A few months ago, I spent a week in Mexico, and I thought I might never come back. It was mostly because of the tacos … but then again, it’s always the tacos. They just reel me in and make me see life anew through rose-colored glasses. To be specific, it was Tulum’s al pastor tacos that stole my heart. The pork roasting vertically on a shawarma-style spit with a fresh pineapple slice speared onto the top, dripping its juice over the perfectly caramelized exterior, was everything. After you’d order, they’d shave off some meat and slap it unceremoniously onto a freshly made tortilla. It was kinda the best thing ever, and did I mention this taco cost just 50 cents? Yeah, I had a hard time making that flight home. The taco cart was calling.
I also found a second love down there, and while I can’t say it beats out tacos for my affection, it did come in a very close second. A bustling open-aired restaurant down the street from my Airbnb was serving up tortas, sandwiches that were so crave-worthy that I almost cried when I found out the restaurant closed at 3 p.m. (no late night tortas? Life is so cruel). Soft telera bread split in half and stuffed with savory meat, grilled onions, and some kind of awesome sauce … that sounds okay, but then they threw the whole sandwich straight on the greasy porky griddle and gave it a quick toast, transforming the soft bread into a crispy-on-the-outside, squishy-on-the-inside experience. It’s like a panini that doesn’t make you hate everything by tearing up the inside of your mouth every time you take a bite.
So, imagine my delight when I found out the new food truck at 11th Street Station had (drum roll) tortas on the menu! Not only do they have them, but you get to choose between carne asada and (roll it again) al pastor. Seriously, I think the new owners of this cart have been reading my diary, because it’s simply too much of a coincidence.
How did their torta stand up to my Mexico experience? It brought me right back to the beach, delivering a straight fire, phe-frickin-nomenal flavor with every bite. Savory beans were slathered onto one side of the griddled bread while thick slices of queso fresco tiled the other. Inside there were layers of creamy avocado, savory meat, and pickled jalapeños that were so tasty, I can’t even talk about it. I’m not sure how they managed to remove the spice and showcase the fruity side of these peppers, but I’d like to buy a jar, please. Served up with a side of salsa and a tasty salad featuring marinated tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes, it was super filling and full-flavored. It’s definitely a sando I’ll go back for again and again.
They also have burritos on the menu, which I 100 percent had to try because I’m a fat kid who loves eating all the things. The tasty tortilla was shoved full of thinly sliced carne asada steak (or, al pastor, if you prefer), soft beans, tangy sour cream, plenty of guacamole, and fresh pico de gallo. It was well rolled and pressed flat, so you didn’t risk spilling out the contents with every bite. Most importantly, everything inside was well-mixed. It’s a silly pet peeve, but I seriously appreciate it when your burrito builder takes the time to squish the contents together before rolling it up. There’s nothing worse than getting all the sour cream in the left bite and nothing but meat with the right bite. Come on, people, mix it up!
You can also get tacos for $2.50 each. They’re small – what I’d like to call a three-bite taco – but they’re filled with meat. Order one on the side of your burrito, or order a trio for a filling meal. Of course, I chose the al pastor, which was an ideal level of mild-to-medium spice. The chopped pineapples on top really tie the taco together, adding a cooling, tropical element that also injects the perfect amount of juiciness to the taco. Add in crunchy onions and herbaceous cilantro and you have a winner.
By that point, I was too full to try the nachos and quesadillas, and I haven’t made it back in time to hit them up for breakfast. But a crispy breakfast tostada or a bacon and egg taco sounds right up my alley. Then there’s something called the breakfast nachos…I mean, any excuse to eat nachos for breakfast is absolutely a good one.
I’m pretty stoked that they’re open from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm so I can get my fill of tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Adding Mexican food to the mix is an excellent complement to the other carts at 11th Street: Indonesian Chinese fusion, wood-fired pizza, sushi and poke bowls, and gourmet sliders. There’s literally something for everyone, no matter what you’re in the mood for. Now I just have to wake myself early enough to make it there before 11:30 am to try out the breakfast goods!