New “Buenos Tacos” Restaurant Opens in Downtown Hamilton

Buenos Tacos, a well-known food truck in Hamilton and Madison County, has opened a brick and mortar restaurant at 22 Utica Street in Hamilton. The restaurant’s grand opening took place on May 5 and the restaurant is now open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. for pick-up Tuesday through Saturday. Orders can be placed by phone or on their website. The food truck will continue to be available for events and parties. 

According to their website, the Buenos Tacos food truck has served Southern-Californian style Mexican food to Madison County for three years. Chef and owner Nicole Marshall decided that it was time to open a restaurant. Although her food truck was popular, it was not sustainable because she could not operate it year-round. 

Marshall said their May 5 opening was an overwhelming success.  

May 5 was absolutely nuts! We were literally overwhelmed and had to stop accepting orders at 2:30 p.m. to try to keep up with the capacity of orders we had,” Marshall said. 

The opening was so successful that the restaurant sold out of almost everything and had to close on May 6 to prepare more of their homemade salsa, according to the restaurant’s Instagram. It reopened on May 7 to continue online takeout orders. 

Marshall said she currently has one fulltime employee but is working on hiring several more to cover demand. She also had to alter the original menu to allow quicker order times and shared the difficulties of opening a restaurant amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“COVID-19 was a shock and it slowed us down, and there are food shortages that cause some difficulties in offering our usual menu. But it actually has helped with customer volume as we work on the many kinks and growing pains of opening a new business,” Marshall said

The restaurant’s website also addressed cleanliness and hygiene in an announcement about their COVID-19 response. 

“We are taking careful steps to protect the safety and well-being of our staff and customers. We look forward to opening our restaurant again for full and normal service,” the website states. 

Marshall and her husband Matt moved to Hamilton five years ago to be closer to family. The couple was considering opening up a bakery or cafe in town when Matt was offered a position as manager of M&M Press, a local print shop. Marshall was thinking about what came next for her when she found a food truck for sale on the side of the road. 

“We had driven past it several times when I decided that I wanted it. I knew as soon as I saw it that I was going to make tacos,” Marshall said. “I was missing San Diegan cuisine and culture, frankly. Mexican influence is woven into San Diego’s history and feels like home.”

Marshall never attended culinary school but was tutored by a chef in the California Conservation Corps. Through jobs in lumber mills, administration and hospital kitchens, she was constantly bringing home recipes from her co-workers to try at home. When she later moved to Hawaii, she was doing trade work on organic farms while also working at the health food store where Matt was the head baker and chef. 

“We started playfully competing with food we made for each other and wanted to start something of our own.” 

Marshall said she hopes the restaurant will become a community institution. 

“We hope to become a place where people want to be, especially homesick west coasties!” Marshall said. “This town is pretty amazing and the support from the local people and  businesses in and around town to keep each other going is precious and irreplaceable.”

Even Chuck, their beagle puppy, has a role as restaurant mascot.

Senior Grace DiRisio said many students love the Buenos Tacos food truck and out of all the food vendors that attend Colgate events, the food truck has always been her personal favorite. She and her roommates are spending time in their off-campus residence in Hamilton before their lease terminates, so DiRisio was able to order from the newly opened restaurant.  

“I had the pollo asado burrito and it was really good. A lot of their food is pretty expensive I think, but the burrito was big so it was a lot of food. They also have specials Tuesday through Saturday which look like really good deals for students,” DiRisio said. “I would order again if I were here in Hamilton longer.”

Senior Karen Aguliar said she has always looked forward to visiting the Buenos Tacos food truck at Colgate athletic events, Taco Tuesdays and on the Hamilton village green during the summer. 

“Anyone who knows me knows I am from Texas and a taco fanatic. When I heard Buenos Tacos Food Truck was in Hamilton or on campus, I would order [six] tacos just for myself. Their tacos are as close to authentic as they can get in Upstate New York and definitely satisfy the cravings,” Aguilar said. 

Aguilar said she remembers the Marshalls talking about opening up a restaurant in town about a year ago. She said their tacos are well made and she thinks the restaurant will be a hit among students. 

“I think Buenos Tacos will be extremely successful in Hamilton,” Aguilar said. “I am beyond excited to visit campus, not just to see my old friends, but to grab the best taco I have had in Upstate New York.