Post-Dispatch file photo

Mission Taco Joint

Only three years after the original Mission Taco Joint debuted in the Delmar Loop, brothers Adam and Jason Tilford have opened a second location in Soulard, launched a food truck, and announced plans to expand to the Central West End this spring and to Kansas City, Mo., early next year. Mission’s success is no fluke. The Tilfords keep one eye on that nebulous idea of authenticity (a wood-fired grill, tortillas made with nixtamalized corn), the other on fun (a collaboration last year with Mai Lee’s Qui Tran on a believably pho-flavored taco). The Mexican-via-California fare is impressive throughout: tacos (chile-roasted duck, beef-brisket birria), burritos (Three Little Piggies) and tortas (the chile-sauce-drenched ahogada). As impressive, the newer Soulard location is as consistently excellent as the Loop original.

Opened: 2013

Must order: Beef-brisket birria taco ($3.25)