A(nother) Moveable Feast
March 26, 2009
I have been to the taco truck four times in the last seven days, and I just can’t seem to get enough. Set squat in the middle of the Citgo parking lot, the taco truck doesn’t look like much. Its whitewashed walls are stained with cooking smoke and the menu scrawled in magic marker is just barely legible. But out of that trailer, hitched to the back of a pickup truck, drift the most magical smells of lime, sizzling meat, and roasting jalapeños. One woman is responsible for all of this, simultaneously taking orders, assembling tacos, and pressing fresh corn tortillas as she whisks her way around the small insides of the truck.
Let me preface my enthusiastic endorsement of the taco truck by saying this. I do not like Mexican food. I will almost always pick somewhere else over the kind of Mexican restaurant where one dish is indistinguishable from another, where every plate is a variation on the theme of refried beans, rice, meat wrapped in tortilla and smothered in iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream. If this what you like, don’t expect it from the taco truck.
There aren’t many options – eight types of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and hamburgers – but even still, I’ve never known anyone to eat anything but the tacos. These are served simply, in a Styrofoam box lined with aluminum foil, garnished with queso and crema, and served with a roasted jalapeño, lime wedge, and salsa verde.
I’m not sure if I can do justice to the fiery, flavorful taste of a taco truck taco. Although they’re so small you can finish one in three bites, those pungent bundles pack a big punch. The basis for each of the tacos is meat; there’s beef, chicken, chorizo, tongue, and barbeque, among a few other options that my extremely limited Spanish cannot decipher–pastor, campechanos, chicharron–and this is really the heart of the tacos. So marinated it crumbles in your mouth, the meat blends delicately with just caramelized onions, fresh cilantro, salsa verde, sour cream, lime, and the balancing austerity of a hot tortilla. There’s plenty of oil, in both the marinade and the onions, which makes one of these tacos not so good for the waistline but magnificent for the taste buds.
If you’re feeling adventurous after one of these miniature culinary marvels, take the jalapeño and eat it in one bite, feeling machismo until your eyeballs start to melt with heat. Today, after popping one of those sneaky buggers, Josh said, “I can’t feel the top of my head,” and I sympathized because of the pepper I had eaten yesterday which made it feel as if I was boiling drinking water in my mouth.
Peppers aside, these tacos are amazing. Go to the taco truck, and if you don’t speak Spanish, order whatever sounds good to you right then, because I guarantee you’ll go back. After the first addictive one, you’ll have to try them all.
Directions to the taco truck from Exit 30 (Davidson) on I-77*
1. Go north on I-77 to Exit 33
2. Turn left off the exit
3. Make a right into the Citgo parking lot
*The taco truck is only open for lunch