Magic Taco Bus

We prepared by drinking a Corona (Light) in the afternoon sun of the first truly beautiful Saturday of an otherwise overcast June. That’s all it took for my light-weight buzz to kick in and accompany Nic and I down Rainier Ave to the taco bus.

In flip flops and shorts and craving another cold beer–it feels like Mexico. It sits in an empty parking lot, just past the crumbly 1960’s apartment complex, where the chain link fence that guards broken down cars, ends. Rounded corners of off-white gleam in the orange-gold light, an old bus turned taco truck–it looks like Mexico.

I stare hungrily at the menu. Past the torta and enchiladas, pause for a moment on the cerviche, only to forget it all when I find the taco plate. $1.20 each–I feel like I’m in Mexico.

We climb aboard the bus to order. Twirl lazily on stools wrapped in vinyl. There’s no taco truck “mystery” of ordering through a window and minutes later the “voila!” of being presented with a styrofoam package you hope will taste amazing. Instead, I watch him grill up carnitas and tortillas as my lunch-less stomach rumbles. A man climbs aboard, he’s called ahead. Nic and I look at eachother–next time.

Moments later it’s ready. No questionable styrofoam, just two paper plates wrapped in foil, steaming with something that smells like a little bit of authentic Nayarit goodness…

Bank of America Tacos

The craving for tacos can strike at the strangest times.

Soaking in a hot, steaming bubble bath–after a cold, wet mountain bike ride that ended in me (the heroine) riding gallantly down some stairs to crash on pavement so I could avoid hitting the (insolent) little girl who stood (not very smartly) watching and not moving out of my way–I lazily texted friends and family, I thought of what I should do next today. Mow the lawn? Paint the ceiling? Tacos?

Hmmm! Tacos.

Nic was down for taco truck and I was pleased with myself for having inducted another taster to my taco research.

I ventured back into the unseasonably cold June day and the fine mist that had replaced the rain. This time I’d try the truck parked outside Bank of America, in Columbia City. Almost giddy with myself over this new summer project, I walk confidently up to the counter. An older Hispanic man in a cowboy hat pauses his cascade of fluid Spanish to look at my shiny red ballet flats, designer jeans and (probably) overly-eager face and wave me to the window to order, before continuing his conversation with the voice that hides behind jars of jalepeno and Coca Cola.

I look at him, then scan the colorful “Los Primos” concert flyer behind him, then scan the “nuestros dentista” flyer, and then step back to behold a completely menu-less white taco truck wall. The last place had been decked out in multi-lingual menues and pictures. This was like a taco truck sahara! Spanish floats on the air around me, then, behold: a daily special written in light pencil on a college-ruled slip of notebook paper.

Especial: 3 Tacos, $6

I order two from the smiling woman behind the counter.

“That’s it?” she asks.

“Si, es todo,” tumbles from my mouth with an authentic confidence that delights me.

She smiles, we exchange some pleasantries in Spanish and my eyes plead with her to make this good. I don’t know that I can choke down another cardboard asada dinner.

I sit on the picnic table, slowly dissecting the “dentista” flyer. I pull up my pant leg a bit and carefully re-adhere the big bandaid to my oozing red road-rash. I realize the cowboy has stopped talking as he looks from my purse to my leg, and cracks a small smile that looks like something I decide is “appreciative”. Perhaps he’s enjoying the irony too? I flash back a smile, the best I got. He tips his hat, as he walks off into the mist.

A new man walks to the counter. Without hesistation or a look for a menu, he orders two burritos. I nod my head, this is how they do it.

My order is ready, and I cross my fingers…

You have to start somewhere…

Upon opening the white styrofoam package of goodness, I quickly realized I would be starting close to the bottom. (Or at least, I hoped…)

I’d made my first mistake ordering carne asada combination plate. Lesson number one: stick with tacos.

The meat was about cardboard thickness, color and consistency. There was no rare or even medium-rare tenderness to be savored, as I carefully picked my way through glistening threads (and sometimes clots) of grissle to build a modest taco. After finishing off one taco and a couple spoonfuls of non-descript refried beans and rice, I was done.

For what it was (immediate caloric fulfillment on a cold, rainy night), it was ok. Before writing them off completely, I’m determined to go back and try learning from my mistakes and just sticking to tacos. Simple, good, & crazy delicious tacos.

Taco Truck Tuesday!

Tonight, as I drove home from Bellevue, across an abysmal Lake Washington, cold rain dripped from new spring leaves and collected in muddy puddles. A far cry from the sandy, warm beaches of Mexico. And yet all I could think about were tacos. No time or interest in a big, sit-down restaurant ordeal. I just needed tacos and I needed them now.

I drove to the less than credible intersection of Graham and Rainier, thankful they were still open this late. Ordered the carne asada plate with flour tortillas. An aquamarine blue Taurus rolls up, tinted windows down, P. Diddy’s “Best Friend” blarring while I stumbled my way through a simple Spanish flyer advertising the benefits of pre-school for non-English speaking children. It’s difficult to get through. Mostly because as the linguistic side of my brain translates one line of Spanish, the hip hop side of my brain (we all got it, just admit it) is singing it out with Puff. It goes something like:

“Half day or complete day school”
[Puffy] “You mean everything to me”
“Door to door transportation”
[Puffy] “You’ve been with me from day one”
“Good for children who speak little or no English”
[Puffy] “Even when I thought nobody was there, you were there”
“Must be 4 years of age by August 31st”
[Puffy] “You’re my best friend”
“Smooth transition into Seattle public kindergarten”
[Puffy] “I love you like no other”
“Call to enroll your child now!”
[Puffy grabs the mic and takes over]
“There is no feeling like this in the world”
“If you can relate to what I’m feeling”
“Put your hands in the air for me”
“You’re the love of my life”

Fortunately, before I can raise my hands in the air, my carne asada is ready. I brave the drippy night and head home to enjoy….