Photo by James Dickinson
My teenager was a Nate's Taco Truck groupie. It was a good morning last summer if she could have a chicken taco for breakfast at South of the James Market. So when Nate Gutierrez took over as chef of Don't Look Back, we were eager to go.
But running food trucks is different than successfully operating a restaurant. On two recent visits, the food took more than 45 minutes to arrive, though the tacos, which are clearly their specialty, were spot-on both times. Both versions — the "traditional," with cilantro, onion and lime; and the "gringo," with cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa — were delicious. I've tried the pulled chicken, roasted and stewed with green chilies; the fish, mild cod served with cabbage slaw (shown); and the carnitas (braised and shredded pork). All are outstanding, and at $3 each, an amazing value.
A burrito that my younger daughter ordered didn't turn out quite as well. She's a purist and she also dislikes tomatoes, so she was clear — just chicken, beans and rice. To be fair, the place was slammed. But Cary's enormous burrito arrived with only about 2 tablespoons of shredded chicken, yet chock-full of ingredients she had asked not to be included — lettuce, cheese, sour cream and salsa. Because the server said that replacing it would take a long time, I asked for a fresh tortilla and remade it myself. The moral: Stick with what they do best.
Which brings me to the tequila list. Holy frijoles! A house tequila is only $4. An extra dollar turns it into a margarita on the rocks. With 28 tequila options and a happy hour every day from 3 to 7 p.m., it's no wonder Richmond's 20-somethings are flocking to Don't Look Back.
If you're busy talking with friends and order a round of margaritas to tide you over, the long wait for food might not seem so bad. For my family, however, the delay weighed heavily against the appeal of those marvelous tacos.
Don't Look Back
2929 W. Cary St., 353-8226
Prices: Tacos $3, burritos $7, small plates $1 to $6.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, with the full menu served until 10 p.m.