Saturday, October 2, 2010

My First Taco Truck

Ruth & Paul invited us out to their 'hood (White Center) tonight for a culinary (and drinking) tour. Ruth is a true adventurer and she & Paul have explored markets and bars, tattoo shops and even an underground gambling ring (an accident) in the area around 16th and Roxbury, just in the short year and half since Ruth bought her home in the area.

The first stop on our culinary tour was an amazing mercado overflowing with a variety of Latin and Asian foodstuffs, from fish I'm used to seeing in aquariums to pinatas. The experience reminded me of a childhood trip to Seattle's International District, where our young suburban minds were blown by the unfamiliar grocery items we encountered at Uwajimaya. The 'Waj has nothing on this little mercado in terms of obscure ingredients.

After oogling surprising seafoods and discounted produce, we grabbed a bite at Taqueria La Fondita #2 - a taco truck in residence at the end of the parking lot, with a covered eating area. Our hosts treated us to a round of carne asada tacos that were definitely tasty, which officially popped my taco truck cherry.

I have some strong opinions about people's strong opinions when it comes to Mexican food in Seattle, and have been turned off by too many people who turn up their noses at so-called 'Family Mexican Restaurants' as being inauthentic, but flock to taco trucks. Perhaps that's kept me from stopping at any of the half-dozen taco trucks I pass in our South Seattle neighborhood - like the one across from the light rail station at Othello, or the one in the parking lot of the Saars Mart on Henderson, or the one at the gas station on Graham.

Although delicious, I wouldn't categorize my taco as head-and-shoulders above the same offering from El Sombrero, nor would I call it more 'authentic' (whatever that's supposed to mean). It was different, and the experience is very different, and I enjoy them both. What may have made this taco experience a little better was that it was shared with me by good friends, which makes almost anything taste great. But I won't be shunning my neighborhood taco trucks any longer, and will try to make an effort to give them a try.

One word of warning, however - be careful with that salted, roasted pepper that garnishes your plate. It doesn't seem that hot at first, until you've convinced everyone at the table to take a bite and the heat is finally catching up with you. Definitely Caliente!

La Fondita #2 on Urbanspoon

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