BULL STREET once again becomes the taco of the town with another hit joint, Bull Street Taco. This California Baja eatery joined the wave of new restaurants, including Henny Penny Café and Natural Selections Café, that have recently flooded Bull Street’s foodie market.
“Bull Street is hoppin’ right now,” declares Mike Cournoyer, founder, owner and self-proclaimed “El Jefe.”
Bull Street Taco is rapidly becoming a community hub where locals line up for the meat-filled or meatless tacos with housemade corn tortillas or the A-Squad Goat Milk Churros that sell out just about every day.
Cournoyer and co-founder Chef Jonathan Massey united their passions to introduce Savannah to a niche that was lacking- tacos. The two friends for over a decade had an original plan of getting involved in the food truck movement, but with overhead costs including a commissary and limited selling opportunities, the dos Jefes chose the restaurant route.
“Only one person could convince me to open a restaurant. That is Jon,” Cournoyer admits.
Prior to becoming a restaurateur, Cournoyer labeled himself as a man of many trades. The former construction and computer-programming mogul learned about finances and business management from his wide-ranged experiences.
“Everything I have learned from this point has brought me to owning this business.”
Massey on the other hand moved to Savannah with an itch to get back to the coast. As a skillful chef, he opened quite a few restaurants in this town including the Bohemian Hotel and 39 Rue de Jean.
After tossing around the idea of a food truck, Jon settled on the concept of a easygoing taco joint.
“I wanted to do this with a friend, someone who has the same passion that I do. When I approached Cournoyer with the concept, he didn’t think twice. Right from the beginning we were on the same page and it has been great ever since.”
Cournoyer looks around his taco temple with a glimmer in his eye. “It’s cool to take something from an 8 by 11 piece of paper, a concept, and bring it to the point where we are sitting here today, right now.”
The two business partners executed their vision well, as Bull Street Taco exudes the chill hipster vibe that one would expect from a taco hut in California. The exposed brick wall, surfer paraphernalia, lime green accents, natural wood tables and blue cafeteria-style chairs beckon you to sit down and unwind.
The open-concept squared eatery boasts an eclectic cram-jammed space, including a hand-built community table from old floorboards, as well a bar adorned with kaleidoscopic blue and white diamond tiles. Taco junkies can also nosh alfresco under the open-air deck.
There is no doubt that street food is a food movement that we can all get behind. A taco shell is nothing more than a vehicle for literally any type of food-vegetables, meats, herbs, sauces, cheeses-prepared in a multitude of ways.
Then you throw the choice of corn or flour tortillas into the mix, and all the possibilities are multiplied by two. The probabilities seem endless.
Bull Street Taco dishes out various types of tacos, with something for everyone. Since each taco ranges from $3-4 bucks, you can try one of everything and still buy a margarita or two.
For meatheads, Chef Massey makes a chorizo taco with handmade meat that has unique ingredients like star anise and canela (Mexican cinnamon). The taco is smothered in cotija cheese and grilled onion hash with a sunny side up egg upon request.
For something even burlier, try the braised short rib taco with roasted tomatillo, radish, jalapeno and onion. Massey braises the short rib over night in tomatillos, garlic and chicken stock, lending to its rich melt-in-your-mouth succulence.
Then there is the chicken taco that is anything but ordinary. The meat is marinated in Valentina hot sauce, topped with onion pickled in sweet pineapple vinegar and dressed with a squiggle of basil crema.
This house aioli, made with basil, lime juice and egg yolk, should be doused on everything, as its basil forward punch is now a taco staple in my mind.
Staying consistent with the island vibe, chef offers a Tuna Poké (POKE-ay) Tostada, a riff on the traditional Hawaiian dish.
Given that poké is essentially cubed raw fish, sushi grade tuna lies atop a schmear of guacamole and is drizzled with sesame ginger dressing.
These decadent toppings are served open-faced on a flash fried flour tortilla, offering a satisfying crunch with every bite.
The vegetarian Roasted Cauliflower taco and the vegan White Bean Hummus taco, with heirloom corona beans, tahini, garlic, achiote oil on a beet masa tortilla, became instant hits among patrons as well.
Since the plethora of choices may stress out the indecisive, Bull Street Taco offers a $30 Taco Party platter of 10 tacos that the chef selects.
After tacos, end your meal with A Squad’s Goat Milk Churros, that is, if they are not sold out. Natasha Gaskill, pastry chef at A Squad Bake Shop, typically makes doughnuts, but she took on Bull Street Taco’s challenge to create crave-worthy churros.
First, Gaskill made each churro by hand, but has recently bought a new machine given their popularity and high-demand. These cylindrical donut-like pastries have a tangy cake-like center and a crispy cinnamon and sugar exterior. Drizzled with bitter Ibarra Chocolate Ganache, sharing really shouldn’t be an option.
For a restaurant that just opened in early September, the fact that Bull Street Taco cranks out about 700 tacos a day proves their growing popularity. Cournoyer and Massey have plans to expand into catering and custom made to-go boxes.
But for now, all they can taco ‘bout is how grateful they are to have Savannah’s support.
Read the feature in Connect Savannah