For all of the hype around newish taco/burger joint, Thurber Mingus (4400 White Settlement Rd., Fort Worth, Texas, 817-570-0537), it is apparent that the place still has a few wrinkles to iron out.
On my recent visit to the roadside eatery, I was greeted by a trio of confused-looking staff members perched against the front bar, with their backs turned to me. Once I finally got their attention, I took my place at the bar next to the open kitchen to get a peek behind the scenes. While scanning the recycled wood-paneled walls I was reminded of good times playing rock drums in this joint when it was the seedy dive bar Froggy Bottom Beach Club.
I wasn’t sure if I was reading the artsy-looking hand written chalk-board menu correctly. Maybe I’m just too spoiled by traditional taquerias, but I thought for sure $5.95 would get me more than one taco. I asked the bartender, and he confirmed my fears. But, still, for $4 to $6 they must be pretty dang good, right? Well, not exactly.
I went for the agave, ancho, lime marinated chicken thigh ($4) and the orange lime sous vide skirt steak ($5.95), accompanied by a Peticolas Velvet Hammer red ale ($4.50) from the place’s extensive craft beer selection.
After waiting a while, I glanced into the open kitchen window and noticed that my ticket was still dangling from the printer and no one was making my food. I knew it was my order because I was the only customer in the place. A server yelled into the kitchen and a young cook finally got to work.
After a few more minutes my tacos arrived. I started with the chicken thigh. It had a nice charred flesh with a zesty citrus aroma. The first bite caused my face to involuntarily contort. Holy Moly, the kitchen was…uh…generous with the lime! I had to drown out the citrus assault with a healthy swig of my bittersweet ale. Sadly, the chicken thigh was dry, lukewarm, and left my pallet covered in an acidic coat.
The sous vide skirt steak taco was visually confusing because all I could see was pinto beans garnished with parsley. I used my fork to fish out the meat. The skirt steak was slow cooked at a constant stable temperature to tender perfection and the orange and lime (a reoccurring theme) popped out immediately. The camp beans were good but I would have liked the bacon to have more of a presence and an overall more developed flavor. The beans were begging for some Mexican oregano, bay leaf, and fresh garlic to achieve true “camp bean” flavor. The moisture from the beans mixed with the addition of the white queso made for a slippery, wet mess that ran down my shirtsleeve. I did enjoy the red salsa but my lasting memory of the skirt steak taco was a slimy hot mess.
The place failed to deliver good food or fast service. It’s a cool spot, so I hope the staff figures things out –– and maybe lay off the lime a little.