When I first mentioned it to someone at work they thought I said something about going for lunch with Tripitaka, presumably to make Pigsys of ourselves. But rather than referring to the androgynous Buddhist monk character from a cult TV series I was talking about visiting Trippy Taco, a small but very popular Mexican vegetarian café on Smith Street in Collingwood.
Given that Trippy Taco is so busy, popular response is generally so positive and it should be my kind of food, I was surprisingly underwhelmed by the whole experience. There wasn't anything about it I found particularly objectionable, just nothing about it that I particularly liked either (excluding the delicious dessert tamale).
For starters it is small, slightly dark and overwhelmingly orange, and so I didn't find Trippy Taco the best of places to eat. While it has a good relaxed vibe going, it did feel kind of cramped and after a while the overwhelming orange tinge on everything (food, drink, the pages of the book I was reading) becomes a bit disconcerting.
This could have been redeemed if the food was good but I found it fairly mediocre. The Special Quesadilla is a large flour tortilla with melted goat's cheese, black beans, tasty cheese, salsa and avocado. A serve of salad on the side is an extra dollar and you get a choice of sauce to go with it - I went for the hot sauce. I was hoping that the fresh ingredients combined with a spicy sauce would make my taste buds sing, but to be honest it fell kind of flat. Even the hot sauce wasn't as hot as I was expecting.
The small serve of Nachos came with cheese, ranchero sauce, black beans, salsa, avocado and sour cream. These came out as a hot, starchy, tasty, sloppy mess, as Nachos generally do. Quite a generous serve for the 'small' version but I would loved a bit more avocado and a bit less salsa.
Best of the mains was the Tofu Asada Burrito, a flour tortilla with cheese, spicy char grilled tofu, salad, salsa and avocado. Again served with hot sauce, this had more flavour than the quesadilla and the tofu gave it some texture. Nothing sensational but quite tasty. Still it didn't have that fresh and spicy 'zing' I would have liked.
Best thing though was clearly the Tamale Dessert, a sweet corn based dessert served with banana and ice cream. I suspect part of the reason I liked this so much is that I am a big fan of sweet corn, with the steamed corn dough contrasting in taste and texture to the sweet and softer ice cream and banana resulting in an interesting dessert.
So why is this place so popular? Maybe because it's different to the usual gyros or McDonalds/Hungry Jacks cardboard masquerading as a hamburger fast food. Maybe because it provides a fast food option for vegetarians and vegans. Maybe it's because the prices are good. But to me Trippy Taco is just ok. Do I like it and would I return if in the area? Maybe. But it's unlikely to be my first choice and that's a shame, because I did really want to like it.
Food - 6.5
Service - 6.5
Price - 7.5
48a Smith Street
Fitzroy VIC 3066
Tel: (03) 9415 7711