New Orleans weather fluctuations are like mood swings. When she wakes up on the right side of the bed, and you get one of those perfect, non-humid, 70-degree and sunny days, there is no better thing to do than go on an epic outdoor taco truck crawl. Most taco trucks offer some plastic tables and lawn furniture for you to feast upon, but you could grab them all to go and head to the park for a sunny day taco picnic.
Today we will scoot along South Claiborne Avenue from the underbelly of the I-10 overpass to the Jefferson Parish line. There are five taco trucks that regularly perch along this route. Each truck is totally unique in their offerings, their sauces and their surroundings.
Each truck also offers a variety of protein options, from pollo (chicken) and asada (beef), pastor (pork) to choices for the adventurous, like lengua (tongue). For the purposes of consistency, I ordered two al pastor tacos at each stand. I find al pastor to generally have the most flavor bang for your buck, but who am I to tell you what to do with your meat?
Each taco cost a whopping $2 bucks. Drinks range from refreshing Topo Chico sparkling water to nuclear-orange Fanta, or my preference, an ice-cold Mexican coke. Also all $2 bucks.
So roll your windows down, crank Tiene Sabor on WWOZ, and munch down on some tacos in the sunshine before the Mardi Gras madness kicks into high gear.
Note: Locations are approximations; none of these trucks have physical addresses.
Bourbon Kitchen Cruise (located across Earhart Expressway from the Home Depot downtown)
Bourbon Kitchen Cruise must have bought the truck and just never felt compelled to change the decor. Walking up you would think you’d be buying some gumbo or red beans and rice. Instead you get really fresh, really delicious, handmade tortillas that someone is usually kneading right there in the window. This is key to holding the spicy, sweet and fatty al pastor together for the perfect bite. The green sauce at this truck is spicy, floral and somewhat creamy. Here is a tip though. Avoid this truck during the peak hours between 11:30 a.m. and noon, because it is surrounded by workers looking for one of the best tacos (and deals) in town.
Taqueria Sanchez (located steps away from Bourbon Kitchen across Earhart Expressway from the Home Depot downtown)
There is a certain velvety, fatty texture to this al pastor that is insanely satisfying. And note, when the lady handing you your tacos says the “red sauce” is hot, listen up. I shot a good squirt on each of my tacos and post munch-down my mouth was buzzing and alive and sweat was beading up on my brow. I prefer this; I’m the kinda guy that enjoys scorching-hot food, but some may want to go easy on it. Even though these trucks are just steps away from each other, they are miles apart in flavor. That is a great thing for your tastebuds. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite between the two.
Taqueria El Obraje 2 (located at the Valero Gas Station on the corner of MLK Boulevard and Claiborne Avenue)
El Obraje 2 is probably the longest-standing taco truck on Claiborne Avenue. It’s been haunting the corner across from Churches Chicken since the early post-Katrina days, serving up breakfast baleadas and burritos to early-morning workers putting our flood-soaked city back together munching away on tacos on the hoods of their trucks. The al pastor on this truck had a nice char on the edges that lent it a smoky flavor I really liked. The industrially produced tortillas were grilled until properly pliable and chewy. The sauce was nothing to write home about here, but these tacos were STUFFED with meat, onions, and cilantro. All in all, they were probably the most bang for your $2 bucks.
Taqueria Falcon (located at the Delta Fuel Station at 3300 S. Claiborne Avenue)
Taqueria Falcon is a small, white, nondescript trailer with a painting of the Saints mascot man on the back of it. But what this trailer lacks in pizazz it more than makes up for in flavor. While they do not make their own tortillas and their sauce might not blow your face off, the meat here is the absolute best. The tortillas are stacked and stuffed with the most complex and juicy al pastor of the bunch. It is sweet, spicy, fatty, and smoky. I can never just order two here, I always order more to stick in the fridge for later.
Taqueria DF (8808 S. Claiborne Avenue in front of Laundromat Zone, across from the Sewage & Water Board)
Just before you pass the Jefferson Parish Line, across from the embattled Sewage and Water Board, is Taqueria DF. A small cart is anchored between a phone repair shop and a laundromat. But just like the others, don’t discount this cart on appearance. It’s typical to see a line of workers lined up at this cart, and for good reason: The tacos are AMAZING. They make their own tortillas here and they are smoky from the griddle and chewy, holding up perfectly as a vessel to get the seasoned al pastor from the container to your face. These were my favorite, hands down. Perfect little bites of taco heaven. The sauce here was also lovely, creamy and tasting of fresh green chilis.