Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Taco Stand

In my Mom's town, there's an historic downtown, with carefully restored homes, and a lovingly preserved historic town square with antique stores, art galleries, and city offices occupying nineteenth-century structures. Outside of this, there seem to be two distinct areas. North of downtown is a state college campus, and affluent residential neighborhoods. South of downtown is where folks who are not quite so affluent live - and where the Latino restaurants, taco stands, groceries, travel agencies, and party barns are located.

I was hankering for some tacos, so I drove down North Street until it turned into South Street.

I stopped at a place that looked like an old gas station. There was an awning where pumps used to be. Today, there was a display of autumn mums where the cars would have parked in the old days.

There was a carniceria - butcher shop - and back in the corner of the property, a little taco stand, advertising as a 24 hour joint.

I went up to the window. The sign offered "tortillas hecho a mano" - handmade tortillas. Inside was a slim and stoic woman proprietor, quitely presiding over the kitchen. The radio played soul music - a cut of "I Can't Stop Loving You" by an R & B artist I didn't know. I ordered two tacos - one carnitas taco and one chorizo taco. I also ordered an agua fresca de jamaica - made from steeped hibiscus flowers.

There were wrought iron tables and chairs arranged on a covered wooden deck, and more tables arranged in a nice garden beyond the deck. Strings of chili-pepper-shaped party lights were festooned among the beams and pillars of the deck structure. I sat and sipped my tart-sweet agua fresca, watching the other customers and just getting into the vibe of the place. A group of working guys ate their lunch at one table, and a young couple at another. A marmalade-colored kitten stalked the floorboards of the deck, mewing plaintively at the diners, begging for scraps.

The proprietor called me back to the window for my tacos, asking if I wanted pico de gallo with them. The tacos were a little different than the California tacos I am used to - they had the classic American grated orange cheese that is more typical of Texas than of California.

My tacos ended up being mixed carnitas and chorizo, instead of one of each. I wondered if I could have ordered with more clarity. On the other hand - I can't deny that my tacos were, well, really GOOD.

As I ate, the workers left their table, leaving their plastic baskets and greasy papers behind. I watched the kitten investigate, and then, emboldened, go for the leftovers.

I can't blame her, can you? It was a good place for anyone to stop and have a nice lunch.


Gabriela said...


Every time I visit you had something very interesting to eat! LOL
I love tacos de chorizo, mmmm!!!
They are delicious, here in Toronto, my favorite place to eat them is at a Salvadorian restaurant.
This kitten was very smart, it's better eat them when they are warm!

~ Gabriela ~

Liz Harrell said...

If I lived there, I'd eat at that place everyday for lunch.

I dont blame the cat at all. :)

Jason, as himself said...

I LOVE this kind of Mexican food..the stands and the holes in the wall...mmmmm.

JCK said...

This place really sounds good and I love that top picture.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glennis, I am so glad I found you again. I need to put your blog on my list of faves. I was visiting Beverly and I see she tagged you. I love your description of your town and the great place to buy some tacos etc. Our town is small but we do have three Mexican restaurants and a Taco Bell. We enjoy Mexican food too. Thanks for your e-mail (erased).
I am very lax at checking my e-mail. sigh.

Have a great day...Jeanne

Anonymous said...

I would say you had yourself a lunch adventure. We have similar places around here, and the food is always good.

I have a tag for you on my post today - if you would like to play.