Since starting this column a few months ago I’ve had several people ask me what makes a food truck “great.” It’s such a big-picture question that it usually sends me on a five-minute rant about the different flavors of Mexico, my gripes and compliments of fusion dishes and the crunch — or lack thereof — of fresh veggies. Truth is, “great” is such a diluted word, people use it so willy-nilly that it’s lost its impact. And in the case of food writing, “great” is extremely subjective, as everyone has a mostly distinct pallet.
That’s my longwinded way of saying, that amorphous question has many answers—all dependent on the type of food, style and feel of the truck in question. I do, however, have a checklist that I keep in the back of my head whenever I’m tasting food from a new Mexican food truck. What type of salsas do they have? Are their veggies freshly cut? How long is the wait? Lowest prices? And, most importantly, how are the tacos?
Paloma Mexican Food, called El Chapulin by its loyal patrons, is a new-ish taco truck that sets up in the empty lot next to Lulu’s Fiesta Liquor & Deli, where Freedom Boulevard and Lincoln Street meet. It offers all the usual selections (tacos, burritos, etc.) and it hits nearly every item on my checklist. The salsas are the right consistency, the veggies are crisp and flavorful, the wait is nonexistent, the prices are a steal and the tacos — oh boy — are solid.
An order of three tacos and a bottled Coke cost all of $8, a practically unbeatable deal. I went with three kinds of tacos: asada, pastor and campechano. The asada and campechano were cooked to the happy spot where crispy meets soft, reminding me why tacos are so universally loved. The pastor, however, is what will bring me back. It’s so easy to find a pastor taco that is a thin greasy mess that misses the special mix of flavors between the hot, savory pork and the cool, sweet pineapple. You won’t find that problem here. The pineapple is cut correctly, and it doesn’t touch the meat during the cooking process — a mistake that some trucks make, causing the thick, juicy fruit to wilt and lose its consistency.
This truck is just down the street from two other trucks — Tacos Los Jacona and Tacos La Chilanguita-Estilo D.F. — yet there is still a good amount of folks walking up to the counter around 8 p.m. on a Wednesday. Most seemed like returning customers that have found their go-to truck. I hope that base stays strong, and that others give these guys a chance. I know I’ll be back.
Location: 1102 Freedom Blvd.
Hours: 1 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday-Sunday
Editor’s note: Food Truck Tours is a recurring column from Managing Editor Tony Nunez. Have food truck recommendations? Send them his way at [email protected]