Big Truck Tacos Plans to Drive 'Street Food with a Twist' to After-Hours Scene

Published: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 7:00 am By: Steve Lackmeyer

The Oklahoman

Three seasoned chefs with resumes at some of Oklahoma City's finest restaurants are teaming up . . . to start a taco truck.

The idea of starting Big Truck Tacos might seem an unlikely venture for Chris Lower, chef at The Metro Bistro and Wine Bar, Cally Johnson, former executive chef at Boulevard Steakhouse and more recently Cheever's, and Kathryn Mathis, who worked with Lower before moving to Austin, Texas, for 14 years.

Lower credits Mathis for creating a compelling vision - one inspired by breakfasts, lunches, dinners and late nights at taco trucks in Austin.

"There's really nothing like them here," Mathis said, taking a break from renovations of the "home base" for Big Truck Tacos at 530 NW 23. "It was time for me to return home here to Oklahoma, and I couldn't find a place where I could get a taco for breakfast."

The tacos pitched by Mathis are a bit more elaborate than what one might find at a typical Tex-Mex restaurant - she quickly recites a menu involving lamb, duck and other exotic choices.

Mathis met and befriended Johnson upon her return to Oklahoma City and the pair delved into looking into how to start their own restaurant. They then turned to Lower.

"Their idea was to create street food with a twist," Lower said. "Neither had opened a restaurant before, and they wanted me to help. We were looking along NW 23, and wanted to be even closer to downtown. But those buildings didn't have kitchens that were big enough."

The building chosen has had an assortment of tenants over the years, including a Del Rancho, a Daylight Donuts and a sub shop. Lower said the kitchen, comprising two-thirds of the building, was a perfect fit for the new venture.

Plans call for an opening later this month, with the restaurant to be open for breakfast, lunch and early dinner. The truck will take over at 7:30 p.m. and is likely to travel to nightclub hot spots on weekends for post-closing meals, Lower said. The three also say they have faith in the area's future, noting that anchors such as Cheever's are thriving and renovations are starting across the street at the landmark Tower Theater.

"The more time we spent down there talking to property owners, the more we felt this area is really on the cusp of a renaissance," Lower said. "We think this is the perfect time and the perfect place to do something funky and edgy."

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