Here’s a deal The Dollar-Wise Gourmet can’t refuse: tacos from a truck for a buck (or thereabouts). We’re in. But no two tacos are created equal, as this tour of local taco trucks reveals.
El Tigre del Taco
410 El Camino Ave., Sacramento (Thrift Town parking lot)
My personal favorite, partly because they asked, “Everything?” when I placed my order, giving me a chance to tweak my toppings. (This courtesy didn’t happen at any of the other stops.) Tacos here are served open-face on double-stacked, warm corn tortillas—a model that was repeated, as it turned out, at every truck I visited—and everything is super-fresh, from the cilantro sprinkled on top to the garnishes (sliced radishes and a wedge of lime). Extra points for the grilled onions and incredibly tender, moist chunks of chicken. But beware: The red sauce is muy caliente.
La Mex Taqueria
2650 Northgate Blvd., Sacramento
Two things separate this truck from the rest: a salsa bar and unusually friendly service. Tacos are topped with chopped raw onion and cilantro but no sauce. For that, there’s the salsa bar, with two red sauces (one mild, one hot) and a lively, garlicky green; there also are limes and pickled jalapeño peppers. But what about the meat? Mixed reviews: The chicken, chopped into small bits, was decent enough, but the pork was dry.
Tacos Los Tres Hermanos
El Camino Avenue and Connie Drive, Sacramento
Sweet red bell pepper was the secret ingredient that made The Boyfriend fall in love with the chicken tacos here. (It also didn’t hurt that the meat was so tender.) In terms of preparation, these tacos are as simple as they get—just meat and red sauce, period. Grilled onions and a jalapeño pepper come on the side. Insider tip: A Latino friend recommends the tortas here—a reminder that there’s more to these trucks than just tacos; burritos, quesadillas and tostadas also are standard fare.
4225 W. Capitol Ave., West Sacramento (B&B Tire parking lot)
These were the heftiest tacos, piled high with meat and topped with cilantro, raw onion and sauce. We were surprised that the carne asada (steak) and carnitas tacos were swathed in red while the shredded chicken wore green, but whatever. The chicken was definitely the winner, as the steak was on the grisly side and the carnitas, bland and dry. Pickled carrots were the surprise garnish, served alongside radishes, limes and a great big scary jalapeño.