The Truck Stops Here

A bi-continental food truck serves late-night tacos and fried rice by disco light.
Taco Laco M&C food truck is pictured at night.
Photography by Tony Valainis/ Indianapolis Monthly

You wouldn’t expect a sign listing the indignities of old age to mark the location of one of Indy’s most exciting dining stops, but that contradiction is Taco Loco M&C in a nutshell. It’s a hip, disco-lit food truck parked next to a nursing home. It’s an exclusively late-night operation in a neighborhood that seems to shut down by 7 p.m. And it’s a legitimately great Mexican taco truck that also serves some of the most toothsome Chinese food in the city. It’s a salsa-studded mystery wrapped in an enigma and doused with soy sauce.

Introverts are best served by Yelp if they want to know when Taco Loco rolls into its usual parking spot at 86th Street and Ditch Road; though hours are billed as 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., some days the truck doesn’t get there until after sunset, if at all. Fans know to text the truck for advance orders or to confirm hours, but many just make the drive, turning in at the two-story sign advertising marriage counseling, erectile dysfunction treatment, and hearing aids.

Taco Loco doesn’t propose to cure those ills. But it will cure your hunger with a menu divided into sections labeled “Mexican” and “Chinese.” Tacos come topped by every part of the animal, or there are densely meaty burritos and hangover-curing tortas. There’s also a briefer menu of noodles, dumplings, and fried rice, all served with a container of a fantastic and sinus-clearing chile crisp. The nachos and quesadillas are also fine, if less remarkable. If you opt for Taco Loco’s chicken nuggets with fries after all that, you’re dead to me.

Given its hours, you might be surprised to learn that Taco Loco is not visited exclusively by folks heading home from a bar. The residential enclave it’s located in is not even remotely a nightlife hot spot, and its line is made up of service workers headed home, ride-share drivers seeking sustenance, and folks who’ve caught wind of how great both of its menus are. You have to wonder why Taco Loco’s owner doesn’t move the operation to a lot in Broad Ripple or Mass Ave.

You might also wonder, why the two menus? And how do they manage to do both so well? The truck’s owner, so responsive and accommodating to customers, falls silent when it’s a reporter on the line. And that’s fine, really, because the impenetrability of Taco Loco is part of its charm. Clever marketing, sharp social media, and pandering to press is part of many restaurants’ business models, but if it doesn’t have to be, why bother? If you have promptly served and delicious food, maybe all you need is some rave-adjacent lights and word of mouth to keep the customers coming. In a just world, that’s the way it should be. 2160 W. 86th St., 463-210-9667 (text, don’t call)