanie Aquino said she’s been wanting to open a brick and mortar store for four years, but was on the fence for a while.
“I finally came around to the idea that this could be a good thing,” she said. “When we found the location, I thought it was the perfect spot because I used to work downtown and I know the area. I know the building, how many are in there and that kind of thing, so I thought it would be very good to go forward with that.”
Had it not been for the pandemic, Aquino said that she probably would’ve been able to open Wicked Taco Factory in April or May.
“We had to postpone for several months to try and let this blow over because there weren’t a lot of people working,” she said. “Most [people] were working from home. So I didn’t want to open too early and not have anybody come.”
In addition to tacos, Wicked Taco Factory also offers quesadillas, burritos, nachos and tortas. Some new items that Aquino is excited about are chicken tinga (shredded chicken in a chipotle sauce with tomato) and steak and chicken alambre ( with cheese, onions, peppers and bacon).
Also new to the menu: carne asada fries, steak, onion, cilantro and queso on a bed of fries, and the Bacon Ranch Nathan’s Hot Dog, a deep-fried bacon-wrapped dog drizzled with ranch dressing and topped with onions and pickled jalapeños.
“Carne asada fries came from the food rep at Sysco, Marco Rodriguez,” Aquino said. “He’s Hispanic and he said, ‘You know you can’t find carne asada fries anywhere around here. He was like, ‘If you sold those, I would be here every day.’ ”
Aquino said the fries have been a huge hit. The bacon-ranch Nathan’s dog idea came from Aquino’s husband. He purchased one from a taco street vendor in Miami and told Aquino that it was so good that she needed to add it to the menu.
Aquino said, she’s going to focus on Wicked Taco Factory; Grill On Wheels will be closed for the time being. “As soon as I can take a breath I might worry about [Grills On Wheels],” she said.
For now, Wicked Taco Factory will just be taking orders at the counter. “The way our restaurant is laid out is much like a Subway, so it’s quick grab-n-go, and you can also sit down and dine in,” she said.
Aquino’s still in the process of getting a beer and wine license. She’s not taking call-in or online orders.
“Another very important thing about us,” Aquino said, “is there are other Mexican restaurants nearby, but we’re different. And we always make sure that all of our food is very fresh, our produce, everything. You’re not going to get anything bad from us.”
Wicked Taco Factory
221 W. Second St. Suite 100
10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. weekdays