A new establishment opening Sunday in the Lincoln Park Craft District will cater to adults who like to eat and play. Taco Arcada features an array of classic pinball and video games and will serve up Mexican-style street tacos.
Tom Hanson and his crew are behind Duluth’s first adult arcade, a throwback concept that has been rising in popularity in recent years nationwide. Taco Arcada, located at 1902 W. Superior St., is the third Hanson venture on the 1900 block of Superior Street.
At Taco Arcada, the focus will be less about food and more about fun, according to Hanson. A bulk purchase of 30 vintage pinball machines will enable a rotating game lineup. A pinball mechanic was hired for daily and ongoing maintenance.
The building’s exposed brick walls are lined with a mix of vintage pinball and video games like Ms. Pac-Man and Big Buck Hunter. Patrons will cash in dollars for tokens to play. A row of colorful pub tables runs down the center of the space. Local artist Tom Moriarty was enlisted to paint a series of vibrant, playful murals throughout.
Taco Arcada lacks a kitchen. Hanson decided it would be better to utilize the long, narrow space for games and a bar, which will sling Mexican beers like Corona and Negro Modelo. Corktown Deli & Brews (which is two doors down) will craft the tacos and deliver them in hot boxes.
This meant Corktown’s kitchen had to be creatively reimagined to accommodate both a busy deli, oyster bar and taco bar. Hanson says they took inspiration from eateries in dense urban areas like Manhattan in order to maximize efficiency and space.
Games are Taco Arcada’s primary focus. But as with other Hanson eateries, ample research was completed before designing the menu — including a tasting tour of Mexico City.
A big takeaway from that trip will be incorporated into the tacos. The eatery plans to make corn tortillas from scratch. “The meat is almost secondary. It’s all about the tortilla and the salsa,” explains Hanson, who notes the tacos will also be topped with onion, cilantro and lime juice.
Taco Arcada’s menu will be simple. Snacks like chips, salsa and guacamole will be on offer and four types of tacos will be served: al pastor (pork with pineapple), beef barbacoa and guisado (stewed chicken). Nopales (cactus) tacos provide an option for vegans.
(Update: Taco Arcada’s tortillas are vegan. The initial tortilla recipe included lard but was revised before the establishment opened in consideration of vegetarians.)
With Taco Arcada, 10 employees will be added. Hanson also intends to open a craft cocktail bar across the street, adjacent to OMC Smokehouse late this year.
The Hanson family of restaurants (which includes the Duluth Grill, OMC Smokehouse and Corktown Deli & Brews) has been growing at an aggressive pace, completing three buildouts in three years.
Hanson says he’s been asked to go to Hermantown, Superior and Lakeside with his businesses but notes that he’s now personally invested in Lincoln Park and takes pride in the fact that the neighborhood has been revitalized in recent years.
He points out that these changes are, in large part, due to the hard work of like-minded entrepreneurs.
“The new vibrancy has to do with small businesses,” he says. “Almost every place you go into, either the owner is working there or they’re a phone call away.”
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