Vehicle City Tacos Serves Fresh Mex in Flint
When living in Austin, Texas, and working for Apple a few years ago, Danny Moilanen got an idea: If he ever found himself back in Flint, he’d open a food truck. Since there aren’t a lot of late-night food options in the city, a food truck made sense to him.
Sure enough, he moved back to Flint a few years later. And while he didn’t have professional cooking experience, he did know a thing or two about the DIY ethos, so he dug in.
He learned about a grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and applied on a whim with his then-business partner, who has since moved on to open and run another kitchen. They ended up winning, paving the way for the food truck.
After officially launching in 2014, they have built a following at events and by parking at places such as Tenacity Brewing.
At Vehicle City Tacos, you won’t find the typical ground beef, cheese, lettuce and tomato combo. Instead, you’ll find tacos such as The Seoul Man, Moilanen’s take on the Korean taco, which was popularized by celebrity chef Roy Choi, boasting bulgogi (marinated beef), kimchi and queso fresco. There’s also The Clucker, a fried chicken taco (the addition of habanero mango salsa makes it “The Mother Clucker”). Even The Regular isn’t so ordinary, with housemade chorizo, chipotle crema and pico de gallo.
Moilanen draws his influences from his travels (he spent the winter cooking in Australia and Hawaii) and takes inspiration from his city; in the past, he offered The Flintstoner, a riff on the Flint Coney dog.
“It’s really important to me to make something unique and original,” he says. Mostly everything is made from scratch, from the marinades for the meats to the fresh salsas that top the tacos. This season he is planning to grow some of his own produce. This past spring, he was in the process of preparing the empty lot next to his house to grow cilantro, tomatoes, jalapeño peppers and microgreens.
As for a brick and mortar, Moilanen says it’s definitely the long-term goal, but for right now he’s focused on building his brand. Last fall he launched another pop-up concept with former Vehicle City Tacos prep cook Alex Fleece to bring Vehicle City Po’Boys to Tenacity Brewing.
If Moilanen does find the perfect space for a brick and mortar, one thing is for sure: It will have to be in Flint. His business is about promoting the city and bringing people back to Flint.
“It’s really important to me to operate within the city and to be a member of and support the culinary scene that exists here. There’s a lot of talent here, a lot of young chefs doing some really interesting food,” he says. “Our farmers’ market serves as a sort of focal point and hub for a lot of that activity. It’s exciting, it’s growing, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
Find out more at Vehicle City Tacos