Happy Cinco de Mayo! Are you having tacos tonight? If not, don’t worry – we ate some for you.
Last weekend, Jon and I went taco-hopping with the help of three intrepid friends. Piled into our minivan, we confused the hell out of the workers at three different taco trucks along Burlington Boulevard. A clown car full of gringos, weird. Eventually we ran out of known taco truck locations as well as appetite, but I think we did pretty well.
Heading over the Skagit River to Burlington, we kept our eyes peeled. There used to be a carniceria in this area, which sometimes set up a big grill out in its parking lot, but sadly it closed last year. We found no sign of tacos until we had passed the mall, but just after Office Max we saw our first target, Taco Express.
Painted in eye-numbing colors, and blasting loud music as soon as we stepped foot inside the carport/eating area, this place had a wide range of meats available on its menu. We avoided the weanies and pineapple, and decided that our plan of attack would involve ordering tripe, pork adobada, and tongue at each of the places we visited. By getting two or three tacos of each kind, we could each have a few bites for judging purposes but not have so much that we risked filling up.
The tacos here were quite decent, served with plenty of fresh cilantro and lime. The tongue in particular was nicely cooked and tender, and the pork was greasy but tasty. The tripe was a little odd – it was deep fried and had a noticeable livery flavor, as well as a rather strange gritty texture. We’re not convinced that it wasn’t gizzard, or possibly intestine, but it was hard to say for sure. Salsa was available in little molcajetes in a cooler, which was cute.
The next stop was a totally unexpected truck at the corner of Burlington Boulevard and Fairhaven. After performing a little exciting swerve to get into their parking lot, we were delighted to see that they had a grill set up covered with chickens, and a vat of fresh horchata (described to me as “rice pudding in a glass”) on a side table. This was definitely a happening place.
We ordered our three varieties of tacos and a couple of horchatas, apparently deeply hurting the feelings of the man running the grill. He couldn’t understand why we weren’t ordering the chicken, and forced us each to taste some. It was very good, deeply salted and tender. We didn’t regret our decision, though, when we tasted the tacos.
The pork was extraordinary, full of flavor and spice. The tongue was some of the best I’ve ever had. The tripe was the weakest link, but it was still very good, just a little heavily fried. All the tacos came covered in cilantro and hot salsa, which made some of the more Scandinavian-blooded members of our party break out in a sweat, but the horchata worked very well to quell the flames. Jon tried a bottled aloe vera drink which he said was rather good.
After demolishing our tacos and promising ourselves (and the owners) to go back and get the chicken next time, we headed north again. We made it all the way to the roundabout near Burlington-Edison High School, and spied our third quarry: Tacos Tecalitlan. This seemed to be a sister cart to our favorite from the Mount Vernon taco crawl, so we expected good things from it.
There weren’t tripas on the menu here, although there was a mention of “pork stomach” that we weren’t quite sure about. We settled for tongue, pork adobada and carnitas, plus some Jarritos tamarindo soda. The sun had come out and was shining into the fiberglass carport through surprisingly elegantly cut windows in the plywood. Posters on the walls advertised Mexican band performances and a large Norteño accordion for sale.
The adobada and the carnitas were both good here, although greasy and a touch bland without salsa. Strangely, this was the only place to give us radishes on the plate, although I hadn’t noticed the lack. The tongue was disappointing – peculiarly soft, almost dissolving in the mouth. I ate some radishes to get the texture out of my mouth.
At this point most of us were tacoed out, so we headed home to clear our palates with tequila and coffee. If anyone knows of any trucks we missed on this outing, please let me know and we’ll make sure to check them out!