BY NICOLE KIEFERT | PHOTO BY DAVID SZYMANSKI
Lucia Munoz moved to Milwaukee five years ago when she married Justin Carlisle, owner of popular local restaurants Ardent and Red Light Ramen. Eventually, her husband’s knowledge and experience in the culinary industry inspired Munoz to open her own taqueria.
Born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, Munoz called on her roots and her mother’s recipes to bring authentic flavors to the Milwaukee area, on which, Munoz says, Cream City is already making great headway.
“My husband, Justin Carlisle, … [is] the one with the know-how and with the expertise when it comes to cooking,” she explains of the duo’s teamwork. “I bring the memory … because you want things to taste exactly [as you remember]. And we’re very lucky Milwaukee has very good access to [authentic] ingredients.”
Munoz and Carlisle also called upon Munoz’s homeland in choosing how to create their physical space. “Milwaukee’s Mexican food scene is wonderful, but [we’re recreating] really one tiny place of my hometown, trying to emulate the taquerias that I grew up with and I still go back to when I go home,” Munoz explains.
The Laughing Taco offers a variety of tacos, using flour and corn tortillas, some with cheese on the tortilla, like the Pirata and Gringa shown here, and stuffed with fillings ranging from steak to pork to vegan selections.
“We know that there’s a lot of people that are going on the vegetarian diet or vegan diet, so we added the potatoes and the cactus, which personally are my mom’s recipes, things that we cooked at home,” Munoz says. “It’s delicious and ... a lot of people are not aware that you can eat cactus.” Munoz is also adding Fish Taco Fridays this spring for a limited time only, offering the option on both corn and flour tortillas.
The Laughing Taco’s menu also dishes up house-made salsas, and the First Street location offers Mexican soda and beer and boozy slushies. Munoz and Carlisle also have a partnership with the Bucks to serve a separate menu in the team’s space at Fiserv Forum and as an extension for concessions in the Mezzanine Club.
The Laughing Taco, locations at 1033 S. First Street and the Crossroads Collective on 2238 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 210-3086, laughingtaco.com MKE