For the last few years, the little building by Penticton Creek on Backstreet Boulevard has grown to be somewhat of an icon in Penticon, the bright orange and white home of the fabulous creations of Burger 55.
This summer, though, the building is the new home of Tacos del Norte, and the decor and taste has moved south of the border.
“This building has good juju,” said Ian Nelson, who opened up shop just two weeks ago, with his mother , Betty Kootnikoff.
“We know it’s a highly coveted location and are excited at the potential,” said Nelson. “Moving into the shack was the perfect next step from our mobile food cart. It was really a no-brainer.”
Nelson and Kootnikoff opened Tacos del Norte last summer, securing space on the corner of Front Street and Main Street as a regular location for their cart along with travelling to festivals and catering events through the year.
“For me this was just a fun summer project and a way to bond with my son,” said the once retired Kootnikoff. “I wouldn’t have imagined a year later that we would have been opening a restaurant.”
The mobile cart will keep operating as well as the permanent location.
“Saturday morning market, we are still on the corner of Front Street and Main,” said Nelson, adding they will continue using the cart for catering events as well.
Though small, Nelson said the building gives them a much bigger working space.
“We didn’t really have much room to operate. This has been fantastic, we are able to serve a lot more people,” said Nelson.
They are seeing lots of their former clientele as well as new faces.
“It has really opened it up to a lot more people coming through,” he said. “They love the little building, they love the food.”
The food, however, isn’t changing from the Baja-inspired menu.
“Keep it simple, keep it good,” said Nelson. “We do tacos and we do them quite well, so we will continue with that.”
An avid cook, Nelson said he and Kootnikoff come up with recipes and spice combinations that were flavourful but simple and tasted authentically Baja while incorporating locally-sourced products and homemade recipes.
“The menu will grow a little bit over time. Our kitchen is so small we can only do so much.”
Tacos del Norte will be open seven days a week for the lunch and dinner crowds until 7 p.m., or as their answering machine says, “later if it is busy.”