Deep in the Western North Carolina mountains, in a small town not exactly on any national food media map, neon red food truck Relish serves as a welcome beacon to vacationers and locals. Chef Eric Taylor and his wife Schorr have built a cult following that extends well beyond their gravel lot on the fringe of Lake Lure, thanks to the incredible attention to detail that goes into every unassuming styrofoam box of their tacos.
A quick glance at Relish’s menu (which resides next to a quirky taco-wielding Bigfoot statue), reveals this isn’t the average taco stand. unexpected ingredients, like antelope sausage, elk, chile toreados, and hatch chile crema punctuate the offerings.
Relish strives to blend the quality and flavors of a fine dining experience with the come-as-you-are casual vibe of a food truck meal. “I was classically trained, and every place I ever cooked was high-end,” Eric explains, “I didn’t even know how to assemble a hamburger. Schorr had to show me how to assemble a hamburger the right way. Those dainty little plate-ups are what I’m used to.”
They may have scrapped the delicate towers of food and plating tweezers, but the couple remains committed to the art of flavor. “Everything I was taught about making your own stock and sauces and making things fresh? That goes in here,” says Eric, “Every week, it’s new sauces and making sausage. That’s the main thing for us: Everything’s got to be fresh. Everything. We don’t use anything out of the box; we barely fry anything.”
Spice is the cornerstone for Relish’s menu. Eric, a Texas native, attended culinary school in Arizona and spent time in Mexico before working in Colorado and New Mexico. His background explains why the Relish menu is peppered with, well, peppers. Red chili salsa, spiced pepitas, poblano crema, chilies chicharrones, and raspberry chipotle vinaigrette are just some of the ways heat sneaks into each dish. Schorr jokes about her spice-loving husband, “Sometimes I’ve got to reel him in. Easy, buddy.”
Eric’s dedication has paid off, but he admits it’s been a journey. When Schorr and Eric first came to Lake Lure, a town with a population of roughly 1,600 people, they toned down their menu to appeal to local palates. Slowly, they’ve cultivated a trusting following. “People now know we’ve got good food, and they’ll try anything now,” Eric says.
Today, the truck serves up a permanent menu of beloved favorites and rotating, more adventurous specials. The breakfast sandwiches, elote tacos, and fried catfish sandwiches ensure there’s something for everyone, but the weekly specials are where Eric’s creativity shines. These often incorporate game meats from Broken Arrow Ranch, like quail, elk, antelope, and even ostrich. For instance, a recent migas special featured tortilla chips topped with a fried egg, house-made elk sausage, hatch chile crema, chile toreados, and cotija cheese. “We’re all about new and different. What food truck puts elk on a menu?”
Find Relish at its permanent location on the spacious gravel lot at the corner of Island Creek Road and Memorial Highway, Wednesday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.