Sticky BBQ Tofu Tacos. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Fuse Your Taste Buds

Taco Mogo brings a revitalizing experience of ingredients to downtown Eugene

 Imagine binding a taste of two cultures that are 7,000 miles apart, each with a distinct culinary background and palate — a sapid combination that removes each region’s borders and lets us in. 

Well, think no further, Eugene, and grab a seat at Taco Mogo, the Korean-Mexican restaurant on Pearl Street that offers a unique blend of two disparate cultures that are big on food.

“Everything came up with the sauces. It’s Mexican, but the sauces are mostly Korean mixed,” says Yoon Bigot, Taco Mogo owner and cook. 

The heart of the Taco Mogo dishes are Korean-influenced but with a Mexican twist, Bigot says. The dishes have all the familiar items found in the Latin American country — tacos, burritos, birrias and nachos — but Bigot says her Korean background is the elemental kick the restaurant adds.

One recipe that plays with the dyadic theme is the Korean radishes, a thin layer of pickled root that’s veiled over most of the dishes. It creeps with each recipe as a candied, crunchy and flavorful addition to almost everything on the menu.

Taco Mogo also serves most of its proteins as Korean-style barbecue. For those unfamiliar with the method, it is usually a way of marinating the meat in equal parts soy sauce, sesame seed oil, garlic and ginger. And trust me, Taco Mogo plays an excellent part in this style of food.

The restaurant has been open since late February 2023, and, interestingly enough, is the area’s second Korean fusion restaurant with tacos on the menu, following Chi’s Korean Tacos, which opened in 2018. Yoon says the inspiration for her own restaurant came from her Mexican daughter-in-law.

“We were joking together and saying we should open a Korean-Mexican restaurant,” Bigot says, adding that  her daughter-in-law helped build some of the recipes for the menu. Yoon was also able to decorate the restaurant with some papel picado (decorative punched paper), along with a logo of a dragon with a sombrero on greeting you at the door.

Taco Mogo isn’t Yoon’s first restaurant. In fact, she also owns and runs Bon Mi, a Vietnamese restaurant around the corner on East Broadway, serving authentic banh mi Vietnamese sandwiches and soups like pho.

“I lived in Orange County, with a lot of Vietnamese people around, and that’s where I started,” Bigot says. Born in South Korea, Yoon moved to Eugene at 19, along with her siblings. In 1996, she moved to California with her husband and worked in the restaurant industry there for eight years, and she says that is where she picked up most of her restaurant traits before returning to Eugene in 2004.

While Taco Mogo hinges on marinated meats and homemade ingredients, Yoon aspires to feature a rotating menu, experimenting with and mixing in new items and recipes that people might enjoy. 

Birria Ramen. Photo by Todd Cooper

One of the newest items is the birria ramen, a dish that combines two distinct ingredients of Mexican flavors with an Asian classic: birria tacos with ramen noodles. Birria tacos feature braised beef, spices and a unique taco shell that is soft and tender, and are usually dipped in a soupy consummé sauce or broth. Add traditional ramen, with noodles, pork slices and an egg served in a miso broth. The unique composition of this dish offers something new both in flavor and appearance as the diner dips a taco into the ramen soup.

There’s also the tofu tacos, a vegetarian lover’s platter that hits right at home, even for those who aren’t big on vegetarian meals. The tofu is lightly marinated in Korean barbecue sauce and deep fried, and comes with a variety of sauces, both red and green, and with the pickled in-house favorites.

Finally, there’s the kimchi menu, a power trio of red pepper cabbage, bean sprout and bok choy kimchi. The items can be sampled together or ordered individually as a side. The kimchi is made in-house daily and goes with multiple dishes from Taco Mogo’s menu. 

Taco Mogo is at 860 Pearl Street and open 11 am to 9 pm Monday-Saturday. Take out is available 541-505-8012,