Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cruising for Tacos: Beechnut

Ziggy Smogdust and I have been tossing about the idea of a taco truck tour of the Southwest side. By way of reconnaissance I made a trek back and forth on Beechnut recently, from 59 to Highway 6, making note of everything available. I travel that way frequently, or at least part of it, and knew there were several but had never stopped at any nor made a list.

I found several new or very recent arrivals and passed along my list to Ziggy. I hit a couple of the units with only so-so results; Ziggy hit a couple and seems to have found a real winner.

One of the things Ziggy likes to pay attention to is whether the place does a good business or never has any customers but we've found that's not always a reliable indicator. I like to look for less common items on the menu - everybody does fajita, pollo, al pastor - but I look for things like lengua, chicharron, maybe tripas, chivo, mollejas. I like a place that does platillos, maybe enchiladas, in addition to the usual tacos, burritos, quesadillas and tortas. I also like a place that has some good naca items like the chips locos or pambazos I found recently at Taqueria Tariacuria. None of these indicators is a reliable guide to greatness, obviously; a place that does nothing but the basics that would appeal to gringos may do them very well.

The reports:

I stopped at Taqueria Barrio Alto en estilo Tierra Caliente, a truck I'd never seen before and the last one I noted, in a strip center parking lot at the corner of Beechnut and Club Creek, just inside the Beltway. I noted the menu included enchiladas but I ordered just a tripitas taco and a chorizo taco. The tripitas were chewy, with no crispiness; not bad but not as great as the tripas tacos at El Ultimo. The chorizo unfortunately was charred to a crisp, burnt and very bitter. This one didn't impress me much but I may stop again for the enchiladas.

(Tripitas on the top, chorizo on the bottom). NOTE: This unit has disappeared; there is now a Honduran bus parked there. See the post on International Mobile Vendors.

A day or so later I went to try Pollos y Tacos El Celaya, a very new, large trailer I had spotted beside a mechanic's shop at Beechnut and Kirkwood. I had never seen this one before and noted on the side they had pierna and cabeza de puerco, two very uncommon items, in addition to pollos asados and the usual taco meats. Alas, the menu in the window had cabeza de puerco crossed out and cabeza de res penciled in. It was okay but the pierna was better; I've only had this a couple of times before but this was the best I'd ever had.

Pierna on the left. This one had a table set up beside the trailer and one of the senoras brought out a folding chair for me to sit in; such amenities are seldom encountered at taco trucks.

Note: this trailer disappeared and has never been seen again.

Meanwhile Ziggy set out to try Tacos Mayra, a truck parked just about a block west of the Beltway on Beechnut that has been there a long time and is frequently very busy. I've pulled in to try this one before but found no place to park so went elsewhere. Unfortunately Ziggy found this one disappointing, the al pastor in particular being gristly and tough. This one may do a big business because it sits in front of a washateria.

Ziggy also tried Alex Mexican Grill, a large trailer on Beechnut @ Leawood, a very recent arrival on the scene. It sits in front of Alex Carniceria and there is also another Alex mobile unit in the parking lot, although not open. This one appears to be a winner. I made it over here myself a few days later and tried the al pastor and longaniza. A carhop comes to your car to take your order; a loud speaker serenades you while you dine. The menu is short but the al pastor is excellent, loaded with flavor. The longaniza (I would have called it chorizo if it hadn't been labeled) was a little dry but very flavorful and spicy. The salsa verde is excellent with a lot of heat. I really liked the accompaniments: grilled onion and nopal, radish and cucumber, plus onions and cilantro, of course. The menu includes suadero and campechano. I'll be back.

The others on my list:

Tacos Pacos - a wagon located 1 block w. of Gessner @ La Roche; it's been there a long time but is seldom busy, I noted Chivo and Cesina on the menu in the window.

Tacos Pacos - actually on Club Creek, just south of Beechnut - been there a long time, frequently busy but the last several times I've been by that way it has not been open.

I've found a third location of Tacos Pacos on Harwin @ Allday, about half way between Fondren and Gessner. A review is forthcoming soon.

Taqueria Puro Michoacan
- on Club Creek, ½ block s. of Beechnut, relatively new to this location.

Melissa’s Corn
- Beechnut @ Corporate, been there a long time

Note: Some units move regularly; these lists are often out-dated within a few days of being published. It has proved to be impossible to keep them updated.

1 comment:

Ziggy Smogdust said...

Glad that you liked Alex. The service is good there as is the presentation.