…And now for something completely different! Today, Food Truck Times brings you a new segment I like to call (in the meantime, anyway), “Outside LA” – because rumor has it that some things actually exist in the beyond…
Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the 3rd annual Wine Blogger’s Conference, in Walla Walla, Washington. Three glorious days of drinking incredible wine, meeting fabulous people and gorging on sinfully decadent food. And the thing that really grilled my burrito is that all of this rejoicing began with lunch catered by two of the area’s Mexican Taco Trucks – Tacos La Monarca and Los Taquitos. Game on.
The first truck I tried was a festive blue-and-white number, painted with Monarch butterflies (la monarca). They featured a terrific, creative menu including adobada and campechano (beef and pork sausage) tacos, milanesa tortas and something called a pombazo. I made the mistake of asking them to surprise me with their specialty and received a plate of chicken and beef tacos. A little boring, but in their defense – I didn’t tell them I’m a professional…
When my order was ready, I found myself staring into the hot, steamy goodness of a chicken taco, a Walla Walla chicken taco and a Walla Walla beef taco. All of these were good, but not excellent. The chicken taco was standard-issue antojito of the type found at Mexican-American restaurants all across the country: Small chunks of white meat chicken, marinated and cooked in spices, served on a double layer of corn tortilla and topped – street style – with chopped onions and cilantro. I wouldn’t kick it out of bed, but also wasn’t prepared to start a long-term relationship with it, either.
I quickly learned that when one sees the descriptor “Walla Walla” on a menu, it is to be automatically assumed that said item comes smothered in those sugar-sweet onions named after the southeastern region of Washington State from whence they come. Such was the case with the Walla Walla chicken and beef tacos. These were served – like the “regular” chicken taco – on two corn tortillas. Unlike the simpler version, the Walla Walla tacos were topped with slices of cooked Walla Walla onion, melted cheese (Monterey Jack?), and strips of creamy avocado. They were quite good (although I challenge you to name anything that isn’t improved with grilled onions, melted cheese and avocado). All three tacos were instantly elevated by a bath of smooth-hot tomatillo salsa.
Purely in the name of journalism, I sacrificed myself and wandered forth to try another taco truck (for comparison, of course). This time I ordered from the Los Taquitos truck. This time I also asked for their specialty. And this time I again received chicken tacos.
Similar in every way to La Monarca, except better. These tacos were a little less cheesy but a lot more flavorful. The onions were packed with a richness usually seen from slow grilling with animal protein, with sprinklings of extra love. The Los Taquitos tacos were also more greasy, which in the worst of times means stomach ache and wasted calories, but in the best of times means enhanced flavor. Thankfully, as an apropos kickoff to the conference, these tacos were the best of times – like everything else on an extraordinary weekend.