A hand-painted sign announces to passersby that the taco shack is open Monday through Saturday, 8 am-6 pm. Prices range from a whopping $10 burger to $1 sodas.
It’s a boiling hot Tuesday with a gusty warm breeze, and the horchata ($3) tastes like a milky oasis. After searching in the signature New Mexico sun for over an hour for a different food truck, I feel blessed to be sitting on a plastic orange bench in a little bit of shade, sipping on ice-cold cinnamon milk.
Being from the East Coast, where things are green, humid and provide ample shade, the uncomfortable Santa Fe weather combined with those six years of uselessly learning French leave me with a feeling of total foreignness. Trying to communicate with the motherly chef inside the truck, who speaks only a handful of English words, proves to be humorous—and eventually, fruitful.
“Un momento,” she says finally as she disappears into the shadows of the wood-covered vehicle. Musing over my fateful decision to never learn a word of Spanish, my Texas friend, who is serving as my translator and food-eating partner, watches with me as several cars pull up and place orders.
The operation has a simple charm. Within about seven minutes, we’re handed two generic plates covered in a layer of tin foil and two tacos each. Jarochos Taquería serves four different kinds of tacos: asada, adovada, barbacoa and lengua ($2 apiece). We order one of each.
The tacos are small and come with half a lime, some tomatillo-based salsa verde and a small handful of cabbage topping. The four meat types are surprisingly indistinguishable, but nonetheless tasty. Although not remarkable, the undemanding meal is satisfying. The fried tortillas are fresh, and the salsa, a beautiful light green color, is delicious and just the right kind of mild to complement the meal without overtaking it.
We’re fortunate we didn’t have time to finish our horchatas during the wait—they’re needed to wash down the meat, which is well spiced.
After returning the plates and awaiting the second half of our meal, a tamal de pollo ($4), we sit and watch as yet more patrons come to order takeout. A tamal seems like the perfect second course considering the giant one painted on the front of the truck. With the same presentation as the tacos, it comes wrapped in a banana leaf with a red salsa—which, being hotter than the tomatillo, is a welcome surprise for my spicier-minded eating companion. The dish is substantial, and the chicken inside is sufficiently spicy.
There are plenty of other items to order, all at reasonable prices: a Hawaiian hamburger ($10), empanadas ($3 each), flautas ($1.50 each), a fried plantain platter ($5). If we weren’t so stuffed, we would order more.
All in all, this truck is best for take-out because of the limited seating (one plastic orange table). The food isn’t special or overwhelmingly delicious, but sometimes, especially with the entrées, it is best to stick to the basics. It just so happens that simple eats are exactly what Jarocho Taquería offers. It is a great place if you’re in the mood for a straightforward, home-style meal on the go, and it was a worthwhile stop for my foreign palate to learn more about authentic Mexican food.
At a Glance
Serving: Mexican tacos, Hawaiian burgers and otherworldly plantains
Order-up: Pretty rápido
Best bet: Taco sampler platter will give you enough energy to “make it rain” at Cheeks