Moby taco

Searching for tortilla-shod greatness at CyclHOPS Bike CANtina

Susan France

I search for tacos like Ahab searched for the great white whale; with a manic obsession few understand. “Why do you need tacos,” my friends wonder as we drive on into the stormy night, eyes peeled and hands lashed to the steering wheel. “Why don’t you?” I fire back.

That was about the fervor required to find Oskar Blues CyclHOPS Bike CANtina, a combination restaurant and bike shop whose spelling-based puns make Googling the address annoying.

But my dining companion and I managed to find the place on the outskirts of Longmont before turning to Donner party tacos to deal.

While CyclHOPS vending tacos and bikes from one shop fronted with bike tools to aid commuters is an idea that deserves some sort of Nobel Prize, it also seemed slightly ironic that the location was on the sort of semi-rural drag strip of a street cyclists tend to avoid for fear of losing one of their three dimensions.

But as long as there are tacos, there is hope. And what CyclHOPS lacks in grammar or convenience, it makes up for in tacos. There are six regular varieties and a rotating series of fancy daily specials including portobello mushroom on Mondays and lobster with sweet corn and arugula on Saturdays. Tacos are $3 apiece or three for $8. There are extra charges for the seafood tacos available on Fridays and Saturdays.

My tacos arrived swiftly, despite a fairly packed house, and were served with a selection of chopped onions, pico, lime and radishes to dress them up: a taco mini-bar — something all aspiring tacopreneurs should take note of.

The best of the bunch was sweet potato and green chili, made with cubed bits of tuber as firm as protein, and tasty from being dressed up with pickled red onion and a serrano verde hot sauce.

A bowl of posole ($4) on the side had a nice rich flavor from the housemade tinga, and firm balls of hominy.

My dining companion’s Cesar Millan ($5 for small, $9 for large) was a huge step up from the average Caesar, in no small part from the addition of corn nuts — who would have thought?

Drinkwise, I’ll admit an existing bias against Oskar Blues beer. The company’s fonts look, as my dining companion said, like those of “a bad cover band made up of people that own a Confederate flag.” No matter how many awards Ten Fidy has won, sipping a can of it is still endorsing bad design. Luckily, that problem was avoided with special Oskar Blues brews on tap, like the yet-to-be-canned Death by Coconut Porter.

It only took a single sip to realize that Hal David and Burt Bacharach were wrong: What the world needs now is not “love sweet love,” but more coconut porter. Rivers of the stuff should pour from the mountains like some sort of 21-andup version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory; waterfalls that TLC can advise us not to to chase, to which we can say, “Who’s chasing? We’re drinking this, suckah!” It wasn’t a porter with hints of coconut; it was a beer Mounds Bar, all sweet, dark and gritty. No matter the fonts, it will still pass muster.

Similarly, the “Caballo Blanco,” (a Caucasian made with horchata instead of milk) ordered by my dining companion was so good the Coen Brothers should revisit The Big Lebowski and write it in as the title character’s drink of choice.

We closed with a chocolate truffle dusted with mole and habanero. “Holy weight gain, Fatman!,” is what you’d likely say to anyone left alone in a room full of those truffles. Certainly to me anyhow. The rich chocolate and mole were a perfect pair and it was chased by a wicked burn of pepper. Delish.

While I’m a staunch advocate for more taco and truffle utopias irrigated by coconut porter, truth is, by the end of the visit, this little whaler was stuffed so full I nearly had to be strapped to the roof, a situation wherein on sharp turns my arm would flop back and forth gesturing to those on the sidewalk as if to say, “Ahab beckons. Eat these tacos. FYI: It’s probably not safe to ride your bike on this road.”