Recently a reporter asked me why I was so passionate about eating at the catering trucks in Salinas. Besides the pat “faster, better, cheaper” answer, I also explained that the taco truck experience goes beyond the quality of the food to the social interaction with the proprietor. This is personal chef-ing, making it “your way” attention from these roving
kitchens. Usually you’re speaking directly to the individual who makes your food, and if there is a separate order-taker, he/she is usually the owner who will make sure you’re satisfied. As the customer, I can readily express my appreciation to the cook or correct any missteps in a direct feedback loop. And even when I choose to be silent, I am still aware of a pair of eyes watching me from the other side of the window as I tuck into my food.
Perhaps no one exemplifies this more than Mayra’s owner/operator, Digna Hernandez. Since she’s standing inside her truck’s shadow, the photo suffers from poor lighting. But I think it captures her warm spirit. She’s passing me my hot dog with those magical culinary hands.
When she took my hot dog order, she reached out from her truck window to count off on her fingers, “ketchup, mostaza, mayonesa, cebollos, tomates?” I asked for all of them, and then added a drizzle of the self-serve thick avocado-tomatillo salsa of the day from the molcajete and a few pieces of zanahoria en escabeche on the side. Here’s the photo of my bacon-wrapped hot dog with the works.
Image of one fully-dressed dog (half an order) -
Grilled until nicely charred and the bacon crisp, the hot dog was nestled in a toasted, soft bun. Rather ingenious were the small slits cut in each pole of the dog to attach the strip of bacon to keep it in place. Digna’s light hand with dressing the hot dog was very different from the loaded style down the street and I think this one has won me over.
And, I was surprised when she handed me a second foil-wrapped dog to take home. Apparently these are two to an order, such a deal for $3!
Mayra's Catering truck
Corner of Division Ave. & East Market Street, west of Sanborn Road
Hours: 1pm to 9pm (but often gone earlier)
Earlier thread on Mayra’s Catering Truck –