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Rancho Relaxo

Rancho Relaxo has taken its show on the road. The Mexican restaurant and music venue, a College St. fixture for 16 years, has gone curbside with its latest venture, Rancho Relaxo Gourmet Food Trucks.

True to the restaurant’s menu, the truck features Mexican staples like fish tacos, burritos and quesadillas. But owner Donnie Blais says the new truck owes more to the Rancho family’s Blazing Kitchen side venture, which provides craft table and catering services for “pretty much every film in the city,” than the Rancho Relaxo kitchen itself.

“We created a simple little fish taco you can assemble on film sets,” Blais says of the truck’s menu centrepiece. “We’ve always done quesadillas and burritos and fajitas and that kind of stuff. But the way that fish tacos sort of took over our catering – we’ve been doing weddings that were based around fish tacos, large corporate events, stuff like that,” says Blais, who’s co-launching the truck with partner Yurgo Antonopolous. “So it seemed natural to just get a truck and put our fish tacos on the road.”

In addition to those crowd-pleasing tacos, which feature basa with a cornflake coating, pico de gallo and chipotle mayo, the menu features chicken or portobello mushroom quesadillas alongside chicken, beef or veggie burritos – “more of a street burrito” than the fork-and-knife version served in the restaurant, Blais says. You’ll also find slow-roasted cochinita pibil on a bun and an occasional shrimp taco special.

There’s also a few healthy nods to the catering side, including acai berry smoothies and a kale-yam-quinoa dish Blais created on a movie set. “The star of this series had a personal chef, and he had to leave for the day, and he asked me to make her something for lunch. I asked him, ‘What is it that she likes?’” The concoction he threw together ended up being a catering-table hit. (“I shoulda named it after her,” he laughs.)

With their license just approved at the end of June, Blais concedes that the truck is getting a late start this year, but they’re hoping to join as many events as possible during the coming season, including music festivals like RIOT Fest. The catering vets also plan to fold the truck into the film catering biz, but Blais says the next step is to stake out some street corners and launch themselves into curbside service: “It’s mostly just for the good fun of being on the street.”

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