Beer is great. Beer with food? Even better. Many of the city’s breweries take that theory to heart, offering full menus to go with their own craft beer selections. It’s part of the reason that Vino’s, Lost Forty and even newcomers Rebel Kettle are enjoying such success.
Count Blue Canoe Brewing Company in with that bunch now. The nanobrewery team has opened up Taco Beer Burrito, a small Mexican-themed joint that welcomed its first guests for Cinco de Mayo yesterday.
Taco Beer Burrito is located on 3rd Street in the space that Brown Sugar Bakeshop once occupied, basically next door to Blue Canoe’s taproom. It’s a cozy dining room, with seats for maybe 30 people, including the bar. Expect a standing room crowd most of the time.
Blue Canoe did a wonderful job creating its taproom, and the dining room at TBB shows the same attention to detail. In one corner, a converted barrel serves as a table for four. The bar is made of reclaimed wood complete with old advertisements engrained into them. The décor is relaxed and trendy in a way that makes you feel the restaurant has been there for years longer than it actually has.
Of course, Blue Canoe is a brewery first, and Taco Beer Burrito actually allows brewers Patrick Cowan and Laura Berryhill to expand their beer offerings. Both the taproom and restaurant have eight taps, and while all eight of the brewery’s spouts pour Blue Canoe, four of the restaurant’s taps are devoted to beers from other breweries. TBB also sells margaritas on tap and several bottles brews.
The food menu is simple and straightforward, designed to be more of an accompaniment to the beer than a sprawling smorgasbord of selections. Appetizers are limited to four different varieties of salsa, as well as a classic yellow cheese dip. The entrees are similarly streamlined; you will have your pick between two tacos or a burrito with shredded beef, pork or chicken. The pork and chicken are both simmered in Blue Canoe brews, further tying the food menu back to the beer.
Taco Beer Burrito also has a couple of desserts on the menu. A key lime pie with a little caramel looks promising, but I enjoyed the plantains a la Loblolly. TBB slow cooks the plantains in butter and sugar before topping them with a scoop of Loblolly double vanilla ice cream. The plantains are just cooked through and still firm, and I thought it was a good way to end the day.
Taco Beer Burrito will be open five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, keeping the same days and hours that the brewery does. Give it a try next time you’re in the area and want some grub to go with your suds.
Taco Beer Burrito
419 E. 3rd St.
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.