Taco trucks predate the gourmet food truck explosion, and unlike their Twitter-happy counterparts, they remain decidedly under the radar. Exceptions include the three El Camions (elcamionseattle.com, @elcamionseattle) and a newcomer, Contigo (contigoseattle.com, @contigoseattle), which have embraced social media and maintain shiny websites. But how to approach the rest? For advice we turned to Jonathan -Kauffman. Anybody who read his restaurant criticism during his days at Seattle Weekly knows the man likes his Mexican. A self-described taco-truck obsessive who’s now at SF Weekly, Kauffman spent many a Seattle afternoon trolling for tortillas. Here’s how to do the same with delicious results.
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.