Tamarindo Truck: Maestro de Meats
Tamarindo Truck doesn't need this review. It's already a popular luxe lonchera, finding a loyal following with its twists on Mexican food using organic produce and meats. I've delayed reviewing it because the owners recognized me while I was standing in line shortly upon the truck's opening a couple of years ago, and I didn't want them to treat me differently in any way. Thankfully, I've had people buy me meal after meal to keep tabs on Tamarindo. And I'm happy to finally report on the goods: Mexico City-style quesadillas, spectacular hard-shell potato tacos that take the Lenten standard and brighten them with epazote and quesillo, scintillating ceviche that isn't always available because chef/owner Pedro Resendiz uses responsibly caught fish. And while the lard-free tamales seem like a gimmick, hold judgement until you bite into the fluffy, moist masa—even your abuelita from El Porvenir would approve. There's none of the baroque Chicano creations of Taco Maria here; this is delicious, responsible food like you'd find at home with a bunch of drunk cousins or second-generation Chicanas rooting on El Tri.
True to its name, Tamarindo offers aguas frescas—the namesake is appropriately tart, but I always order the blackberry-lime when it's available. But where Tamarindo towers over the competition is in tackling tortas. As I've previously written in this column and lectured in public, this Mexican sandwich is going to be America's Next Big Mexican Meal, ready to join nachos, Mission burritos and Korean tacos in the pantheon of must-eat Mexican. Tamarindo gets all the essential parts of a torta: that the bolillo must be toasted, must soak up any juice, must not crumble yet be strong enough to contain layer upon layers of ingredients. It gets that veggies are not just an afterthought, but essential to a torta, playing as important a role as cheese and meat. And the meats—from crispy milanesa to succulent brisket marinated in pasilla salsa to slow-roasted pork that plays the line between carnitas and cochinita pibil perfectly to a chorizo-and-cheese combo that's like a queso fundido sandwich, Resendiz and his wife, Sarah (who handles the back end), should open a Mexican barbecue spot as his next project. And you will have one, ¿verdad?
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