I recently became aware of Nacho Cartel, one of the many new spots that have emerged onto Ottawa’s burgeoning food truck scene. Unlike many of their contemporaries, their truck is completely stationary, located just outside St. Joseph’s Parish at 200 Wilbrod, near the University of Ottawa.
Specializing in Mexican street food, I was stoked to be checking this place out. The location can be a little difficult to navigate to, but the parking lot is wide open, with lots of room. They’ve even built a terrace for the summer, each table branded with their mustachioed logo.
My wife and I went on a weekend afternoon, and we were happy to order a plate of nachos, and two of their tacos; all of which come with rave reviews from their strong Facebook following. We took a seat at a table, shaded by an umbrella from the unrelenting heat, and awaited eagerly.
It’s been a long time since we’ve been this let down.
Despite a beautiful presentation, the food was sub-par. We got their “Chikki Chicken” nachos, and unfortunately, the chicken had been cooked for so long it had nearly been reduced to baby food. The consistency was mushy, like something that had been sitting in a crock pot for several hours past the point of doing it pulled style. The cheese was harder to find than Waldo at a striped shirt convention, and they piled on home-made mayonnaise based sauce which was mixed with a taco spice blend. I’m not asking for the cheese to come layered so thick that your fingers are forced to penetrate greasy layers of molten dairy. I just want it to be visible.
The tacos didn’t fare any better. We’d ordered one chicken and one steak. The corn tortillas were wonderful, but we were served the same pulverized chicken as the nachos, so that was no good. The steak had also been overdone, and was chewy, difficult to swallow. Both were drowning in a sea of sauce – which almost felt like an attempt to cover up the lackluster meat.
Disappointed isn’t even where I’d start. This is exactly the kind of business I want to see thrive in Ottawa. The owners are friendly, the site is great, they have a great eye for presentation, but at the end of the day, flavor is king, and they completely missed the boat on the one point that can’t be ignored.
Don’t believe the hype, and take a pass on this one.