Tipsy Avocado is our third food truck review in the series #LysEatsTrucks. Pseudo food connoisseur Lys reviews community choice trucks to help you narrow down your next food truck meal.
Readers, if I might have a soapbox for a moment before I present Tipsy Avocado’s review. A frequent complaint I see when folks are discussing food aversion in relation to sensory issues is, “They didn’t even try it! Heck, they just looked at the menu and declared nothing could be eaten. That’s just picky eating.”
Our brains are pretty good at building from scraps of knowledge. A hint here, a clue there, a previous experience to add context. Those of us with sensory issues use those same tools to pre-assess the potential sensory WTFery of a new situation, experience, or in this case, food.
I’d had a sneaking suspicion that fan favorite Tipsy Avocado was going to be the most sensory complex food truck for me to try. My tacos are usually quite sparse, and the pictures I’d seen of menu items were far from that style.
The visual overwhelm of their signature Tipsy sauce, chopped cabbage, salsa fresca, fresh mango salsa, sriracha mayo and pickled red onions is a lot to take in when sight is used to assess what texture might feel like. And that was just their regular beef taco.
As I waited in line, it was a fight to keep myself from ordering two plain corn dogs and calling that the review. Watching the extensively decorated tacos and nachos leave the truck as a dozen plus customers ordered, waited, and collected, I had time to contemplate.
But Tipsy Avocado has two excellent trump cards when you get to the order window. Frontman Chad greets each customer with the rocker-surfer vibe of that dude who knows everyone and is happy to see them. His charisma easily cons you into ordering instead of humming and hawing.
Pair the visual of loaded foods with the price on the menu, and there’s some good bang for your buck. I stuck to my script and ordered a beef taco, a chicken taco and a churro for dessert. Then I waited with other customers for freshly made grub.
While the power couple behind the food truck, Melanie and Chad Atwell, swear by the efficacy of their mid-’80s “air conditioning” unit — a bus driver’s fan — the rising temperatures of Nanaimo summers mean you’ll probably be waiting under the oak tree kitty-corner to the Harewood Centennial Park’s skatepark.
With a love of the colours Mexican street cuisine brings to the table, the Atwells launched Tipsy Avocado in 2021 to bring their favorite cuisine to Nanaimo. Their signature sauce, the inspiration for the truck name, is a lime-infused spin on Mexican crema fresca.
After perfecting the sauce, along with the other sauces and salsas, the duo fell in love with the namesake creation. That same love is what created fan-favorite dishes such as Deep Fried Havarti (three pieces of golden deep-fried havarti with homemade burrito sauce) and Cowboy Candy (sweet pickled jalapeños, homemade weekly).
As I’d expected, there was a gut reaction of “too much sensory, abort mission” when I looked at my meal. It took a bit of willpower to take the first bite of the beef taco. But if a resounding chorus of flavors, textures and aromas is something you appreciate in a good meal, Tipsy Avocado will probably deliver what you’re looking for. Even I, panicky as I was over the deluge of different crunch factors, could enjoy the garlicky tang of salsa fresca and the perfectly tender shredded chicken and beef.
Unfortunately, that sensory ride doesn’t seem to quite carry over to the churros. While the favoured dessert does have the perfect combo of crunchy outer shell and chewy soft dough center, the flavour doesn’t match the experience. Maybe my luck of the draw left me with an under-sweetened sample, lacking in cinnamon, sugar or flavour. But this shouldn’t keep you from Tipsy Avocado. If this sensory nightmare of a writer can enjoy their claim-to-fame tacos, you’re bound to find a favourite on their menu.
If time is of the essence, keep an eye on their socials for updates on their hours and location and get there ASAP. Tipsy Avocado’s usual spot at Harewood Centennial Park means there’s almost always a crowd eager for a taco or two, no matter the weather.
Note: I did eventually try their corn dogs. Pals recently learned that I’ve never actually tried a corndog and I was promptly marched down to try them out. Free tip for ya: Order the Morty Special, which is one “old school” corn dog paired with one Mexican street style. That way you can experience the incredibly satisfying crunch of the batter unhindered by sauce, and then enjoy the “tipsy” mess that is the Mexican street style. You’re welcome, readers.