DINING OUT DONE DIFFERENTLY
Food trucks are enjoying a surge of popularity in big cities, with food truck events that draw thousands of people and world-class chefs getting fancy with gourmet offerings. You’ll see trucks that serve a downtown office building at lunch and then that same truck serving bar patrons at night.
The food truck style in Taos is a bit different, but this town isn’t the kind to follow trends anyway. What you find here tends to be more traditional, with families passing down recipes. There’s also a Do-It-Yourself aesthetic that provides a way for an up-and-coming business to test the waters.
Trucks here tend to also be more stationary, holding down permanent locations. You won’t find them zipping around town — what you’ll find instead are mini restaurants in sheds or in carts on wheels. The only difference is that you order at a counter (no wait staff) and you eat outside (or take it to go). Frequently these outdoor seating areas will have a charming atmosphere, with fencing, picnic tables and shady umbrellas.
The key to eating good food when traveling is to eat where the locals eat. And a lot of locals in the Taos area eat at food trucks. You’ll find Taoseños grabbing a breakfast burrito at one end of town and a Frito pie for lunch at the other. One of the appeals is that the price is right — low overhead means you can pay a little less for good portions.
Want to get an idea of how popular a particular truck can be? Then ask nearly anyone who’s lived here longer than 10 years about the Burrito Wagon and they are likely to reply in a wistful tone about how much they loved the #7 or maybe the #3, whatever happened to be their favorite. The Burrito Wagon may be gone now, but other favorite trucks have gone on to become popular stand-alone restaurants — Mante’s Chow Cart, El Gamal and Leonel’s all started as humble food trucks.
The majority of the food trucks in Taos feature Northern New Mexico cooking. Yes, there is a difference between Mexican and New Mexican food, with the main distinction being the use of the ever-revered chile pepper and cheese, on everything. Definitely try our local vittles, but don’t limit your choices to just New Mexican, as there are other enticing flavors to be had. As with the brick and mortar establishments in town, it’s hard to make a bad choice, so be adventurous.
TIPS AS YOU EXPLORE WHAT OUR FOOD STANDS HAVE TO OFFER:
Not all of them offer credit card services, so bring cash and make it a breakfast or lunch stop, since most of them close in the evening.
TAQUERIA EL TORITO
Suggestion: the mouthwatering carnitas torta
Valerio Plaza, 1800 block of Paseo Sur, east side of road
TAOS CHICHARRON BURRITO
Specialty: chicharron burrito, what else?
1300 block of Paseo Sur, west side of road
MARY JANE’S HOME COOKING
Bragging rights: Best of Taos winner, 9 years running
600 block of Paseo Sur, west side of road
Tradition: this family has been feeding Taos for generations
Super Save parking lot, 500 block of Paseo, east side of road
A LA CART
World Street Food
Unique: a variety of flavors from around the world
600 block of Paseo Norte, north side of the road
Mexican & American
Surprising: the humble exterior belies terrific cooking
1200 block of Paseo Norte, in El Prado
TAOS PLAZA – AREA FOOD STANDS:
Fresh juice blends
John Dunn House Shops
HOT DOG LADY
Taos Plaza or John Dunn House shops
By Mel A. James