Taco Truck Comes to Princeton Shopping Center
Jason Scott has yet to see the movie Chef, about a man who quits his job at a prominent Los Angles restaurant, opens a taco truck, and takes it on the road. “You’re about the 40th person to ask me that,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve been too busy running around, getting this going.”
“This” is The Taco Truck, the restaurant Mr. Scott is opening at Princeton Shopping Center just after Christmas. With partner Chris Viola, Mr. Scott has had his eye on the town for two years, hoping to find a place to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
The Taco Truck began as just that — a truck serving authentic Mexican taqueria cuisine to the east coast. The partners started the venture in Hoboken five years ago. Since then, they have branched out to open actual restaurants based on the original truck concept. Princeton Shopping Center’s store, which will be in the former location of Learning Express, is the fourth such establishment.
Mr. Scott is quick to offer that he is not a chef, but a businessman. “I came up with the original concept and brought in the right people to make it happen,” he said. “In my former life, I owned The Urban Angler stores in New York City and Virginia. I had the opportunity to travel throughout Mexico and southern California, and I fell in love with authentic Mexican street food. I was living in Hoboken and craving the food, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I thought, I must not be the only person.”
The Taco Truck menu differs from the Tex/Mex Burrito restaurants found on the east coast. “We offer burritos but our real focus is on tacos and tortas, which you won’t find in other Mexican restaurants,” Mr. Scott said. The Princeton menu is scheduled to include rotating seasonal tacos; a taco with crispy catfish, red cabbage, pico de gallo, Mexican tartar sauce and chipotle salsa on a flour tortilla; another taco with braised shredded beef, onions, cilantro, and roasted red salsa; and a taco with fried avocado, black beans, sesame seeds, pickled onions, tortillas fritas, and chipotle salsa.
The emphasis is on fresh food and native flavors of Mexico. There is a children’s menu. Offerings range from $2.50 to $8.75. Restaurants are designed with sustainability in mind. The Princeton location has energy-efficient appliances, reclaimed wood, LED and fluorescent lighting, and composting.
The restaurant is designed to reflect the atmosphere of the original outdoor food truck, but in a contemporary setting. Patrons place orders at two broad windows set in a curved, aluminum-wrapped wall with a menu board and views of the kitchen.
After a soft opening on Friday for family and friends, Taco Truck will officially open on Saturday, December 27 with a “pay what you like” day to benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). All proceeds will be donated directly to the organization, which provides meals and services to those in need.
“One of our employees does a lot of volunteer work there,” Mr. Scott said. “We always open by partnering with a local charity. We like to support things our employees are involved in and give back to the local community.”
The partners have come to know Princeton from the catering they have done in the area in recent years. “We love the sense of community — a great mix of students, faculty, and residents,” said Mr. Scott. “We really wanted to open a restaurant here. When Eden’s [owners of Princeton Shopping Center] contacted us, we were very interested. We knew this was a good fit for us.”