The Behind the Scenes series entails insight from behind the chef’s counter and a restaurant’s outlook of its past, present, and future.
As of recently, this recognizable childhood lunchtime “treat” has made its way on the “comeback train” throughout random Chicago restaurants. However, unlike other establishments, Taco in a Bag location exclusively focuses on these bagged concoctions. Headquartered in Lincoln Square, the guy behind Taco In a Bag is bringing his sexy back thru his daylight-drunk-food.
If you’re aiming to get a “good base” for a long night out or just craving something that’s fulfilling and meaty, order the “cuban,” it won’t disappoint. Combining its citrus braised pork shoulder, Swiss cheese, deli pickles, crispy slim-jim-like ham, and house made Dijonnaise not only makes your taste buds dance with flavor, but it leaves you feeling semi-full and ready for round two.
For those who don’t prefer meat in their bags, try the “reverse coney.” Made from a pseudo-slaw of giant cheese curds, raw onions, oyster crackers, then topped with a yellow mustard and a three bean sauce, the “coney” is a great way of refueling after a long day, or in most cases, a long happy hour.
Awhile ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with founder, Tim Brown, to see how Taco in a Bag was doing Behind the Scenes:
Where did the idea of Taco in a Bad originate from?
Taco In A Bag started on a Food Network show Food Court Wars. Glutton Force Five is more of a marketing event company. We get hired to do their web series and host eating events. That brand didn’t really make sense on a restaurant. At least not at that point. The Big Jim was one of our best sellers on the truck, so we decided to expand on that idea.
What has been the biggest struggle since opening?
I wouldn’t say anything is a struggle. It’s all good stuff and to be expected. One thing that is cumbersome at points is dealing with online opinion. We have a lot of time and money invested in this business and all it takes is one bad review to turn someone off. I really wish people would be constructive instead of mean when it comes to leaving online reviews. We just need to remember that we can’t please everyone and stay the course.
I just had a nine year old give me two stars because we don’t have dessert. I guess they didn’t see the donuts in a bag.
Is there something that you would have done differently upon opening?
The only way you learn is by making mistakes. So any mistakes we made when opening helped us get better. I wish I could say I would do something different, but then we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.
Why Lincoln Square and not River North or Wrigleyville/more drunk prone areas?
We looked at the DePaul area, Andersonville, and Logan Square. I would love to eventually see a Taco In A Bag in those areas. I think we would kill. But this location was all about timing. It popped up at the right time. It used to be a Homemade Pizza Company and they left a ton of equipment for us to use that lowered our expenses. It also had some black iron left in the previous restaurant so it was cheaper for us to put in the hoods. Plus Lincoln Square is up and coming. This is a great neighborhood that is only going to get better. Old Town School of Folk Music drives a lot of business and the Davis Theatre is about to get a huge overhaul which will make things better in years to come.
What type of customer do you typically see?
18-35 year olds. This is not a haute cuisine. People coming in expecting foie gras tacos are usually disappointed. People who come in and understand this is weird-wacky-food done in an interesting way keep coming back.
All photos: Aimee Gasior