It was a Sunday morning, and following a sunny hour at the Grape Street dog park, I decided a cold brew coffee sounded refreshing (this happens a lot). Conveniently, Seven Seas Roasting Company has its roastery and café in South Park, a few blocks away. The direct trade roaster serves coffees grown in unexpected national origins, such as Vietnam and Laos, and I’ve gotten hooked on its nitro cold brew. It’s rare to find a blend of coffees grown on three continents (Asia, Africa, and South America), and the nitro does well to smooth out this brew’s roasty and chocolaty complexity.
None of the above intent suggests a taco meal was imminent. And yet, when I showed up at Seven Seas, there was a taco cart in front, along with several customers both eating tacos and drinking coffee.
The tacos were being served by Dos Tierras, a branch of a local catering business, Chicano Soul Food. Its cart is set up to keep chafing dishes filled with stewed guisados on heat, and to grill hand pressed corn tortillas.
The pairing initially surprised me, but a few minutes later, with my nitro cold brew and a trio of tacos in hand, I realized it’s not such a far out notion. Mexican hot chocolate and the hot chocolate-masa drink champurrado aptly demonstrate how well distinct flavors of Mexican cuisine play with the dark, roasty flavors of cocoa. Plus, of course, the chocolaty Oaxacan mole negro is one of the most celebrated and nuanced sauces on the planet.
Just chocolate pairs so wonderfully with Mexican food, so does coffee. The Chicano Soul Food crew seems to grasp this: turns out the taco cart routinely pops up at other coffee chops in town, including Heartwork Coffee Bar in Mission Hills, and the little Italy location of James Coffee. It even served tacos at last weekend’s edition of the annual Cold Brew City cold brew coffee festival. In case you’re not sold, you’ll find Dos Tierras following a more conventional course by popping up at local breweries, whether Thorn Brewing in Barrio Logan, or Novo Brazil Brewing down in in East Lake.
But, there’s more to be surprised about, wherever you encounter this particular coffee cart; that is, several of the guisados it serves happen to be vegan. Yes, I did particularly enjoy the 24 hour confit pork shoulder the cart bills as “pork birria,” but also good was a lentil and pumpkin seed stew featuring charred corn, poblano pepper, and small chunks of the small gourd chayote. One of the best it serves is the so-called Funghi Ranchero, which brings together mushrooms and chili peppers with a truffle gravy.
In short, the tacos are good. The coffee is optional, but also good. And from now on, tacos will be a permanent part of my breakfast rotation.