Melanie Wong | Jun 9, 200709:36 AM     9

Parked west of the freeway in front of Lamar Brothers (330 Griffin St.), the Tacos Acambaro wagon is the only rig of this kind that I’ve spotted in Salinas. Not self-propelled, I can’t call it a taco truck, but in every other way it’s self-contained.

Image from streetside –

Note the propane tanks that fuel its power plant if the batteries die down. It’s wider than the lunch trucks with more work space inside. The shiny stainless steel interior hoses down easily and the spic and span exhibition kitchen is completely visible through the wide windows.

Image of window-front kitchen –

The owner, F. Hernandez, said he’s had this business for two years and that his was the last permit to be issued before the earlier moratorium. When I asked him if he’d had another vending vehicle before, he said, “No, only this one. I just love tacos.” He invited me inside to take a look explaining that complying with the health regs is no problem. One concern raised by the county’s Environmental Health regarding catering trucks is the supply and temperature of hot water and waste water disposal. This wagon is equipped like an RV with an on-demand water heater and collection tanks. Sr. Hernandez turned on the hot water tap for me to demonstrate. I wish I had that kind of water pressure and instant heat at home! He uses Sal-Mex as his commissary.

Image of interior –

Acambaro has one employee who takes orders, cooks, and cleans-up. When I mentioned that I was disappointed to see the empty spit for roasting the al pastor, Sr. Hernandez explained that Acambaro-style doesn’t use a spit and has less sweet seasoning. In his tradition the meat is seasoned more lightly then grilled to show more of the pork flavor. He add emphatically that tacos should NEVER have shredded lettuce on them.

Image of cooking on the grill –

He said that in Acambaro in Guanajuato, pork reigns, but here he also has beef on the menu too. While he has considered adding tortas and burritos, for now, he wants to perfect the tacos and remain a specialist. He recommended the campechana, a Mexicali combination of beef steak and tripas.

Image of menu –

My first time here, a customer recommended the al pastor. His friend said he liked the steak prepared carne asada style. They said these were the best tacos around --- they drive over every week from Monterey to eat here.

I ordered an al pastor taco, $1.25, which was garnished with freshly chopped white onion and cilantro. The sweet braised onions on the side were a nice compliment. Also, the more refined and floral Key limes are offered here. The meat was a bit dry, but I liked the restraint and more nuanced seasoning blend. I tried the avocado sauce and the salsa verde of the four offered in squeeze bottles and thought they were both very good.

Image of taco al pastor –

Last night I returned with my brother, who ordered tripas, cabeza, and lengua. Cut in a small dice, the lengua was too firm for us. Rich and somewhat fatty, the cabeza was my favorite. William thought the tripas was noteworthy here, tender and crisp on the outside. He picked that as his favorite here, but he polished off that one while I was taking the photo and I didn’t get a chance to taste it.

Image of trio of tacos –

Sr. Hernandez had some choice words about the specific restaurants pushing the changes in the street vendor ordinance. He shared the news with me that the vendors have recently retained counsel to negotiate with the city on their behalf. According to him, the current proposal is to allow a transitional period before permits are revoked of four years instead of the current three-year cut-off.

Tacos Acámbaro
Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday: Noon to 9pm
Friday and Saturday: 2pm to 11pm

Google Map of Salinas Street Food,

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