We're still enamored with food trucks, even if most of the Santa Fe versions tend to find a location that works and stay there like a brick and mortar might. Still, you'll find local heavy-hitters moving around special events across town all the same. There's just something about the urgency of quick food done well in a small space, there's something about the spirit of folks who dedicate themselves so tirelessly to the truck. Santa Fe is no stranger to numerous mobile (or immobile, whatever) restaurants, but this year we wanted to highlight a few surprises among the better-known options in town. Excelsior!
A cruise down Airport Road yields numerous food truck options, and many of them serve up Mexican and Central American food with flair. Take Taqueria Argelia, a small but powerful trailer across from O'Reilly Auto Parts with a menu featuring just about anything for anyone. A huge assortment of tortas from el pastor, carnitas, chicken, ham and more run a mere $8.50, while massive $8 burritos have similar items served with rice, beans and your choice of sauce (we like pico de gallo). Find gigantic platters as well ($12), plus tacos (four for $9), the quesadilla gringa (it's a simple one, white folks; $9), hamburgers ($8.50) and even a shrimp cocktail ($9-$13). Score.
4720 Airport Road, 204-5211
According to the very nice guys we met in this food truck's picnic table area, La Hacienda is tops. One of 'em even said he and his wife eat there several times a week. From the large scale "Burger" sign on the side to the shady dining area out front, this one's a no-brainer. We found everything from pollo asado ($23 for the whole dang chicken) and hot dogs served with queso and jalapeños ($7) to a handful of tortas ($9), tacos ($10) and hamburgers ($8). We're particularly intrigued by the machitos ($11) served in the Juarez style, which might just be reproductive organs, but you can call it beef—a true Mexican delicacy we've never seen on another menu in town … yet. Wrap it up with flan or rice pudding ($2.50) and thank those dudes if you see them.
Corner of Airport and Zepol Roads, 577-8068
El Queretano certainly has one of the smaller menus on the list, but we look at it like they have focus. A bevy of the usual suspects include carne asada, al pastor, tripa, carnitas or chicken tacos (four for $8), and the burritos served with refried beans—a weirdly rare thing to find in Santa Fe restaurants—come any way you like them, with whatever meat is on hand ($8). Ditto for the quesadilla, which can come with meat or without, and the torta cubana ($10), which had a few heads nearby salivating. Did we mention it's adorable? It really is, from the small one-table dining area beneath a cobbled-together shade structure to the three stool bar attached to the trailer itself. We'll be back, no question.
4430 Airport Road, 501-5797
Tacqueria Gracias Madre
This one deserves a spot on any food truck fanatic's list, and is friendly to the gluten-free and vegetarians alike. On the day we visited the small truck in the Meow Wolf parking lot, things hadn't quite popped off yet, and a mere few minute wait yielded delectable barbacoa tacos (four for $10) and an absolutely bonkers order of X-mas chile cheese fries with calabacitas in place of meat ($9), though all the usual meat suspects are there for the choosing. Gracias Madre even accepts debit and credit cards, something not all food trucks can handle, and the service came with a smile and friendliness we really enjoyed. Elsewhere on the menu, items like burritos ($7) and a green chile cheeseburger with coleslaw or fries ($9) soothe eaters who want what they know, and the veggies among you will be glad to know there are calabacitas and avocado tacos (three for $9).
1352 Rufina Circle (in the Meow Wolf parking lot), 795-6397
If you're looking for the punctuation mark to your grand food truck escapade—or if you just want a little treat because you work hard, dammit—look no further than Xzavian Cookbey's Freezie Fresh, a monument to Thai rolled ice cream. Basically, Cookbey takes vanilla custard plus whatever flavors you'd like, and there are many, and then he prepares it all on an ice-cold pan, or what he refers to as the "anti-griddle." Everything blends in moments and the new concoction, now completely flat, is rolled up into satisfying, well, rolls, and placed in a cup. Take that, scoop and cone of yesteryear! So long, non-flat ice cream! You'll find Freezie Fresh at Meow Wolf quite often, but elsewhere, too. Cookbey also tells SFR he ramps down slightly in the winter, so depending on when you're reading this, you should get while the getting's good.
1352 Rufina Circle (in the Meow Wolf parking lot), freeziefresh.com
We have to give it up to Israel Francisco Haros Lopez for this one. The local artist and founder of the Alas de Agua Collective turned us on to La Loncherita Salvadoreña last year, and it fast became one of our favorites. Why, you ask? Simple—pupusas. The Central American dish is kind of like an extra thick corn tortilla in flavor, though its masa structure is puffier and more substantial with the glorious added option of cramming it with delicious filling. Salvadoreña has the choice to try either corn or rice flour masa, and at $2.50 apiece, they are a steal. Go simple standby with the bean and cheese version, get yourself a pupusa with chicharron (we know more than a few folks who'll be thrilled to hear about that) or try the calabacitas version for that squashy goodness. At last count, 10 were available, but who even knows what the future holds?
1741 Llano St., 316-2228
Master Food Truck
All hail the mini food truck park at Paseo de Peralta and Old Santa Fe Trail—host to a gathering of new and familiar trucks that's practically perfect for people who live or work downtown and want to get out of waiting in long lunchtime lines. Master Food Truck is one such eatery, and its lineup of burgers, tortas, gorditas and sopas (all $9.50) pretty much nails it. Add in a special breakfast that comes in either burrito or sandwich form, and you may have just found a quick to-go option for those mornings you're running late but your stomach gets to rumbling. Also find other specials in the bright red truck that might actually not even be a truck …
502 Old Santa Fe Trail, 522-9472
Opa, ya buncha nerds—Greek food is here in food truck form, and you should all be psyched. Meet It's Greek to Me!, a mouth-watering bastion of gyros ($11), keftedes, or Greek style meatballs ($11) and souvlaki ($11). Even better? All the dishes come with a Greek salad and fried potatoes. It's Greek to Me! has a pretty decent dessert menu as well, from homemade scones ($3) and rugelach ($2) and a Greek/Americano coffee which, we'll be honest, we aren't quite sure what it is, but we're excited to find out. You'll find this bad boy in the same Old Santa Fe Trail food truck court we we were just talking about.
502 Old Santa Fe Trail, 699-5651
Just up the street on Old Santa Fe Trail, you'll often spot Santa Fe BBQ, a shrine to all things BBQ and the sort of thing that almost (and we mean almost) gives Texas or Kansas City a run for their money. Run by a fellow who goes by Steve "The Meat Man" Schmidt, Santa Fe BBQ is a no-fuss affair, with racks and half racks of beef and baby back pork ribs ($9-$24), sandwiches to make your head spin in pork ($9), brisket ($10) and—gasp!—pork and beef sausage ($7) varieties. Find gargantuan turkey legs ($10) and good old-fashioned corn on the cob with butter ($3), too. Just make sure you save room to try a little bit of everything. Or, y'know, go there a lot. Sorry, vegetarians.
600 Old Santa Fe Trail, 573-4816
You'd probably think a wood fire pizza oven couldn't fit into a food truck, and you'd be wrong. DEAD wrong. Meet Bruno's Pizza, one of the most intense but delightful food truck experiences of all time, and one you'll often see at the Santa Fe Brewing Co.'s mothership location on the outskirts of town or its downtown Brake Room. The truck that's operated by siblings Angelo and Angelica Bruno boasts a collection of family recipes from their grandfather as well as his parents—natives of Naples and Tuscany. You know what that means? Bruno's is Italian AF; thinner and a little crispier than you might be used to. Plus, there's the whole adjacent-to-beer thing going for it. You'll also find Bruno's at various events throughout the city, so make sure you pop by the website (brunos.biz) before you go searching.
Various locations, 690-0966