Columbus Monthly’s Best New Restaurants: Village Taco—The Joint
Two former “traveling hippies” offer delicious vegan takes on junk-food favorites.
When the culinary art of a locavore restaurant is used to create vegan, healthier-minded versions of beloved junk-food favorites and the eatery succeeds, you might suspect the place is dabbling in the dark arts as well. That thought might arise while ripping into the seemingly cholesterol-laden yet entirely plant-based dishes from Village Taco.
A family-run business that began, as its website reports, with “two traveling hippies selling food out of our Volkswagen van at concerts,” Village Taco derives its first name from its original brick-and-mortar operation in the Licking County village of Alexandria. Having outgrown that tiny spot, the restaurateurs—Heidi and Jonny Stone are the one-time hippies—opened a shop last February in the former Hal & Al’s location in Merion Village and named it The Joint.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit shortly thereafter, conscientious Village Taco became an exemplary takeout restaurant. For no-contact service, customers place an order, drive to Village Taco, send a text and then wait for their food to be placed on a table … near an old VW van.
Menu items can be a mouthful to pronounce, thanks to their vegan-denoting ingredients and fast-food puns. Given the bold flavors, vibrant textures and general heft, they’re a delightful mouthful to eat, too.
The gloriously messy Double Crunch Cheezy Gorvita Bacunator—a recurring special inspired by Taco Bell and Wendy’s—is a texturally dynamic and enormous flavor-bomb with a chili con carne-style base, good fake bacon, fresh veggies, bold sauces and a side of inhalable Cheezy Fiesta Potatoes.
The even saucier Rollin’ Green enchilada-burrito with a believable meat substitute, sautéed peppers, pickled onions, black beans, jicama, cabbage, rice and local greens might be bigger and better. While simpler, chips and guac and VT Style Tacos are spot-on, too. Ditto for the McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger-like McJonny’s and excellent fresh-cut fries.
Village Taco—The Joint, 1297 Parsons Ave., Merion Village, 614-869-0018, thejointcolumbus.net