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Restaurants & Bars 4

Valley of the Moon Taco Trucks (Boyes Hot Springs)

Melanie Wong | Oct 6, 200206:09 PM

The wine harvest is in full swing now and the taco trucks in Sonoma County are busy night and day feeding migrant workers. Recently I found another taco truck on Highway 12 in the Valley of the Moon (Sonoma Valley appellation) and have an update on the one close by.

TACOS Y MARISCOS EL MILAGRO (address painted on side of the truck was on Grand Ave. in Novato) is actually not a truck but a trailer. And a rather fancy one at that, with a big picture window along one side that shows off the three cooks from waist up and their kitchen ballet. What attracted me was the sight of the full-size spit-roasted pork stacked up for al pastor with a whole pineapple on top. Even more flamboyant was the jefe al pastor clad in chef’s whites sharpening his carver with a steel with great flair and then slicing the browned edges off the al pastor cone. Also, they were making carne asada to order on the flat top, whereas many other trucks cook them at the central kitchen and then reheat, but I didn’t try it. An al pastor taco was $1, and I asked for a bit of the piña on it. The meat had nicely charred, crisp edges and was lean, but surprisingly bland. Didn’t see any mariscos.

Ah, well, gotta give these folks extra points for showmanship. The trailer is parked in the lot directly across the highway from the Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. [I couldn’t help but wonder if any chowhounds disguised in terry cloth robes as well-heeled guests of the Inn wander across the road for tacos, but didn’t see any. (g)] Few lights at night, no seating, and no menu posted.

ANTOJITOS TAVO had a big banner proclaiming $1 tacos, pupusas, gorditas, tostadas de ceviche, sopes, and huaraches. With the competition from Milagro a block away, prices have come down and variety has increased. One time I ordered a pupusa revuelta ($2.50) and a gordita de pollo ($2.50) for a side by side comparison of Salvadoran and Mexican-style stuffed corn cakes. The gordita won this match handily and may be the best thing I’ve had from this truck. I can’t say enough about the succulent and toothsome grilled chicken in this, which is a big part of what made the gordita extra good. The gordita was made to order, not reheated, with crisp edges and a creamy center, garnished with shredded lettuce, onions, cilantro, crema, and queso fresco, plus tomatillo salsa. The pupusa was disappointing, too soft, and neither chewy nor creamy, but coming apart with an underseasoned filling of cheese, pork bits and beans. Rather than a curtido-type marinated slaw, a few shreds of plain cabbage were strewn over top, then doused with too much spicy red salsa. The masas were similar in taste (a bit lighter for the pupusa), and clearly better suited to the gordita-style.

A handwritten sign on the truck itself offered enchiladas, tostadas de cueritos (you can see the giant jar of pickled pork skin in the window), sopes, pambazos, and champurrado, in addition to the regular menu of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, tortas, and hamburgers. Last Friday was too warm an Indian summer night to think about champurrado, but I did spring for a pambazo ($4). Chorizo and papas were already sold out, but the order-taker recommended “steak” for a filling. If she hadn’t identified it, I would have had a hard time figuring out that it was beef even. The meaty filling reminded me of sloppy joe mix with a tomatoey, lightly spicy sauce with bits of chopped and ground meat and onions stewed together. The oval and not round bun was fresh, not stale, and was soaked through and disintegrating in the second half. Garnished with shredded lettuce, onion, too much crema, and a few cubes of queso fresco, this was a very plain version compared to Delicias Elenitas. Some pico de gallo from the salsa bar was a worthwhile flavor addition. Not an 8-napkin event here, I did go through five by the time I was done.


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