Ramon Q's used to dish from a space on West Colorado Avenue, but a personal crisis led Elizabeth and Michael Gilberti to close the restaurant for a year and try life outside the food world. Michael worked for a Mercedes dealership, and Elizabeth handled the family side of things.
Now the pair are back in the kitchen, slinging from a bright-orange food truck that mostly lives in Motor City. On both visits we found them in a Volvo parking lot — and can I just say the new S60 T6 R-Design is hawt — which must be a natural fit, considering the many dealership employees hitting the truck at lunch.
The air around it is heavy with the smell of sizzling meat, and the proof easily catches your ear. There's nowhere to sit, so to-go is a natural play, unless you feel like testing the dealerships' patience. We didn't encounter parking problems, but the lots aren't built with lunch traffic in mind, either. (Breakfast is also available, but we became aware of that fact too late.) Of course, the truck also makes brewery and event stops, so opportunities vary; text "ramonqs" to 51660.
The menu is pretty simple, and repeats itself often. On days that are not Tuesday, you can get a half-and-half mix of Italian and Mexican entrées, available either as a torta (sandwich) or flour-tortilla wrap. Tuesday is Taco Day, three for $6, and I like Taco Day.
Of the carnitas, carne asada, fish, ground beef and chicken options, I recommend the first three, with a "meh" on the ground beef and chicken. The former was generically fine, but the latter were dry, seasoned lumps doing little work. The asada brought skinny cuts of delicious beef twisting like driftwood, some crunching with charbroiled charm, and the fish were nicely firm and mild. The carnitas are a straight-up revelation, though. If you skip the moist shreds of pork glistening with "mojo chili sauce" that Elizabeth makes, which tastes like candied pork punched in the mouth with peppers, then I pity you.
No matter what, all are laid on a bed of lettuce, tomatoes and shredded cheese. And all come with either a mild, house-made salsa that's currently bottled and sold in local Whole Foods, or my favorite, a green-ish, brown-ish condiment flecked with habanero orange that sends you right off the edge of the Sweet Heat Rollercoaster.
On other days of the week, the torta-wrap-Italian-Mexican thing works OK. You see the same meats — though some in different forms, like the ground beef becoming meatballs and the chicken getting breaded into a delicious, tender Parmesan dish — and the same lettuce-tomato-and-cheese foundation.
A short-rib torta featured tender cuts of beef, the delicious, grease-soaked bolillo roll almost turning into some kind of shiny meat pie. The meat doesn't exhibit much character or sear, but it's seasoned well. Two skinny slabs of spicy, fragrant sausage make for a better sandwich once the bold house tomato sauce is applied, which is the same story for the meatballs. The grilled-fish wrap was also generally fine, and better for the salsa, but by this point everything was starting to taste similar.
This feeling was rescued by that killer Parmesan chicken wrap, which not only offered a more tender meat than its taco cousin, but a loose, spiced breading that just sang in tomato sauce. It was like the real thing to-go, and isn't that one of the nice things about a truck?