The folks over at Taco Trucks Columbus have been doing some great things for the food scene in Columbus – between that project and it’s sister project, alt.eats.columbus, they’ve taken the mystery out of ethnic eats in Cowtown. Over the last year, they’ve hosted a handful of taco truck tours in different parts of town – each one seeming to be more successful than the last. In the process, they’ve been an asset to local taco trucks, fostering an interest in taco truck culture that spans across just about about every demographic. I’m heartened to see them, in more recent months, evolving to taking a more active role as an advocate and liason for taco truck owners.
We were thrilled that this one was taking place in our part of town – all of the taco trucks involved are just a couple of miles away from us, so it only took us about 5 minutes (driving) to get over to the staging point. If the line at Little Mexico when we got there promptly at 4 was any indication, the turnout for this one was massive. What makes it more impressive was that it had been raining all morning, and there was the threat of more rain for the entirety of the day. About 50 bicyclists took a gamble with the elements and biked in from all different parts of the city.
We grabbed a map, and decided to start at one of the other trucks, hoping to beat the crowds. The organizers were kind enough to list the specialties of each truck and helpful Spanish terms for communicating with the taco truck owners.
We started out at Las Delicias II, a truck that has opened in the past couple of weeks by the same owner of Las Delicias, just a stone’s throw away.
Las Delicias II specializes in seafood – different types of ceviche and cocktails. Since I love seafood (P. does as well, but has to be much more careful because of a shellfish allergy), this was probably the truck I was looking forward to the most.
I hope to work my way through their menu.
But knowing that I still had other taco trucks in front of me, we decided to just get a ceviche tostada each. It was quite refreshing, and it was only after Bethia mentioned it that I realized that the reason that it tasted so familiar was that the woman making it used to run the Marisco Mi Chula taco truck that was on Sullivant Avenue at one time. I loved that place, and am glad to see the seafood tradition carried on at Las Delicias II.
After leaving Las Delicias II, we headed over to one of our favorite taco trucks, Los Potosinos. We’re honored to also be able to consider the taco truck’s owner, Lidia, among our friends – even though her food is unbelievably good (try her pollo al carbon, it’s absolutely wonderful!), we like to come here because we enjoy her company.
Ever the smart businesswoman, she hired live entertainment, in the form of a young man playing cover tunes on a guitar.
She had been wiped out of her signature pollo al carbon earlier in the day, and was in the process of making more when we got there, with it still having about an hour to go. So we decided to try a couple other dishes this time around. Her chile rellenos are poblano peppers filled with both chorizo and cheese, and then batter dipped and fried. It was among one of the better preparations of this dish that I’ve had, although the next time around I’d forgo the rice and beans and just get a second relleno.
I wasn’t quite as crazy for the Enchiladas Potosinas – deep fried shells filled with what I believe to be a spicy bean mixture. I could see how this would appeal to someone else, though.
And I finished up there with a small coco nieves, which is like a coconut sorbet. Definitely refreshing!
We’re regulars at the next taco truck, Los Guachos. It’s not unusual for us to eat there 2-3 times a week, every week. They are one of the few taco trucks to offer a weekly special (buy one get one free al pastor tacos on Tuesday nights, which makes them a steal at 75 cents each!), so it makes an already reasonably priced meal a downright steal!
So what is so special about Los Guachos, you say? Their spit roasted al pastor pork. They stack highly seasoned pork on a spit, and then cook it to order. It’s fun to watch the person manning the spit cut the meat off, and then with a flick of his wrist, putting a bit of pineapple on top. We usually get ours with extra pineapple – it adds something amazing to the mix.
The tacos are delicious enough on their own (topped with onion, cilantro, some lime juice spritzed over top, maybe a little salsa verde), but the standout here is the gringa, a flour tortilla topped with Oaxacan cheese which is then grilled on a flat top until browned (think halloumi!), and then topped with some of that wonderful al pastor and the rest of the usual taco fixins’. It is hands down our favorite taco truck item anywhere in town, and if we ever move away from Columbus, it is something I will miss and crave like crazy.
When the Big Bass Brothers reviewed (mp3 file of the broadcast here) the local taco trucks a couple of weeks ago, Corby complained that the meat didn’t have much flavor at the taco trucks – although I disagree completely (especially at this particular taco truck), I just wanted to point out to anyone that listened to that and let it affect what they order (or whether they visit), that most (if not all) taco trucks have a condiment bar where you load up on the flavor/texture, etc. This, for example is what Los Guachos offers:
and just about all taco trucks offer a choice of red or green sauce (I prefer green, since it’s usually not as hot as the red). The point is, experiment with different combinations of flavor to see what works for you, and if in doubt, ask – the taco truck owners are all super friendly, and more than happy to answer any questions you have.
By the time we were done at Los Guachos, we were stuffed, and shuffled off to head home full and happy. I hope that the event introduced a few new people to the joys of taco trucks, cleared up any misconceptions about them to area neighborhood associations, and showed local business associations what a diverse group of people enjoy them. I heard rumblings of someone wanting to organize a Taco Truck Festival at Westgate Park, and I think it’s an awesome idea! As a resident of the west side, I think the trucks and the culture they offer Columbus is something to be proud of and something that could draw other people to this side of town. I hope that Taco Trucks Columbus organizes many more of these this year. My goal this year is to try every active taco truck at least once. đ