Saturday, May 07, 2011

Fuel Cafe

Fuel Cafe
1761 Madison

A few weeks ago at the Food Truck Fare downtown, the Fuel truck was by far the most popular. A lot of people associate tacos with food trucks, so I think Fuel deciding to offer vegan and bison tacos was a smart move. I waited about 30 minutes, but eventually gave up on securing any tacos on my 1 hour lunch break. I follow Fuel on Facebook and when I saw that they were adding the tacos to their menu for Cinco de Mayo, I called Warren and insisted we go for dinner.

I really love the Fuel space. It actually used to be a gas station, but most of us remember it as a restaurant--namely Petra or Hattley's Garage. The inside is a little small, but the patio is nice and airy. Unfortunately the monkeys (Satchel, 9, and Jiro, 7) thought it was too cold to sit outside.

We picked a nice table in the kitchen side of the restaurant and immediately became the center of our waiter's attention. He first asked what we'd like to drink and Jiro asked for a Juarito, which he associates with tacos. When the waiter said they didn't have any, Jiro tried to order a Coke. They didn't have any of that either. (YES!) Then Jiro tried a different approach. "What drinks do you have?" The awesome waiter then invited Jiro to go with him to the cooler/refrigerator behind the kitchen counter to inspect the drinks. Of course, Satchel followed along. They soon returned with all natural sodas--orange for Jiro and black cherry for Satchel.

Is there any other restaurant in Memphis that doesn't sell Coke and Pepsi products? Seriously, this is huge.

I'd been to Fuel a couple of times when they first opened, and I knew that they were Project Green Fork certified, but somewhere along the way I missed the memo that they serve all all-natural products. Yep, even the ketchup.

We were off to a very good start. The waiter told us about the awesome taco specials and I ordered the vegan version, Warren the bison. I decided to let the monkeys split a bison burger since it was $13. I asked the waiter if he could cut it and put it on two plates and he said that was fine. Then he asked which side the monkeys wanted--chips, salad, or fries. "Chips!" Jiro said. "Salad!" Satchel said. I explained that they needed to pick one side because they were sharing. Then I explained it again. Finally, I just ordered fries on their behalf. (I didn't want to not humor Satchel's desire for salad, but Fuel is known for their hand cut fries.)

Later, when I was on my way back (from the super cute) ladies room, our awesome waiter took me aside and said, "I can get them each the side they want." I assured him it was fine for them to split fries and then he looked at me, smiled, and said, "You want the fries don't you?" Ding, ding, ding!

Back at the table we chatted and patiently waited for our food, which we could see Eric cooking just a few feet away, and greeted some friends of ours from our old Tucker-Jefferson 'hood who also came in to try the tacos. It wasn't long until our awesome waiter brought us our food.

Behold the vegan tacos.

My understanding is that the base is made from their standard vegan burger and topped with vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, avocado, lettuce, and salsa. The shell is an organic corn tortilla from Whole Foods. On the side we had a lime slaw, rice & beans. The cost was $10 and it was YUM. I ate every single bite. I almost felt like I could be a vegan when I was done!

Warren thoroughly enjoyed his bison tacos. When I asked if he wanted to trade bites, he said no. I was secretly happy because I didn't want to share my deliciousness at all.

Meanwhile, the monkeys, who are going through a ravenous stage, devoured their dinners. I thought it was cute that Jiro ate his burger first, and then his fries, and Satchel did the total opposite.

The burger wasn't as massive as I assumed it would be weighing in at $13, but it seemed filling enough and there was a hearty serving of fries. I also felt fine forking over a few extra dollars for top quality meat, bread, cheese, and toppings.

I think we were all full, but not stuffed, and quite happy with our meal and our awesome waiter. Our total bill was about $40, which is definitely on the high end for a casual dinner, but again, Fuel is doing something that few--if any--other restaurants in Memphis are doing and I feel good supporting their efforts.

I'm bummed that the tacos won't be on the regular menu, but I'm thrilled that the Fuel truck will soon be selling them all over town. Keep an eye out!

Project Green Fork Certified Restaurant
Fuel Cafe on Urbanspoon

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