Hg80 is the periodic symbol and atomic number for mercury, more commonly known as quicksilver. End of chemistry lesson. I hope you’re taking notes, this will be on the test later.
HG80 is less commonly known as a four-wheeled kitchen that slings “untraditional” tacos, hand-made chips and scratch-made sodas. But that is rapidly changing. Just google HG80 and see what comes up first. Take THAT, science.
I caught up with the owner and taco crusader, Josh Berner, to have a chat over some tacos. My first question: Why the name? It turns out it’s an homage to a very special good boy.
“HG80 is named after my first dog,” Josh said. “He was a greyhound; he needed a fast name so I named him Mercury.”
Josh and his wife moved to PVD two and a half years ago from Washington, DC.
“One of the big reasons we moved to Providence is because of the great food culture,” Josh said. “I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
Managing restaurants and bartending for “years and years and years” burned Josh out. After the attrition of job-related stress and being labeled a mixologist, a term he understandably abhors, he did the most sensible thing he could: He quit his job and started a food truck.
“I don’t know how to do anything else other than restaurants at this point. So I sorta had this idea of doing tacos and my own sodas,” Josh said.
Growing up in Texas, Josh gained tremendous respect for Mexican food, but you’ll be hard pressed to find the conventional carnitas or barbacoa at this traversing taco truck. He knew that with the ubiquity of taqueria-style food trucks another one would fall on deaf ears and closed mouths. With respect for the sanctity of the traditional taco, he decided to do things his own way.
“If everyone zigs, I zag,” Josh said. “So I make different dishes that aren’t normally tacos into tacos.”
I ordered the Katz, a Reuben sandwich-style taco, and the Helen, a Greek gyro taco. I was instantly converted to the everything-is-better-as-a-taco doctrine. I made it a proper meal by adding a side of truck-made salt ‘n’ vinegar chips and a scratch-made soda.
With a background in mixolog–, I mean, cocktail making, Josh is a mixed-drink alchemist — no alcohol necessary. I sipped on the Hello Katy soda, a perfectly balanced strawberry and cilantro concoction named after Katy Perry, naturally. It’s fine, fresh, fierce and absolutely wonderful for days that are hot enough to melt your Popsicle.
There are vegan options, and all ingredients are locally sourced and gluten-free. Keep an eye on the HG80 website for menu updates as it changes often. I heard a burger taco is currently in the works…
The food truck itself is sensational. Literally. When I approached the truck there was music playing at a toe-tappin’ decibel, and there was an inlaid tv on the side playing a continuous loop of puppy and kitten videos.
“I wanted HG80 to be more than just a spot to get lunch,” Josh said. “I wanted it to be an experience.”
Where is HG80? Check their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for day-to-day updates.
To see the current locations of local food trucks, visit motifri.com/food-truck-locator, brought to you by FoodTrucksIn RI (foodtrucksin.com), a Providence-based company allowing users to find local food trucks or food trucks in over 1,300 cities nationwide.