TACOS ARE A LIFESTYLE
About Kurt Eller, founder, owner and partner
Many of my earliest memories are of food – in particular, the Mexican food that permeated my hometown of Austin, Texas. In the late 1960s, my family would often dine with family friends at La Tapatio where I would inevitably order the cheese enchiladas. Even then, I was fascinated by the red chile, as its spice both daunted and thrilled me.
When I was 9 years old, we moved to Clear lake, Texas on Galveston Bay and I developed an obsession with fresh seafood right off of the Vietnamese fishing boats – red fish, speckled trout, gulf shrimp and oysters.
Growing up, we would travel to New Mexico and I fell in love with the smell of green chile roasting in the fall, outside everywhere we went, permeating the air with a sweet, spicy perfume for the duration of the season.
I moved in with my father in Madras (now Chennai) in southeastern India during my sophomore year of high school where I experienced the marvels of south Indian cooking. Of course, I found the Indian version of a “taco” (a variety of proteins served in a round wheat flatbread called chapatti or naan) irresistible. My favorite pastime was learning how to cook traditional Indian dishes, especially curries, with our live-in chef, Thomas.
I moved back to Texas for my final year of high school and attended college in the region while working a variety of restaurant jobs, both front and back of house, which led to multiple ventures owning and running restaurants in my early career.
After some successes (and failures!), I entered the furniture business in 2000 after seeking some one-of-a-kind pieces for a restaurant and stumbled across Four Hands furnishings in Austin. I immediately recognized the smells and craftsmanship of Indian furniture and was transported. Literally. My new position sent me to China and back to India working with various furniture factories, areas where, again, I had the chance to experience more incredible food. It was in northwestern India, in Jodhpur and Rajasthan that I really grew to appreciate spicy, grilled Indian food.
In 2006, the furniture business took me to St. Louis. I still couldn’t get food – and New Mexico green/red chile – out of my mind and I launched Taco Buddha in 2014 as a mobile catering company (a side business) with a focus on the different chiles used in cuisines across the globe, including the beloved red and green chile of New Mexico.
The name – Taco Buddha – reflects our departure from the traditional taco concept and instead our focus on the global formula of chiles, proteins, vegetables served in bread, in our case, a tortilla. From day one, our most popular tacos have been the chicken tandoori, the Thai street beef and traditional New Mexican-style tacos. (And, of course, our 25-year-old margarita recipe!) We also offer something for carnivores, vegetarians and vegans, alike.
We opened our brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2017 in partnership with chef, Ben McArthur and have expanded our menu to include even more international flavors such as Peri-Peri made with the African Birdseye chile.
Our customers, employees and vendors are as varied as our chile and we love every single one!
Taco and humble street food capitals of the world join the celebration of creativity and food innovation inside Taco Buddha’s hatch-chile inspired southwest kitchen. It is our core purpose to bring this enlightened concept; with simplicity, humility and a purpose of happiness, to every customer that graces us.
Celebrate our customers
provide a holistic, universal dining occasion
Simplicity in product and processes
distill complication down to sure success
Diversity in our people
each member of our team has a voice to be heard
Meet Our Chef, Ben McArthur
After a few years working in area kitchens, Ben headed to North Carolina where he was hired by James Beard nominated chef, Keith Rhodes. Chef Keith took Ben under his wing and taught him an innovative approach that he has carried with him ever since. He introduced him to day-boat seafood like Carolina soft shells, black grouper and striped bass and showed him markets where produce was bought out of pickup trucks and the oyster were harvested out of the local by-waters. Ben learned the importance of using regional ingredients and involving the restaurant in the community whenever possible.
Armed with this experience, Ben moved back to St. Louis and attended both L’Ecole Culinaire and Forest Park Community College where he earned managerial and culinary degrees. From there, he worked at some of the top restaurants in St. Louis where he expanded and perfected his culinary skills. He also built long-term relationships with farmers in both Illinois and Missouri with whom he continues to work today.
Ben opened J McArthur’s An American Kitchen in July of 2015. J McArthur’s was named as one of the top ten best new restaurants of 2015 by Sauce and Feast Magazines, and the Riverfront Times, third best new restaurant of 2015 by Ian Froeb of the Post Dispatch, awarded Ian Froeb’s GO Top 100 restaurants and his beignets and scallops as the best new dishes of 2015. He was also nominated for Best Chef from both Sauce and Feast Magazines for 2015.
Ben is thrilled to join the Taco Buddha family as the Chef Consultant and assist with Concept Development. He is also excited to bring his culinary talents to special event menus influenced by Southwestern, Mexican, and Texas flavor profiles.
Taco Buddha Is a Transportive Trip to New Mexico .... and Beyond
"A deft touch is evident in all the vibrant flavors on offer, like the succulent shredded beef barbacoa. Hunks of rich beef the consistency of pot roast fill a warm corn tortilla to the point you'd think it might burst. Lettuce, onions, cilantro and lime cut through the richness; cojita cheese and avocado add to it.
Dinner & A Show: Taco Buddha
"When I came up with the name, I was thinking about something that opened up tacos to be inclusive to everything and accepting of every type of food,” Eller says. “We’re just offering honest, simple ingredients that we layer to create different flavors – humble street food."
Taco Buddha Is Now Open in University City
“Taco Buddha offers just what you would expect from its name: tacos. The flavors, however, are delightfully unexpected, representing the owners’ travels through the American southwest, Mexico, the Caribbean, India and Asia, and limited only by their imagination.”
Taco Buddha to open in University City
“Taco Buddha is world flavors put into the vessel of a taco,” said owner Kurt Eller. Eller, who came to St. Louis from Austin, Texas, said his tacos are similar to those served in the Southwest. “It’s not strictly meat and lettuce and cheese,” he said.
Taco Buddha: St. Louis' Latest New Mexican Restaurant
“As my tired-of-hearing-about-Corinthian-columns friends know, I'm equally obsessed with architectural details as I am with trying new foods. So when I discovered that there was a new restaurant serving New Mexican food in a well-designed setting, I got a little too excited.”
The best new St. Louis restaurants to try during the month of October
A-List Winner - Breakfast Tacos
"The breakfast tacos are now only served on weekends, which is a shame but may also be a shrewd business move: After all, scarcity breeds urgency. We certainly feel a little urge, thinking about those savory tortillas. The most popular choice is the Daily Scramble, a tasty jumble of egg, cheese, potato, pico, and Hatch green chilies wrapped in a flour tortilla. Consider adding chorizo or mesquite-smoked beef brisket and a drizzle of the jalapeño emulsion or smoky salsa for Buddha-style bliss."
Taco Buddha Offers Curbside Pickup
Taco Buddha Brings Globally Inspired Tacos to University City
"Eller spent much of his hospitality career in Austin, Texas, where he owned and operated several restaurants. Throughout the ‘90s, he also traveled to cities including Miami, Atlanta and San Antonio to manage various businesses that spanned everything from taco joints to high-end fusion concepts."
Taco Buddha opens on a quiet corner in University City
"It might be the size of a pocket hanky, but thanks to an owner familiar with snug sailboat galleys, these tight quarters don't cramp any part of Taco Buddha’s style. "
Taco Buddha opens in University City
“Taco Buddha serves Austin style tacos with international flare or as owner Kurt Eller puts it, "Humble vessels that have all kinds of different flavors from around the world," he said."
“Taco Buddha serves more than breakfast tacos, though, and the menu is not limited to Mexican or Tex-Mex influences, either. “We do infuse a lot of international flavors” in the tacos, Eller says. Examples include jerk and tandoori chicken.”