Sunday, January 06, 2008

I Was a Taco Truck Virgin

NAPA, Calif.
I admit it. I never ate at a taco truck. Not because I thought I was too good to eat from a truck or because I didn't think the food was any good. It was just a matter of convenience. I never really lived anywhere that had taco trucks parked around lunch time, which seems to be the most popular time to visit a TT.

But during the holidays when I visited Napa Valley with my friends Stella and Mariusz, Mariusz made us stop at this taco truck parked on one of the main streets in downtown Napa after our visit to the Oxbow Public Market. (Yes, we could have gone to Bouchon Bakery or even grab a sandwich at Dean & Deluca, but Mariusz was craving a California taco. He doesn't find a lot of good Mexican food on the East Coast.)

This particular truck was extra shiny, and had the sign "Best Tacos" on it. I asked Stella if there was some taco commission or something that granted trucks the permission to put up a sign boasting to be the best. I mean, how do you know which one truly serves the best tacos in town?

Stella says the best way to find the best taco truck in town is to judge the line. And judging by the guys standing waiting for their tacos from this truck, we decided they must be pretty good. BTW, that's Mariusz at the very front of the line at the window putting in his order.

We got our food and got back into our car to enjoy our impromptu lunch. Above is the plate of three street tacos that Mariusz ordered. There were two types of pork tacos and a regular beef taco. Mariusz asked for the extra jalapeno and radishes, which he says is the only way to enjoy street tacos.

Stella and I shared the Torta de Cubana (or Cuban sandwich for $7). I never had one and it sounded interesting because the sign said it had jamon and chorizo. But I need to realize that jamon and chorizo doesn't necessarily mean it's the same type of meat from Spain. The jamon was everyday ham and the chorizo was hot dogs! Still, when all the meat was sandwiched together with the avocado, tomatoes and cheese, it was pretty tasty and satisfying (although a bit messy to eat). It's not going to win any points for fancy sourcing, but it really hits the spot.

So that's how I lost my taco truck virginity. It's about time, wouldn't you say?

10 comments:

Carol Kicinski said...

Oh God how I miss roach coach - excuse me - I mean taco truck tacos. When I lived in California the best tacos around were at a truck in Mountain View. I lived in Los Gatos - 30 miles away but worth every last bumpber to bumper freeway mile. I'm going to San Francisco in February and you know I am going to hunt down that truck! Thanks for reminding of the first thing to put onmy to do list!

KirkK said...

Looks great....If I were to guess was it Carne Asada, Canitas, and Al Pastor(adobada)? Looks nice a moist.

Chef Ben said...

Carol, if you're in Berkeley, my friends Stella and Mariusz say the best taco truck is in Berkeley, I think somewhere around San Pablo Ave. You should check it out.

Kirkk, you're pretty good. I'm pretty sure Mariusz had carne asada and carnitas, but not sure if the third is the al pastor. Anyway, he woofed it down pretty fast. ;P

Eric said...

Definitely time you lost your TT virginity. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Get thee to the Fruitvale! Lots of choices there.

Anonymous said...

Ben,
why didn't you get tacos at the "Best Tacos"? It's like going to Top Dog and not getting a hot dog.

I agree w/ Eric. Got to Fruitvale just a Bart ride away & get some tacos! Tons of posts on Chowhounds.

Anonymous said...

Carol, where in Mountainview was that truck? I live in Cupertino, and I too am a taco truck virgin. This whole post is inspirational. Not planning to get up to Napa, or even Berkeley any time soon, but MV is definitely do-able. Could be my first "new thing" in 2008!

Carroll (still having issues with Blogger comments format)

Chef Ben said...

OK, to answer the question about not getting tacos, I'm not a fan of street tacos because they're soft. I like the crunchy tacos. And when I saw the sign that said "chorizo" and "jamon," I thought what a fancy sandwich. But yeah, Chorizo just meant hot dogs and Jamon just meant regular ham.

As for catching the BART to Fruitvale to try a taco truck, see, this is why I'm not near any TT that's convenient. I can't imagine spending nearly $4 for a BART ticket to go buy a taco from a truck. If there were other things I can do in Fruitvale, then maybe. Anywho, I'll keep my eyes out for TTs around the Bay. Maybe they'll drive up to my apartment building! ;-)

foodhoe said...

hehe, this is so funny! taco virgin! this looks like a fine place for a first. oh you must embrace the soft corn tortillas chef ben and learn the wondrous varieties of meats and salsas to be found. there's nothing like a good lengua taco!

Anonymous said...

Ben-
sorry this is a little late-it's been awhile since I've visited your blog...
Glad to have introduced you to the world of taco trucks! I'm surprised it was in Napa, though:-)
FYI- everyone's right- the best TT's are in Fruitvale/International Blvd and if you're ever in San Jose-on Race street. When we mentioned Berkeley, it was probably a taqueria we meant- not a TT. If TT's are good enough for Anthony Bourdain, it's good enough for us...We hope to turn you into a soft taco lover! Just get past the shell and notice the yummy filling and salsas. We miss all this already...
Chez Stella

Mrs. L said...

I lost my TT virginity way back in the late 70's when they used to come at lunch (and at break time). Until then I'd only had Taco Bell tacos so the TT ones were amazingly different. I admit, I haven't had anything from a roach coach, er fly catcher on wheels, er taco truck in years.