Tacos are having a moment. In restaurants across the country chefs are getting creative with the street food classic, swapping in ingredients like sweetbreads and roasted cauliflower with curried crema. But let's not forget: A taco in its traditional form is nothing to discount.
Just ask Jonathan Kauffman, a taco obsessive if ever there was one. Last year as part of our feature on street food, Kauffman, a former Seattle Weekly critic who at the time was at SF Weekly (he's now at Tasting Table), offered advice for scoring an authentic meal at one of Seattle's many taco trucks. Here, his five-point plan for tortilla bliss.
1. Skip the burrito—a nuevo concept—and go for sopes, tortas, or gorditas. And look to see what other people are ordering. Taco trucks are the purview of in-the-know regulars.
2. Embrace the options before you. Even in these offal times, cuts of meat like lengua (tongue), cabeza (cheek), and tripitas (boiled then grilled intestine) aren’t easy to come by; at tortilla wagons they’re a staple. The less common buche, or stomach, is delicious, too, especially when slow-cooked in its own fat.
3. Authentic tacos are feats of flavor without the fuss. Tacos originated as street food intended for eating on the fly, so the messier (read: saucier) they are, the more they’ve been dumbed down. They needn’t more than a spoonful of salsa and cilantro and onion to pack a tasty punch.
4. Taco trucks are patrolled by the health department. Don’t dismiss one just because it’s a bit dingy, as many of them are hand-me-downs. (In his 10 years testing out trucks, Kauffman recalls getting sick once—and it was on a day when he had also eaten at an upscale eatery.)
5. Tacos el Asadero (206-722-9977) and Taqueria la Fondita #2 (206-551-0529) are serving some of the best fare out there. Get the pork adobado tacos at the former, and the carnitas and chicken sopes at the latter. Make for South Seattle, White Center, or Northgate to find other winners.