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Restaurants & Bars

Salinas Chowdown Report: Venimos, Vimos, Comimos Tacos

Melanie Wong | Jun 10, 200710:09 AM     35

We came. We saw. We ate tacos.

Yesterday 11 chowhounds (and one feisty Chihuahua) hit the streets of east Salinas in search of good chow. Taco aficionados rallied in my hometown to test my premise that our street vendors can throw down and beat the best of San Francisco, Oakland, Napa Valley, and Sonoma County, the other communities famous for food destination-worthy taco trucks. We hit ten street vendors in six hours, including a break in the middle for some independent exploration. A highly ambitious itinerary for a delegation of this size, yet the chowhounds were up to the challenge.

The vendors included my favorites and also the ones that seem to be the most popular. In some cases, my prior experience might have been limited to a single taco or none at all (e.g., La Paloma) and putting them on the tour was the chance to sample and critique more widely.

1:00pm Mister Taco truck, Sun Street at East Market Street

1:45pm El Grullense truck, Kern Street at East Market Street
El Compita truck, Kern Street at East Alisal Street

2:30pm Tacos La Paloma truck, 352 Griffin Street

3:00pm Mariscos Las Glorias truck, Bridge Street at E. Rossi St.
Mariscos El Kora truck. Menke Street at Bridge St.

3:45pm Treasure hunt in the Alisal district

5:30pm Julio Valdez cart, East Market Street at Ivy Street

6:30pm El Kiosko #2 truck, 8 Williams Road at East Alisal Street
Tacos Colima #1 truck, 201 Williams Road at East Market Street

7:00pm Tacos Acámbaro wagon, 330 Griffin Street

Split into four teams (Guajillo, Pasilla, Arbol, and Chiltepin), the ‘hounds were also turned loose in the Alisal district for some ad lib chowhounding beyond our set itinerary. Their mission was to get a feel for the food terrain, both on the street or brick and mortar, and scavenge for other chow treasure in virgin territory.

My own team, Chiltepin, chowed through a wide-ranging tasting menu:

Al pastor quesadilla de maiz, tripas taco, carnitas taco, cabeza taco, and carne azada taco from Mr. Taco
Tres leches cake from Panaderia Guadalajara (E. Market)
Carnitas taco and buche taco from El Grullense
Campechana al estilo Sinaloa from El Compita
Sesos taco and carnitas taco from La Paloma
Campechana al estilo Nayarit and ceviche de pescado tostada from El Kora
Campechana al estilo Sinaloa (vuelve a la vida?) from Las Glorias
Squeezed-to-order carrot-orange jugo, palmier, pineapple pastry, and walnut and rompope gelatinas from Panaderia Guadalajara (N. Sanborn)
Tamale de elote (aka uchepo), champurrado, and Mexican hot dog with everything from Julio Valdez
Sope al pastor and carnitas taco from El Kiosko #2
Piña Jarritos from Quality Market
Stewed nopalitos, birria taco, chicharrones en chile taco, and cabeza taco from Tacos Colima #1
Campechana (bistek and tripas) taco and al pastor taco from Tacos Acambaro

At the start, I had put $20 into the collective taco kitty. At day’s end, my lunch and dinner eating cost only $15 and I got change back!

My fellow taco-trekkers, muchísimas gracias for making the journey to Salinas to see and to eat for yourselves. Let’s hear about your favorites, discoveries and opinions of the day!

Photo album -
http://flickr.com/photos/melaniewong/...

Google Map of Salinas Street Food –
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/407568

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