The original goal for my lunch break was to find a version of Irish Nachos (nachos served over tater tots or french fries) but I struck out. After wandering around a bit I found myself in Westlake Park surrounded by food trucks, one of which happened to serve fries. Close enough. I’m a natural target for awkward conversations with strange people in the street (maybe it’s me, not them), so this next part wasn’t overly surprising.
I was approached by an 81 year-old Romanian woman named Alexandrina who is legally blind, lives on 1st Avenue, has been a missionary since 2003, thinks Spanish is a dreadful language, and is legally blind. How do I know these things? She told me. She told me a lot more than that, but the bits about the rapture and God’s eternal damnation didn’t stick as much as her personal story. She asked me to read her the menu of the food truck (which I did), but when I asked if I could help her order she told me she didn’t have any money. *dramatic pause* “Can I buy you a taco?” “Yes. With chicken and vegetables. Not too spicy.”
So, yeah, I bought her a fry bread taco from Off the Rez. It was only $5, I didn’t have anything else pressing to do, and there are worse ways to spend 10 minutes than chatting with a weird old lady while waiting for a taco. As a thank you she gave me a pocketful of lifesaver breath mints and a pamphlet about avoiding eternal damnation. No kidding.
Off the Rez is an interesting food truck that serves fry bread tacos, burgers, and various sweet and savory sides. French fries are one of those sides. Chili fries were another option. I’ve only ever had the tacos, and I’ve never seen anyone else eat the chili, so I figured this was my chance to serve my fellow man by rolling the dice on a menu item. Chili fries it was.
The fries were fine but not overly memorable, or cravable. They were thin and flimsy (6mm), not anywhere close to holding up to the wet chili. It was a decent serving for $8, though. The presentation wasn’t anything to write home about, but the pinkish creamy sauce made it prettier than other chili fries I’ve seen.
I got the meat chili (default) but I probably could have asked for vegetarian. I found the chili to be middle of the road. Pinto bean and chili powder were the dominant flavors. I expected a little more tang from tomato or punch from onion, but overall it was very mild. The shredded cheddar cheese almost melted, but the whole dish cooled down very quickly leaving the shreds half melted, half not.
The pickled red onions were 100% the right thing to add to the dish because it needed that acidity and contrast, but it needed a whole lot more of them! I didn’t see any salsa or hot sauce options, but that also would have been an improvement. Overall it’s a 6.5 out of 10 on the rating scale for me. 6.5 isn’t terrible, but you also should rely on that as a measure of this food truck. The fry break tacos are terrific, and the burgers also looked very good.
My assessment is to not make the chili fries a meal. If chili fries are something you have to have in your life and lunch, then go ahead. Otherwise, I’d explore the rest of the menu first.
Sampled June 2017
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