taco crawl: Burlington

Taco Express

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.

Taco Express

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.

Taco Express

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Mount Vernon taco crawl

Mount Vernon taco crawl

It recently occurred to me that we’ve lived in Mount Vernon for twelve years now and have never done a comparative study of all the taco wagons here in town. With the able assistance of my husband and two taco-loving friends, I set out to do so last Saturday.

(Mount Vernon, by the way, is a particularly good place for taco tastings, as our population is about 25 percent Hispanic. This crawl just covered taco wagons, but if you included groceries, taquerias, family restaurants, carnicerias and ladies-who-make-awesome-tamales, you’d be kept busy for quite some time. Anyway – on to the tacos.)

Mount Vernon taco crawl

Our first stop: Taqueria La Bamba. This truck has been set up on College Way for at least ten years, but since we moved out of the neighborhood we hadn’t visited. Its location is prime, near both the community college and the largely Hispanic Kulshan neighborhood. It boasts a large permanent dining area, several outdoor tables and a highly dangerous looking rope swing.

Mount Vernon taco crawl

We decided to order four types of tacos, getting two of each so we could all taste. We picked lengua (tongue), asada (beef), adobada (pork) and tripas (tripe). We also picked up a couple of bottles of tamarind soda pop, one of the best things to drink with a taco besides beer.

Mount Vernon taco crawl

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Old School BBQ

Old School BBQ

After our long and rather nasty pass crossing last week, we were starving as we came down the valley. We usually stop at the Sultan Bakery for egg salad sandwiches and soup, but this time we were determined to try a new place that had been recommended to us by Pitmaster Gil of the Depot Smokehouse in Everett. It’s a barbecue joint run out of an old school bus, just off of Hwy 2 by the Reptile Museum. Not very likely looking, but definitely intriguing.

As we were looking over the very short and to-the-point menu, the person in the order window explained that they didn’t have any heat to their second bus, which normally served as their dining area. She offered to bring our order out to us in our warm car, which was nice. We ended up with two sandwiches,¬†one brisket and one pork, plus a side of beans and a side of coleslaw. I’m sure hunger had something to do with this, but the sandwiches were some of the best I’ve had – squishy, tender, smoky and nicely sauced, without being so gooey we had to be hosed down afterwards. The coleslaw was crisp, but not strongly flavored – I might have liked a sharper dressing. The beans were flavorful and tender – they sat in a cup of meaty broth instead of having barbecue sauce dumped over them.

We inhaled everything in very short order and went happily on our way. We’ll certainly be stopping by here again.