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Chow Hound: Neno's food truck gets brick-and-mortar

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Walking into the new brick and mortar location of Neno's Gourmet Mexican Street Food (649 Monroe Avenue), the first thing you notice is the vibrant colors on the walls -- a perfect complement to the colorful food truck that has been serving locals since 2015. The small space is ideal for grab-and-go, or setting up at the counter to wolf down a few tacos.

Fidelio Rita Jr. runs the business with his brother, Eden, and sister, Ojayra. The siblings came to the United States from Mexico in 2007 after their parents had already moved to Rochester and worked hard for a few years in order to bring their children here. Fidelio frequented Paola's for tacos, and when the owner presented him with the opportunity to buy his food trailer and start making his own food, Fidelio got the money together and started making and selling his own tacos part-time.

"It was just for fun at first. I like to cook and I wanted to do it my way, try something different," he says. After working the festival circuit, catering, and serving lunch downtown, another opportunity arose. The owner of the Bento Box food truck offered to sell his truck to Fidelio and his siblings. Their goal was to have it painted, permitted, and ready to go by the first Food Truck Rodeo of the season, and they made it happen.

The truck was just selling tacos at first, but the menu has expanded in the new brick-and-mortar location. You can still get three tacos, topped with pickled red onions, radishes, queso fresco and salsa verde for $9 or $10, depending on your protein. Also on the menu are three different tortas, sandwiches made on Focaccia bread. The Cuban torta ($12) is made with breaded pork loin, mustard, mayo, refried beans, smoked ham, Oaxaca cheese, mixed greens, and avocado. Those with an adventurous palate can try a side of the ghost pepper cheese ($2) and wash it down with an Agua de Horchata ($3.75), a traditional Latin American rice drink.

It truly is a family affair at Neno's, and when the siblings set out to do something, they get it done. Fidelio hopes to keep expanding the menu and looks for inspiration from top chefs like David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurants. He's already talking about what's next and plans to open a bigger restaurant. But don't worry, you can still find the food truck when you need it.

Neno's Gourmet Mexican Street Food (649 Monroe Avenue) is open Tuesday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Find them on Facebook at facebook.com/nenosfoodtruck/.


Quick bites

ROC the Falls will take place on Friday, September 7, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Genesee Brew House (25 Cataract Street). This celebration, presented by The City of Rochester and Genesee Brewing Co., is free to the public and features live music, local food trucks, and a live and interactive art exhibition by Shawn Dunwoody. Guests are encouraged to park for free at the High Falls Garage (240 State Street). More information at geneseebeer.com/rocthefalls/.

The RochesterVegFest takes place on Saturday, September 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Martin Luther King Jr. Park at Manhattan Square (353 Court Street). This annual festival features exhibitors like Red Fern, Lollypop Farm, Happy Cakes Vegan Bakery, and more. This year's speaker roster includes Kitchen Verde and Verde Health owner Sarah Goodenough, Livegan podcasters, Kevin Lahey and Ben Le Roi, and Dr. Milton Mills, a critical care physician featured in movies like "What the Health," and "The Invisible Vegan." Admission is free but a $3 donation gets you a raffle ticket. More information at rocvegfest.org.

KettleFest will take place on Saturday, September 15, at Kettle Ridge Farm (515 Log Cabin Road) in Victor. This will be the fourth year of the festival that celebrates sustainable farming and artisanship. The event features local food trucks, along with wineries and breweries, and over two dozen artisan vendors. KettleFest kicks off at 10 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Admission is $7 per person, with children under 13 admitted free. For full details, visit kettlefest.com.

Interested in starting your own food business but wonder where to get the funds? The Commissary, a Rochester-based kitchen incubator, will host a seminar on Thursday, September 20, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (40 Franklin Street) on "Access to Financing: Securing Loans for your Food Business." A panel will lead the discussion with representatives from Venture Job Foundation, PathStone, Kiva, and ESL. Admission to the talk is $15 and tickets can be purchased here.


Closings

Great Harvest Bread Company (210 Park Avenue) has closed.


Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to food@rochester-citynews.com.

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