One of the most popular restaurant chains missing from Rolla is Chipotle. Like many, I often find myself wishing that they would open a location in Rolla, but luckily we have a place that can satisfy the craving for “made how you like it” burritos and bowls which will make you forget all about Chipotle.
American Taco Company, or ATC, is a small locally owned restaurant located at 1732 North Bishop, near Domino’s Pizza. Like many restaurants in Rolla, American Taco Company is located in a small strip mall style storefront, but the outside appearance belies the heart of the business inside.
The interior is decorated with a large mural, signed by everyone who has been to the restaurant. The mural is almost entirely covered with scrawled signatures, which have gotten more dense over the years. The tradition of signing adds a touch of community to the restaurant and provides an interesting set of messages to read over while waiting in line.
A more recent change in the scenery is the accumulation of stickers on the counters. The lower part of the counters have become absolutely covered in stickers, and now provide another point of uniqueness to American Taco Company. Stickers ranging from KMNR stickers to brand stickers form a dense wallpaper that can be entertaining to search for familiar names and designs.
Perhaps the greatest appeal of American Taco Company is the customizability of the food. Being able to quickly go in and create a personalized burrito makes the restaurant ideal for quick lunch breaks. The food itself is affordable as well and comes in large portion sizes.
Despite the name, the burritos are the main draw of American Taco Company. When I visited ATC for my review with a few friends, we all chose to have burritos, but due to the customization options, we all ended up with different meals. I chose a Quesadilla Burrito, a burrito with two layers of tortilla separated by a thin layer of cheese.
After choosing a style of burrito or bowl, the options open up, giving the customer a diverse set of choices that anyone familiar with Chipotle or Qdoba will find familiar. I opted for Spanish rice, black beans, and pork for the base and then lettuce, onion, cheddar, pico de gallo, and their creamy chipotle sauce for toppings. The options for sauces are extensive, and allow a greater level of diversity for any meal. All along the way, the friendly staff gave recommendations and explanations of the various options.
Finally it was time to eat. The burrito itself was well constructed, and stayed together well throughout my entire meal. The beans and rice were well seasoned, but not so flavorful that they distracted from the pork, which was tender and a little spicy. The vegetables were crisp and added a satisfying crunch to each bite. To top it all off, the warm melted cheese and creamy chipotle sauce perfected the flavor and gave the burrito a southwestern kick. Even though it was delicious, it was a struggle to finish the food due to the large portion size.
American Taco Company manages to find a niche in a town with four other Mexican restaurants, offering almost limitless customization and an exciting departure from some of the more formulaic Mexican food to be found in Rolla. Overall, American Taco Company is worth visiting if you are in the mood for a lot of food just the way you like it.