When your food truck has a monkey wearing sunglasses on it, you get high hopes for a playful and fun experience. The gigantic “Monkey Brothers Lab” truck pulled up into my neighborhood with their colorful red and orange vehicle, and become quite the attraction for on-lookers. Offering a diverse menu of burgers, cheese steaks, and tacos, I decided to try the old-standby of Mexican food. Tacos have become the litmus test for me with many food trucks that offer it as an option, but the end result was me diving into a barrel of monkeys that I wanted to escape from.
The inside of the truck is quite a spectacle to behold, as is just the size itself of it. Digital screens with the menus, a large and clean-looking cooking space with plenty of room for the team inside to maneuver, and a window to peek inside at their toppings and sauces to ensure you see as much of the process as possible. A commendable format for the truck, letting customers peek inside their mammoth vehicle, with state-of-the-art equipment and outward appearance. More importantly, that’s where the positivity in this review ends.
You wanted tacos? You got tacos. The end. I ordered chicken, chorizo, and steak tacos with soft tortillas, which were $9 for the trio. What you see is American style, which is lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, and comes with two sauces. I got the spicy mango and the red sauce on the side, but in retrospect, I should have asked to have the sauces on top to make these plain tacos stand out some more.
The meat tasted clean, but it was nothing that I could not make myself (and I could do it better). The ingredients tasted so run of the mill and unexciting, even the special sauces, that I wondered if they even made their sauces or just went to Costco and stocked up on whatever was in stock there. It feels like when I was 14 and went to a friends house and their Mom made tacos, and this is what I got. It’s difficult to describe what I tasted because there was such little taste there.
A glutton for punishment, I gave the truck a second try. I asked the frontman for his recommendation, and he said people loved the Monkey Brothers Combo Quesadilla ($10), so I went with that. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I ordered this, since the three meats did little to impress me. If anything, it damaged my opinion of the truck further, with the quesadilla cheese tasting rubbery, and the item itself being extremely greasy. Part of that was from the chorizo, but that sausage can only hold so much of the blame when the cheese itself was dripping with oil and coating the bottom of my styrofoam container with little pools of grossness.
“Monkey Brothers Lab” ranges from mediocre/ edible to “meh”. Frankly, that was the first word that came to mind when I saw my plates of food – meh. Boring, bland, underwhelming, and just meh. In doing research on the truck, I found other customers and reviewers dealing with the same issues I had – slow service, and food that was hardly worth a mention, be it the tacos, the burgers, or the cheese steaks. Furthermore, when you are spending that much on tacos and quesadillas, you expect something better than the Mexican taco truck down the block. Sadly, those trucks are delivering tastier food for less of the cost, and it’s a big disappointment. The truck itself is a sight to see, but the food within is worth closing a blind eye to.
At the time of this review, “Monkey Brothers Lab” has no website, facebook, or twitter feed, despite advertising one on the side of their truck and having told other reviewers there will be a site soon (which dates as far back as September). Word is this will be their twitter feed, so you can follow them there if they ever get it started (an impressive feat unto itself that the owners care so little as to not even work on starting a following for their business). On the plus side, they have a gorgeous truck that I will enjoy looking at while I walk past it to get food somewhere else.