Judging from the line out the door and down the block, Turco Taco has been a smash hit since opening last summer. Much of the credit goes to Yavuz “Oz” Ozturk, who is committed to offering clean food that has a direct impact on both the environment and personal health. He concentrates on the kitchen while his partner, Ivo Milanoksi, focuses on the front of house.
For his part, Ozturk sees nothing unusual in Turco Taco’s fusion of Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisine. “One of the most famous Mexican dishes, tacos al pastor, was actually invented by Turkish and Lebanese immigrants in Mexico in the 1920s,” he says. “The traditional, spit-roasted lamb became pork, and the thin-sliced meat was perfect in tacos.”
As the father of three children, one of whom is lactose intolerant, Ozturk is an advocate for mindful eating. Every item at Turco Taco is prepared to order, and he refuses to sacrifice quality, giving up a percentage of profits to use organic produce and meat from family farms. All of his meats are free of hormones and antibiotics, and his tortillas are handmade and gluten-free. In addition to tacos and quesadillas, Turco Taco also offers four organic salads and Pickolé popsicles, which are handmade in Miami.
Although the long-term goal is to franchise the Turco Taco concept, Ozturk is focused on never losing sight of his core principles. “I want my customers to get a high-quality meal with fresh ingredients,” he says. “You should never have to choose between a quick meal and a healthy one. We want to make people’s lives better with better food.”