Last summer, Grumman ’78 skyrocketed to fame, its overwhelming success a play on Montreal’s lack of street food. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I might have to slap you across the face with one of their not-Mexican-but-Mexican-inspired tacos and throw you under the truck it came from. But as the sunny days faded, so did the Grumman ’78 craze. Yes, they appeared at a few winter events and held the occasional taco party at headquarters, but frankly, they dropped from my radar when the season put a strain on chowing down tacos street side.
But now, there’s no need to wait on the weather. Or chase after the truck for that matter. Grumman ’78 recently opened a permanent stand in the food court of the Faubourg. That means tacos all year round, at functioning hours of the day, in one very convenient location.
The stand, shack-like with their signature green, can be found next to Dollorama. Only a handful of tacos are available every day along with a few sides and drinks. But I understand the menu will be changing frequently, showcasing new creations as time goes by. Apparently, they’ll also be collaborating with guest chefs to keep us on our toes. Ordering’s pretty simple and friendly faces are always appreciated. Take note of the number on your receipt and pick up your tray when they holler at you.
“Sh*t. These tacos are small.” was the first thing that crossed my mind. I don’t remember them being that small. They’re cheaper here then on the streets, but for $4-7/each, something bigger than the palm of my hand goes without saying. I can actually hear some fans bark out “Bitch, they’re gourmet.” Settle down. I don’t care. For what they’re worth, give me more to work with. That’s all I’m saying. On the bright side, they’re stuffed like Christina Aguilera in a tight dress. Bad for her, but good for tacos.
The Chicken Mole Taco ($4) has the most Mexican influence. It starts with a generous helping of chicken smothered in a very mild chili sauce made with tomatillos, cocoa and coffee. Sprinkled overtop is a layer of rice that soaks up the liquid. Creamed corn is there to temper the spice, but the sauce is shy and tame, so it adds a touch of coolness if nothing else. And green onions fit in with the mild theme of things. It’s really wet, so the tortilla goes limp quick. It’s messy too, so you’ll have to put that fork to good use. To sum it up in one word: forgettable.
Cashing in at $4, the Banh Mi Taco draws inspiration from those lovable Vietnamese sandwiches. No signs of mayo and liver pâté, but Grumman ’78 does a good job at capturing the essence of it. It’s overstuffed with slow-roasted pork belly, a juicy symphony of sweet and salty, but it’s too mushy for my liking. A tasty tangle of pickled carrots, daikon, red onions, cilantro and sesame seeds rests on top, its sweet and sour stings piercing the meatiness. It’s their best seller for reasons I can’t understand, because, well, it’s just okay.
All of my experiences at Grumman ’78 have been underwhelming, that is until I met the Ancho Beef Taco ($5). Beef braised with ancho chilies, black beans just chilling, takes center stage. It’s tender, juicy and packed with flavor, though it ranks low on the spicy scale. In my mind, there’s nothing the buttery power of avocado can’t better, so this baby gets huge points for a very ample showing. It’s finished with a drizzle of sour cream speckled with cumin, a nice touch that pairs well with the warmth of the meat stew. Everything about it works wonderfully. Hands down my favorite taco.
I like the Chorizo Taco ($4) too, but I’d like it a lot more if it were topped with something other than lettuce, radishes and cilantro tossed in ranch dressing. Some slaw maybe? At least the meat filler comes through really nicely. It’s a mix of shredded and minced pork with chorizo sausages cooked in a saucy, savory blend of spices future me wouldn’t say no to.
Sides range from $4 to $8, and I highly recommend an order of Papas Grumman ($4). Fork tender cubes of fried sweet potatoes, drenched in oil, are OMG-YES-delicious. And that’s before the garlic mayo, cilantro and queso fresco (mild cheese). Ahhh. Totally awesome and filling.
Drinks, billed at $2, come in a plastic, see-through bag with a straw sticking out. I’m curious about the Hibiscus Tea and Jugo Verde, but those are for next time. I tried the Horchata, a sweet rice milk beverage sparkled with cinnamon that appeals to the kid in me. Tastes just like cereal milk! Warning: May induce sugar rush.
For those of you worried about the Grumman ’78 stand being a set back in legalizing street food in Montreal, rest assured it isn’t an act of defeat on their part. Weather permitting, the truck is still in full effect at approved events and remains our strongest advocate in Montreal’s pro street food movement. But the reality is, the ban is alive and well. And even if it were to be lifted, the harsh weather we experience in winter months would force it to take a hiatus. So, this permanent indoor set up is a brilliant way of keeping Grumman ’78 fans fed and happy all throughout the year.
I’m not whipped by Grumman ’78 nor will I ever be, I think. Even now that I’ve found what puts a smile on my face (Ancho Beef & Papas Grumman – so good), I know I won’t be lining up at any chance I get. The price tag and small servings don’t cut it. Just keeping it real. But I will be back on occasion to have what I love, and to see if fish and shrimp tacos turn up on the menu. Put Grumman ’78 on your list to see what all the fuss is about. And like always, be the one to decide if they do it for you or not. Time for tacos?
Grumman '78 Comptoir Faubourg
1616 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest | map