Meet Your Merchant | Bistro wraps world flavors in tortillas for unique taco experience
Special to the Sun
What: Marg’s Taco Bistro
Location: 10164 Donner Pass Rd.
Phone: 530-587-MARG (6274)
Countries, cultures and tastes from around the world fit between homemade tortillas, converging onto large plates at Marg’s Taco Bistro.
Owner Kevin Sloane believes tortillas are just the vehicle for what’s inside. Greek and Italian, Korean and Vietnamese, Mexican and American flavors are served alongside creative margaritas for a unique experience in downtown Truckee.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVELS, TASTES
Before Marg’s, Kevin traveled much of the world working as a pilot. It was through his travels, he said, that he learned about cuisine and developed concepts now applied to his restaurants.
“That travel really gave me such an idea of what’s out there,” he said. “I started to really accumulate recipes for sandwiches and tacos … I wanted to do more international flavors.”
The Banh Mi, a Vietnamese taco, consists of marinated pork topped with pickled cucumbers and carrots and a sriracha mayo and is an authentic spicy and light take on a traditional taco. Familiar combinations like mozzarella cheese, tomato and basil create the Caprese taco or steak, mushrooms and red peppers for a Philly. Lovers of spice can try the Vindaloo — an Indian taco with roasted chicken topped with a cucumber sour cream on a flour or corn tortilla. Marg’s combination platter of six worldly tastes costs $20 and allows customers to trot the tastes of the globe.
Kevin is no amateur to the restaurant business. He was the youngest person to obtain a liquor license in the state of Colorado at age 18 and opened Smiling Moose Deli, now a successful sandwich franchise, in Denver in 2003. Marg’s Taco Bistro came soon after and Kevin brought his manager Doug Caveney to Truckee to open the fourth Marg’s.
“This being the fourth location, it made life simpler on us,” said Doug.
Doug noted Marg’s first few weeks open have been surprisingly busy, and the community response has been great.
Kevin said he sees his move to Truckee as a way to follow his wife to where she wanted to live, since “she followed (me) around for 20 years.” He is looking forward to raising his young children in the area and settling down. Although an owner of other businesses, Kevin wants the community to know that Marg’s is still a locally owned and operated.
“Some people label us as a chain, which I’m very defensive over because it’s just us, a group of guys,” Kevin said.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
Kevin believes in names and although Smiling Moose Deli wasn’t quite on par, Kevin thinks all names should describe what’s being offered.
“I believe in the name really being what you do,” he said.
Marg’s for the signature margaritas, Taco for the way the food is presented, and Bistro for the atmosphere and ambiance of the locale.
Details that seem minor to most are deciding factors for Kevin.
All of his restaurants face a southern exposure, something he was sure to have when opening on Donner Pass Road across from For Goodness Sake.
“The whole feeling we like to portray is that you’re coming on vacation,” Kevin said. “We wouldn’t have that bistro open-air feel with a northern exposure.”
Sun and warmth are an important aspect to Marg’s, especially when outdoor seating is a factor and can be an option on a sunny day. Beer served on ice adds to the vacation-feel as well as the roll-up garage doors on the building’s façade that offer a view of downtown Truckee and the Carson range.
On the inside, bright floral lamps bring soft, colorful light to the restaurant and Pat Blide’s iron “Spike People” climb, parachute, and repel off the walls. Kevin calls the style “modern industrial with a lot of eye candy.”
The exhibition kitchen is a staple for Marg’s as well. Like the southern exposure, Kevin wants his customer to be able to see what happens behind the scenes and “see the tortilla press in action and hear it as it sizzles.”
Marg’s Taco Bistro is open daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m. with a 3-6 p.m. happy hour. The Bistro is open early on weekends for a brunch, serving favorites such as house made chilaquiles, from 8 a.m.-11 a.m.
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After more than a year since the outbreak of COVID-19, the economy in the Truckee-Tahoe area is now being allowed to fully reopen.