Even when it’s parked among dozens of other mobile vendors at a food truck rodeo, Mr. Puebla Tacos stands out.
Spanning the length of the truck is a striking full-color reproduction of a famous painting depicting the legendary star-crossed lovers Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl against the backdrop of their namesake volcanoes.
To anyone from Puebla, where the the massive volcanoes can be seen from as far away as Mexico City on a clear day, the story is as familiar to natives of that region as that of Romeo and Juliet.
But it’s another, much less obvious detail that might catch a foodie’s eye: the license tag from the State of Puebla on the front of the truck. Could it be, you wonder, that someone has adapted traditional roadside taco truck fare to appeal to the trendy food truck crowd?
Indeed it could. Carlos Pacheco, a native of Puebla who has worked in Raleigh area restaurants for more than 20 years, put Mr. Puebla Tacos on the road last fall, with his wife, Silvia Ramirez, riding shotgun as sous chef.
Pacheco’s experience cooking a variety of cuisines is evident in a menu aimed squarely at the food truck market. In the space of just half a dozen listings, the menu manages to span the spectrum of traditional and modern tastes.
At one end of the spectrum is the best-selling burrito, crammed with your choice of meat and so many other goodies you may find yourself loosening your belt a notch. At the other end, there’s a veggie rice bowl, which serves up a kaleidoscope of black beans, corn, tomatoes, green peppers, shredded cheddar and Oaxaca cheeses, onions and cilantro over Mexican-spiced rice. The bowl comes with your choice of homemade dressing (try the chipotle Ranch).
Also popular, according to manager Jessica Cather (who met Pacheco while the two were working at O’Malley’s Pub), are the quesadilla and loaded nachos. Deservedly so.
But for my money, it’s the tacos that deserve top billing. Served three to an order, they’re available with your choice of meat (chicken, al pastor pork or — my favorite — carne asada) and served in homemade soft corn tortillas. Traditionally topped with chopped onions and cilantro and a garnishing slice of radish, the tacos come with chips and salsa (red or green) on the side.
The salsas are made from scratch, like pretty much everything on the truck (except the churros; skip these, and instead satisfy your sweet tooth with house-baked three-chocolate layer cake if it’s available). If you’re tempted to pour the salsa onto your tacos, do yourself a favor and try a bite just as it’s served first. Maybe add a squeeze from the lime wedge that comes with an order.
Then pat yourself on the back for scoring tacos that rival the ones you’d find on an old school taco truck. And, as you’re enjoying them with a pint of beer at the local brewery where you tracked Mr. Puebla Tacos down on Twitter, remind yourself that you didn’t have to drive around checking out construction sites and out-of-the-way roadside parking lots to find them.
Mr. Puebla Tacos
Prices: tacos 3 for $9, other items $7-10