Trippy Taco has long held a special place in the hearts and bellies of Melbourne’s vegans and vegetarians.
Serving up Mexican street food style dishes, the restaurant has been going strong for over 19 years now. It’s fair to say the store is part of the city’s furniture at this point – and with the assorted menu sporting flavours from across the board, it’s clear to see why.
Many years ago, it all began as an idea between mates at a get together. “It started from a party,” creator and owner of Trippy Taco, Simon Fischer, explains. “A friend of mine had a bus in this caravan park up in Byron Bay, and said, ‘Oh, we should have a party here one day’. So, we said ‘yeah, let’s have a party’ and I said, ‘I’ll make tacos’, because I’d just got back from America and learnt how to make all these tacos and was right into it.”
The party was a success. So, knowing they were onto something good, Fischer and his mates took their tacos on the road, going around to markets and festivals offering up their bites to the masses. “Seriously, it was just fun. It wasn’t even a money thing. It was only three years later I realised and went, ‘Oh you can actually make some money doing this.’”
This went on for around six years, before the Trippy Taco we know and love along Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street opened its door in 2006.
A lot of the menu is heavily influenced from Fischer’s pre-food truck days in America, “I was living in San Diego and my friend who I was living with taught me how to make the tortillas. We’d literally just be making tortillas every night and then I was going down to Mexico surfing a lot, as we were only 20 minutes from the border, eating lots of tacos down there.”
Fischer realised that what he was experiencing wasn’t like anything available back in Australia. “There was nothing like that when we got home,” he explains. Vegetarians, in particular, were out of luck in this regard. “There was nothing around. Well, very little. There was definitely no vegetarian Mexican food around.”
So, drawing from what he learnt overseas, Fischer starting experimenting with flavours out of his food truck and “trying it out on customers and seeing what customers liked”. From this, he developed the trademark taste of Trippy Taco over a slow process, evolving the flavours to give the people the scrumptious taste they deserve.
Even today, Fischer acknowledges that the offerings of his store are distinctive to the others of the city. “We make our own corn tortillas every day, fresh, and we cook them to order. So, if you order a taco, the tortilla is cooked from raw right there in front of you – you wouldn’t get that anywhere else.”
Although the menu has authentic elements, Fischer is quick to note that he’s never called it authentic. “Because I’m Australian, I’m not Mexican,” he regards. “I’ve just borrowed authentic elements.”
Fischer is rightly proud of Trippy Taco and the eatery he’s nurtured since those beginning days a long time ago.
“It’s a little eclectic, a little bit quirky,” he notes. “It’s maybe a little bit a reflection of myself, my friends and what I like. It’s just grown out of that and in a way, because of where it is, it’s taken on its own personality.”
“People find it really tricky to pin Trippy Taco down to any one thing and it’s sort of also a bit hectic, and at some times, a bit confusing,” Fischer laughs. “I like that because there are all these places that have come and been born out of a concept and you know, they’re really well planned out and everything’s smooth and it’s ok, but I like that Trippy Taco is more spontaneous.”
Melbourne’s beloved Trippy Taco sprawls two locations at 234 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy and 6 Acland Street, St Kilda. Head to the restaurant website for the menu, opening hours and more information.