It doesn’t have a name, or even a foundation, but the truck labeled “MEXICAN FOOD El” in the Chevron parking lot on SR 410 serves Mexican meals with all of the fixings.
Whether it is noon, mid-afternoon or late evening, there is always a jam of cars parked around the mobile restaurant across from . I chose to join the queue one Friday afternoon, to discover what all of the hubbub is about.
First off, I was astounded to see a full menu with color pictures posted on the side of the truck. To be honest, I had expected a short list with few options for tacos, burritos and tamales wrapped in foil like gas station hotdogs.
Instead, the choices were plentiful and the prices a little bit higher than expected. The cheapest menu item is tamales at $2 each; the most expensive are Taquitos Rancheros, Tacos al carbon, Carnitas, Carne Asada, Steak Ranchero, Pollo Asado, Chicken Fajita and Camarones el Rancho at $7.99 each.
After debating for a few minutes, my friend and I approached the window. She ordered tortas, a Mexican-style sandwich, for $4.50. I ordered the taco plate for $4.99. The woman in the window asked us if we wanted our order to go, to which we answered yes. However, if we hadn’t been in a rush, we may have eaten at the picnic table set up beneath a sturdy canopy beside the truck.
After about 10 minutes or so, the waitress leaned out of the window and handed us a brown paper bag and a white clamshell to-go box with a smile (something I appreciate).
The tortas looked hearty, with thick white bread and slices of beef. The taco plate came with the requisite orange-tinged Spanish rice, gooey refried beans with a dollop of sour cream, chili peppers and a lime to squeeze over everything. Both meals came with green and red salsa.
Although small, the two tacos were exactly right. Each one had a double shell of corn tortillas, filled with lettuce, onions, bell peppers and diced grilled chicken. Everything was the perfect amount of spicy.
If I hadn’t patronized Portland’s food carts in the past, I would not believe that this meal had been made in the back of a large van. Amazing and flavorful things can come out of a truck.