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Klondike sucker-punched Americans in the nostalgia muscle, announcing last week it would no longer produce Choco Tacos. Social media users bemoaned the loss of an ice cream truck staple, even as many admitted they actually had not eaten one in years.
Andrea Seppinni, too, once craved Choco Tacos, but that was three or four years ago. She was in position to do something about it as chef and co-owner of all-vegan Conscious Creamery.
Conscious Creamery has riffed on the Klondike classic by making dairy- and gluten-free gelato tacos since the late 2010s. Sales of the North Oak Park gelateria’s imitation Choco Tacos rose 25-35% after Klondike’s announcement, Andrea’s husband and co-owner Kevin Seppinni said, as people rushed to 3400 Broadway, Suite 100 for a gussied-up taste of childhood.
“I did it out of passion. I’m selfish that way — I really like dessert … and that’s where the taco came out of, (the fact) that I really wanted one,” Andrea Seppinni said.
Andrea Seppinni cut dairy out of her diet in the late 2000s for health reasons, and was inspired to start Conscious Creamery when she and Kevin kept returning to a vegan gelateria on their 30th anniversary trip to Vienna in 2015. The Seppinnis sold gelato scoops and bars from a roving Conscious Creamery cart for five years before opening their brick-and-mortar store in 2021.
Conscious Creamery’s tacos start with a gluten-free waffle cone “tortilla,” filled with a housemade fudge ribbon. As those elements solidify in a freezer, Andrea Seppinni churns cashew cream-based vanilla gelato, which is then piped on top of the fudge before the whole thing is frozen overnight.
The tacos are hand-dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in toasted almonds the next day, frozen again and individually wrapped in plastic and labeled. At $7.50 per taco, they don’t come particularly cheap, but Conscious Creamery’s three-person production team is far smaller than Klondike’s and the product more niche.
“What (the customer is) getting is so substantial and (has) such good ingredients and (is) so tasty,” Kevin Seppinni said. “The Choco Taco didn’t have that quality because it was mass-produced.”
Conscious Creamery’s base gelato taco is available year-round, and Andrea devises special variations for holidays (think strawberry, vanilla and blueberry for July 4). Try for yourself from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
What I’m Eating
Zulfiqar “Guddu” Haider is a one-man band at Kabab Hut, his halal Pakistani/North Indian restaurant at 6661 Stanford Ranch Road, Suite J in Rocklin. Haider takes orders at the counter, scurries to the back to operate multiple burners and delivers dishes to loyal fans, some of whom have followed him from his since-closed San Francisco restaurants.
The menu is sizable for such a limited staff, but all regulars know the must-try dish: tandoori fish ($16). Peppery tilapia contorted like tentacles around a skillet loaded with onions and cabbage, the flavor-packed fish charred on the edges yet fluffy and white inside.
Haider’s complex chicken karahi ($12) stood out as well. Breast meat in a creamy, piquant sauce had just the right heat level, and coriander seeds and shards of raw ginger gave surprise bursts of flavor throughout. Alas, the only kebab I got at Kabab Hut — lamb boti ($14) — was well-seasoned but overly tough.
Lahori chikar chole ($11.50) is common on the streets of Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city, but rarely seen on Sacramento-area restaurant tables. At Kabab Hut, it’s a vegetarian delight: thick brown curry full of chickpeas cooked so tender they fall apart with the softest bite.
Openings & Closings